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Several days in Groton/Mystic/New London -

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evilgodmom Mar 16, 2012 02:39 PM

My husband and I are heading to the Groton area to visit our daughter and son in law the first week in April. We're spending a couple of days in NYC ahead of that, so we may have already blown most of our dining budget, but I'm interested to hear if anybody has any "don't miss" spots in this area. Willing to drive a half hour or so in any direction. We love all kinds of food but we will be only packing casual clothes. Also, are there any lobster rolls on the classic split bun left in this world? We went to Maine last summer and we were left wanting.

  1. j
    juicemann2 Mar 17, 2012 09:44 AM

    http://www.paulspastashop.com
    Great fresh pasta small place though

    Also check Lobster shack in Branford Ct. Not sure if open for season yet but you can call
    http://m.facebook.com/pages/Lobster-S...

    Best lobster roll you will find and right off 95 if your driving from NYC

    1 Reply
    1. re: juicemann2
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      evilgodmom Mar 17, 2012 04:09 PM

      Thanks mucho for the tips. The funny thing is that I've actually eaten at Paul's but forgot all about it. We stopped there on our way up the coast to Maine last summer. I thought the pasta itself was good but the sauces were just meh. I ordered a special that had scallops and asparagus in a wine/garlic sauce. The scallops were like eating pencil erasers - way over cooked and the sauce was under seasoned. Hubby had ravioli and he loved his meal. I tasted it and thought the red sauce was fine, but nothing memorable. If I remember correctly the bread was good. It is a fun place though, old school waitress (a touch grouchy but super effective) and the location can't be beat.

      I bookmarked the Lobster Shack and will definitely stop there if they're open. I've never had a hot lobster roll but I'm open to that. I grew up in Massachusetts and the rolls we got on the Cape were the cold variety. Haven't had a really good one since a family reunion there 10 years ago. Can't get anything like it here in Fort Worth. Hope to vanquish this craving, at least temporarily, on this trip.

    2. DonShirer Mar 17, 2012 05:01 PM

      Look into the Sea Horse Tavern in Noank and search this board for Stonington and Mystic. You should find lots of recommendations. My favorites in Stonington are Noah's, the Water Street Cafe and Milagro, but there are several other good ones I can't dredge up the names of at the moment. I think I remember the Seahorse in Groton as being quite popular, but I haven't been there for several years, so you might want to look up other reviews on that one. Kitchen Little in Mystic is famous for its breakfasts (and for being overcrowded!), but go soon. They will be relocating sometime in April.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DonShirer
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        evilgodmom Mar 17, 2012 05:54 PM

        Those look like great options. I checked menus where available and when I saw "Scallops and Duck" at Water Street, that one went to the top of the list. :-)

        1. re: DonShirer
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          Alica Mar 18, 2012 01:31 PM

          From what I heard, The Seahorse is now owned by the people who own Zacks.

        2. CapeCodGuy Mar 18, 2012 01:37 PM

          I'll echo Noah's in Stonington. Excellent fresh preperation.

          I also like Daniel Packer Inn in Mystic. Eat in the basement tavern for half the price of the room upstairs.

          3 Replies
          1. re: CapeCodGuy
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            Alica Mar 19, 2012 01:28 PM

            I agree with both! Especially love the pub at Daniel Packer!

            1. re: Alica
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              chowmensch Mar 19, 2012 01:48 PM

              I also love Noah's. The new Sea Horse in Noank doesn't seem as good to me as the old Sea Horse. Zack's is very aveage and their Sea Horse sister restaurant is not up to the quality of the old Sea Horse imo. For a good lobster roll, I recommend Capt. Scott's Lobster Dock in New London. They do a cold and a hot lobster roll and both are quite good. For Italian, I recommend Tony D's in New London and for an amazing grinder (don't order the large, you won't be able to finish it) you should try Hamilton Market, also in New London. The roast beef is the best we've had anywhere...

              1. re: chowmensch
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                evilgodmom Mar 19, 2012 08:05 PM

                Wow, so many good options! That thing about the large grinder sounds like a challenge. :-) I had already made note of Capt Scott's from my reading so I'm glad to hear a recent report that it's still good.

                Getting excited! You guys are great.

          2. t
            Trnrbrnr Mar 25, 2012 05:19 PM

            Well, you have to eat breakfast - I recommend Kitchen Little in Mystic, right on the water heading into town from 95.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Trnrbrnr
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              rbailin Mar 27, 2012 12:45 PM

              Kitchen Little is being kicked out of their present location by the property owners, effective some time in April 2012 according to their website:

              http://www.kitchenlittle.org/

              If you can help them relocate, they would be most grateful (along with their patrons).

              1. re: rbailin
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                evilgodmom Mar 28, 2012 01:57 PM

                Kitchen Little looks pretty good. It doesn't say when they're moving specifically, just "April" so I don't know if I'll get a chance at it or not. If they're still around, we will try to get there.

            2. e
              evilgodmom Apr 18, 2012 11:32 AM

              Hey hounds, we've been back for a week or so and I wanted to share some feedback on the places we ended up going. Couldn’t make it to every suggested place (I tried but got voted down on a couple of occasions) but thanks again for all the tips. Here they are, in no particular order.

              Captain Scott’s – Very tasty lobster rolls. The rolls could have been a little more buttered/grilled but at last I got my regular old lobster roll on a split bun. My daughter had the clam chowder in a bread bowl which was very tasty, but could have been hotter. We shared an order of clam fritters, which were hot, fresh and fluffy. They are giant, so I’m glad we went for the small order.

              Kitchen Little – Boy is it ever. Little. They did have info posted about their new location where they’re going at the end of April. I hope for their sake it’s a little bigger. Pretty hard to get around in there, but they managed. Hubby and I both had the Portuguese Benedict. He liked it more than I did. The Hollandaise had a grainy texture that didn’t thrill me and I think it had tabasco in it... not a fan. He also got a side of one pancake with cinnamon and sugar. It would have been better if the butter hadn’t been so cold or the pancake had been hotter (it was a chilly day and there was a definite draft in there.) The butter never really did melt to make that awesome cinnamon/sugar slurry you would expect. Our daughter had the corned beef hash and her husband had some sort of scramble with linguica and peppers. He ate it all, so I think that means he approved. He’s a man of few words.

              Sea Horse Tavern, Noank - This wasn’t at the top of my list of places to try, based on feedback here, but I was overruled and we ended up here. I thought it was pretty darned tasty and affordable and service was very good. We started with fried calamari, which was maybe the best I’ve ever had. Super crispy and well-seasoned. Two kinds of dipping sauces. Hubby had the soup of the day, I don’t remember what it was now, but it was obviously homemade and very good. He had crab cakes for his main, which he will always do if they’re on the menu and they were above average for a mid-priced place. I had pasta with calamari. I honestly didn’t expect it to be the same fried calamari we had as an app or I would have ordered something else, but that’s what it was. It was a huge bowl of angel hair, tossed with garlic, pepperoncini, cheese and I don’t know what else. I do know it was SPICY and delicious. Seriously, I’m from Texas and am used to really spicy food and this was not for the weak. However, it was way too much food and by the time I was done eating I still had ¾ of it on my plate and the calamari was starting to get soggy. The “kids” each had salads – a Caesar with tenderloin and a gorgonzola salad with chicken which were both good. Desserts were hit and miss. The bread pudding was dry. The blueberry pie and chocolate cream pie were both delicious.

              Angie’s Pizza, Mystic – This one was one that my husband picked as he had been there before when he visited last winter. He wasn’t wrong. It’s not classic New Haven style pizza, I think it’s more Brooklyn style but whatever, wow it was so good. Hubby and I ordered a large sausage pizza to share and a side of meatballs. We could have done with a small, but that meant leftovers which is fine. Our daughter ordered spaghetti and meatballs and the son in law had a grilled chicken salad or something low carbish. Everyone loved what they had.

              Portuguese Fisherman, New London – Great little breakfast/lunch place. Very, very affordable. Two adorable ladies run the place and they were maybe not the best organized team but they made up for it in spirit. I don’t remember everything that was ordered, eggs, bacon, linguica, corned beef hash, it was all hot, fresh and delicious. I’d recommend this place over Kitchen Little any day. I wanted to come back but we weren’t able to squeeze it in.

              Daniel Packer Inn, Mystic – We were sort of without a solid plan and thought we’d sneak into Bravo Bravo without a reservation but in spite of it being like 5:30 we were told it would be an hour wait, so we moved on. The DPI is just around the corner. The pub had an hour wait and so we asked about sitting upstairs. I wish we hadn’t done that, the pub looked like more fun and offered less fussy food. The highlight was the bread, served with roasted garlic to spread on it. Oh wait, the grilled mussels appetizer was neck and neck with the bread as far as flavor and quality. My entrée was a veal and lobster combo and I’ll be damned if I could taste anything but rosemary. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. The whole thing was swimming in this sauce that was like drinking a bottle of rosemary extract. I thought about sending it back, but I was pretty full already from the bread and chowder (which was kind of gummy but had great flavor.) Son in law had the lamb chops and declared them delicious, I tried my daughter’s duck and it was tough and needed seasoning, hubby had an asparagus and black truffle pizza which looked like a pile of uncooked asparagus to me, but he said it was fine. All in all, it was the most expensive meal of the trip and I don’t know if I would return. I should mention that the service was fantastic though. Our waitress was that perfect balance of professional but fun, not too intrusive but there when you needed her.

              Dog Watch Café, Stonington – This place was a hit. First of all, when walked up, there was a chocolate lab standing about three feet in front of the door, staring at it. We all thought it was a statue, you know, Dog Watch and all that. Too cute. Wish I’d gotten a photo but he moved and I missed the moment. Anyway, we got here pretty early, five-ish and all the seating next to the windows was taken and it was too chilly to sit outside, but we had a pretty good view from our table anyway. What a cute place. We shared some oysters on the half shell and tuna tempura as apps. Both were super fresh and exactly what was promised. Daughter and I had the fish and chips. So hot I had to tear it open and let it sit a while before I could touch it. Really fresh, fried just right, just super. Son in law had the seafood stew and hubby had the lobster salad roll. All delicious. I think we shared a dessert, but I can’t remember what it was.

              Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream – Stepped in here for dessert one night and the line was wrapped around to the side where the cakes and baked goods are. My daughter is a sucker for red velvet cake so she was going to get a slice of that and a small cup of vanilla ice cream to go with it. When we got up to the front of the line and it ordered, they handed her the ice cream then said “We already put away the cake for the day, sorry.” They put it away while we were in line! So she was standing there with a plain cup of vanilla ice cream that she probably wouldn’t have ordered. They didn’t seem to get it – all teenagers behind the counter and they were definitely more interested in going home than making us happy. I had something that was called Turtle something or other. It’s supposed to have ribbons of caramel and cashews in chocolate ice cream. I couldn’t detect caramel at all and there were only a few cashew bits here and there. Good chocolate ice cream though. No memory of what the boys ordered but they seemed to like it.

              Louis Lunch, New Haven – We had to. We stopped there on our way to Groton from NYC. It was late, maybe 45 minutes before they closed, I want to say 3pm? Anyway, still not a seat in the place. We got lucky and found seats not long after we ordered. It was a very good burger, but I would say it’s on par with the burgers I make at home. Except at home I can have some mayo and mustard. If I were nearby I would definitely go again, but I’d sneak in some condiment packets and salt.

              1 Reply
              1. re: evilgodmom
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                evilgodmom Apr 18, 2012 11:52 AM

                Oh, also, Kitchen Little is cash or personal check only. That was almost embarrassing, but we were able to pool enough cash that we didn't have to run to an ATM.

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