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Desperate for suggestions - First wedding anniversary somewhat near Madison, CT.

Hello! I have searched the discussion boards and found only a very few mentions of great places to eat for a romantic meal in my area (Madison, CT). I should clarify that I'm not looking for someplace overly formal or that could be considered stuffy. Formal attire is ok, we just want to be relaxed and have a great meal.

I'd really love to try some place new which is why I've turned to all of you here.
I'm looking for some place somewhat near Madison, CT to go for a great lunch or dinner, with great staff, and great dessert options. We're open to different types of cuisine, but some comfort food is a plus. We want something special but comfortable and delicious.

Please don't hesitate to make any suggestion! It doesn't have to be a "traditional" anniversary experience - just a good one.

Thank you in advance! Our anniversary is in less than two weeks and we have just been unable to think of a great place to try.

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    1. re: brookerme

      Those are great suggestions - thank you! These places have great desserts. To be totally honest, I'm hoping for something even a little less formal, but I will certainly keep these in mind. Thank you!

      1. re: JasmineAndChocolate

        I was just about to suggestion River Tavern and Cafe Routier. I've had great experiences at both, but River Tavern is more environmentally conscious and their chef is doing some pretty cool things with both his cuisine and his sourcing etc.

        Also in Chester is Restaurant L&E, which does very nice French food (I'd say better than Cafe Routier). Also, Chester is a lovely little town, especially for foodies, to walk around in.
        http://www.restaurantfrench75bar.com/

        A great restaurant in Niantic is La Belle Aurore. I had a lovely meal there last summer, very simple clean bright flavors.

    2. Several choices in your area: Le Petit Cafe and Foe in Branford. Quattro in Guilford. Bar Bouchee in Madison.
      Each is different but all serve fine food. Happy anniversary!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: jdgall

        Thanks! Those are also great suggestions. Quattro's is certainly a possibility. I am not familiar with Foe but will look into it.

      2. Is anyone familiar with Penny Lane in Old Saybrook, CT?

        2 Replies
        1. re: JasmineAndChocolate

          Yes, not romantic. It's pub fare. Try Liv's Oyster Bar, same street.

          1. re: kattyeyes

            If you go to Liv's stick to the raw bar, the hot dishes are pretty bland. The food at Penny Lane is GREAT, but yeah it's not romantic.

        2. Another place we are considering: Tisane in Hartford, CT. Let me know if you've been there! Thanks.

          4 Replies
          1. re: JasmineAndChocolate

            Yes, also not romantic, tho' there is a fireplace. It's more of a place to drop in for a drink and a snack, but I know you can eat there, too--and I have, just not recently. I wouldn't drive all the way from Madison to check it out, that's for sure.

            1. re: JasmineAndChocolate

              If you are willing to drive a bit and want romantic, would highly recommend the Bee and Thistle Inn located in Old Lyme. Great food and super cozy atmosphere.

              They even have $$ specials on week nights.

              1. re: jdgall

                I have heard great things about Bee & Thistle!

                1. re: JasmineAndChocolate

                  Def agree on Bee & Thistle, very romantic atmosphere.

            2. Wine Bar at the Gris in Essex? Not overly formal, can certainly be romantic if you'd like it to be! :) Happy anniversary!

              http://www.griswoldinn.com/files/menu...

              1 Reply
              1. re: kattyeyes

                Their cheese plates and desserts sound very good.

              2. Pips at the Copper Beech Inn in Invoryton (Essex) is a wonderful anniversary destination. You could even stay overnight at the Inn after your meal. Agree with Liv's and Cafe Routier and would add Fresh Salt in Old Saybrook (another place where you stay the night after dinner) to the list.

                3 Replies
                1. re: chowmensch

                  I think you know I love Brasserie Pip @ CBI, too--agree wholeheartedy! Folks seem to call it "Pips" for short, so just to clarify for those reading along who may not be familiar. ;)
                  http://copperbeechinn.com/dining_PIP....

                  Love the location of Fresh Salt in OS; haven't gotten there yet.

                  1. re: chowmensch

                    Those look like incredible places to stay. Thank you!

                    1. re: chowmensch

                      I had one of the best meals of my life at Pips!

                    2. JAC, great question! I just posted it in Madison Patch as well. I'll let you know if we get any more great suggestions, or you can check here: http://patch.com/A-pVgp. Happy Anniversary!

                      1 Reply
                      1. Of note: Our anniversary falls on a Sunday this year, so there's also the option of a nice brunch! Let me know if you've had any that stand out.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: JasmineAndChocolate

                          Waters Edge in Westbrook has a very good brunch.

                          1. re: jdgall

                            That's a good idea, I've been looking for an excuse to go there. Thanks!

                          2. It's all the way out in Westport, CT but has anyone been to the Dressing Room? I heard it's very cozy and that they have a nice fireplace for atmosphere.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: JasmineAndChocolate

                              Food is very mediocre in my opinion...I wouldn't make the trip to go there.

                              1. re: JasmineAndChocolate

                                I'm not sure you're aware of this feature, so let me point it out.
                                If you go to the top of this board (upper right/opposite CHOWHOUND in big letters) and input:
                                "dressing room"
                                where the box reads "Subject, Topic or Question"...
                                You'll see some past recommendations for The Dressing Room. :) You can bump one of the existing threads if you have a question beyond what's already been posted. Happy hunting!

                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                  I haven't been to the Dressing Room, but my daughter has. She said it was extremely expensive and just not worth it.

                              2. I second Cafe Routier. Keep in mind, Seasonal menu changes; website may not be current.

                                1. Best restaurant hands down in this area is in Chester, CT - The River Tavern! I little bit of a ride from Madison but definitely worth it! Menu changes nightly but they have some favorites that are always on the menu. Innovative, creative, with great service. Not fancy but you can dress nice. My favorite restaurant. Still think about the Lavender Creme Brulee that I had there 2 years ago.

                                  1. JAC! Did you decide? =)