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NYT piece on CT's Quiet Coast is frustrating.


This irks me. Why? Because it just has the screamingly obvious places. And R.J. Julia's, really?

I would think we could do better. What places along our shoreline would the Chowhounders suggest?

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  1. I grew up in a coastal Connecticut town that did (and does) get overrun with tourists in the summer; so I find this type of article handy for knowing which places to avoid. As for the Chowhound angle - and I may be wrong in thinking about it this way - I often view CH as the place to come to find good/great food that *doesn't* get attention from the larger media outlets.

    1. This board has traditionally been full of recommendations of the right sort — seems the NYT's food writers don't read CH, though. One simple suggestion concerns the roads: she mentions 136 and 156, but omits the officially scenic 146, which goes by some obvious places like Lenny's Indian Head. I guess there's no danger of the CT shoreline turning into the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore, but there are lots of places for a pleasant escape from the city without going all the way to Noank!

      1 Reply
      1. re: linguist

        The NYT food writers should read CH.

      2. That whole are has changed over the years.

        I used to hang out around Essex/Saybrook almost every weekend & got to know the eateries there well. I got to see the opening of the Orchid Vietnamese place in Saybrook/Westbrook (on Rt 1 anyway) when quiche was considered risque.

        Al Forno on RT 1 & 166 was known as "yuppie pizza" - good food.

        In any case - the NYT article was way too short & incomplete. Then again, I like Mario Batali, but what does anything west of East Haven have to do with The Shoreline. Historically, The Shoreline was East of New Haven - there was even a railroad called the Shoreline RR (during the mid-1800s, and a trolley line running from New Haven to Old Saybrook with Shoreline in its name (Shoreline Electric Railway).

        Eateries - yes there are lots & stay away from them on the weekends if you like peace & quiet.

        Gee - does anybody remember the Cuckoo's Nest? Eating al Fresco during dusk was very interesting! You had to drink your cerveza or Margarita faster than the big saltwater mosquitoes drained out your vital fluids.

        18 Replies
        1. re: algct

          The author is supposed to be a CT native, so one would think they would know the better places, but then again, as harrie says, at least it would keep the tourists away.

          These pieces in the Times seem to follow a theme of hit the highlights of tourist spots, which works for them for a short piece (see their series of 36 Hours In....)

          That said, for me I admit I do like Abbott's, is it more for the scenery, atmosphere, and family tradition? Most likely.
          I like Liv's Oyster Bar in Old Saybrook, Aspen in Saybrook has always proved very reliable, and the wine bar at the Griswold Inn in Essex is fairly good, but can be spotty.
          The Clam Castle in Madison can be a surprising stop for the great fried clams.

          I'd love to hear from others to add some places to my shoreline list!

          1. re: dennisl

            There is the Lobster Landing - 152 Commerce St Clinton (foot of Commerce St by the sound).

            Great Lobster Rolls - just lobster & roll & butter.
            Hours: June - mid September: Sun - Thurs, 11am - 6pm; Fri, Sat, 11am - 7pm. October - May: Wed - Sat, 11am - 6pm; Mon, Tues, closed.

            & other stuff too.

            Worth a trip & the outlanders don't know about it (yet).

          2. re: algct


            Historically the 'shoreline' was east of New Haven....sure depends on your perspective and where in the state you grew up.

            I was born in Grace New Haven Hospital in the early 1950s. New Haven was (and is) a shoreline city. We had a cottage in Woodmont (Milford) near Anchor beach and also a membership in the Surf Club in Savin Rock(West Haven). That was all referred to as the shoreline.

            My wife was born in Bridgeport. When her family talks about the CT Shoreline it's from Seaside Park in Bridgeport and heads WEST to Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.

            My ex-wife was born in Hartford. Her family's perspective on the shoreline was anything between Old Lyme and Ocean Beach in New London.

            Your reference to the railroad or old is interesting, but the current name of the railroad operation between New Haven and New London is Shoreline EAST. I think that you really need the 'East' modifier when claiming east of East Haven to be the shoreline in CT.

            Because, as much as I like some of the eating on the eastern shore, I certainly consider a place like Stowe's in West Haven as shoreline eating, as well as Chick's and Jimmies which are mediocre but shoreline.

            1. re: bagelman01

              Given my upbringing in Da Bronx and currently ensconced in Easternmost Fairfield Co., my perspective of the Shoreline is East of New Haven (Shoreline East - eh?); the Gold Coast - between Greenwich and Fairfield; Bridgeport & Stratford - Bridgeport & Stratford.

              Now I can duck as there are probably as many opinions on the Shoreline as there are who has the best pizza in the area.

              There are fine eateries on the coast. Jimmies was great when they were a hot dog stand & the old man ran it. I know Jimmy (the younger) personally & now that his kid is running it, he still insists on having the same hot dogs made in New Haven as before.

              So Jimmies hot dogs are still the same. Kinda like Nathans. If you come to think about it, the corporate histories are similar with franchising (Jimmies tried to expand into Hamden) and retrenching. But I guess this would be worthy of its own thread.

              1. re: algct

                What's the place on the Post Road out from Madison by the Singing Bridge? They always had a good lobster roll.

                I don;t get to Connecticut as much as I'd like..I spent much of my childhood there and it sure has changed a LOT in the last twenty/thirty years. What was that Italian joint in Greenwich by the Indian Harbor Yacht Club?

                1. re: hazelhurst

                  I think it is Capt Bills or Bills.

                  The singing bridge got laryngitis - they replaced the span over 10 years ago.

                  BTW - the Shoreline Electric trolley line ran just north of the singing bridge - right were the dock is - across the inlet. Just a little trivia.

                  The food was good, but it turned into a party place - quite noisy & crowded. Nice place in a snowstorm though.....

                  1. re: algct

                    Yeah I remember the replacement going on. I was last there about five years ago. My usual haunts aroundthere are the Gris (where I went before Bill Winterer had ever heard of it) and then I have some friends who take me to the Madison Beach Club. Also Lenny's when down there.

                  2. re: hazelhurst

                    Manero's, with their great garlic bread and gorgonzolla dressing?

                    1. re: Tunia

                      Manero's closed more than a few years ago. It was a great neighborhood place.

                      1. re: Johnct

                        Yes, even their locations on the Berlin Turnpike, and in Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, FL

                        Garlic Bread, Gorgonzola Dressing and Prime Rib on the bone the size of a tennis Racket.

                        1. re: bagelman01

                          There was also a location in Rosyln LI (or very close to there) where I had my 1st (and last) 3 martini lunch. What a waste of an afternoon.

                          They also had a few wooden seats from, I think, the Polo Grounds as you came in the door. Since this was around 1973, I'm assuming it was the Polo Grounds or Ebbits Field since the original (House Ruth Built version - not George's Court) Yankee Stadium was still exant.

                  3. re: algct

                    al-->family (all born at Royal Hospital) came from Fordham and the Concourse to New Haven in 1952, I was born here. Now I live in Trumbull.
                    As to Jimmie's Hot Dogs....I grew up eating them in Savin Rock and they were Roessler Yellow Tag. BUT Roessler's is LONG out of business, and if they are being made in New Haven then they are likely Hummels (even if a special recipe). Noit only did Jimmies have the company owned location in Hamden, but there was a franchise location on RT 7 north of Norwalk (If I remember correctly)

                    Still buy my bread everday delivered to Porricelli's from E&V Bakery in the Bronx

                    1. re: bagelman01

                      I popped out at Bronx hospital near Jerome Ave & lived on Noble Ave for 16 years.
                      The Florida baking co was around the block so after 5PM you could have gotten still warm architype New York "hard" rolls. They needed a little aging to harden up.
                      2 for a nickel - grab them out of the rolling bin & put them in a paper bag yourself.

                      In Shelton for the last 35 or so. Once in awhile I get over to Porricelli's, but not for the last 9 years since my work pattern changed. There was a great coffee klatch at Starbucks there weekday mornings around 7:30 back then.

                      Yeah - I think they are Hummels at Jimmy's.

                      I don't recall the Rt 7 enterprise - I'll have to ask.
                      The Hamden store never really panned out. But Jimmy knows real estate well & did just fine getting out My cousins were just up Dixwell, but we never went into the joint. Just to Sally's (they had the secret password - never waited - boy what a shock I had the 1st time I went alone.).

                      1. re: algct

                        The Gagliardis may have known Real Esate well, but they didn't own the Dixwell Avenue parcel. It is owned by the shopping center. My father had two stores in the Hamden Plaza and was preident of the merchants association for more than 20 years. I worked in the plaza in the 60s and 70s. Jimmie's took the failed Howard Johnson's location.
                        I too, have never waited at Sally's, it's a nice perk.

                        1. re: algct

                          Just a pup, but I remember the Hamden Jimmies was always jammed....A lack of customers wasn't the Gag's demise. And what kind of hazing/dues must be endured to walk into Sally's?!!!

                    2. re: bagelman01

                      Definitely agree with bagelman01 on this. Mother was from Bridgeport. Father from New Haven. So where did I grow up? Right smack in the middle in Milford. Not that it was ever so precisely defined, but I always thought of the "shoreline" as the coast, east of Seaside Park. I can't imagine excluding Silver Sands, or Gulf Beach or Woodmont or Savin Rock from the "Shoreline". The Milford High Schools' sports teams played in the "Shoreline Conference" back in those days. So somebody thought we were part of the shoreline. And when speaking in "chow" terms, it is impossible to even begin the discussion of shoreline food without including Paul's, Mr. Sizzle, Jimmie's, Phyllis', Turks, Chick's and the like. While the center of gravity may have shifted eastward with the yuppification of Branford, Madison and the like, the true heart of shoreline food from 1960-1980 was definitely west of New Haven.

                      1. re: FoodieJim

                        FoodieJime......Born in New Haven later lived in Hamden, Now in Trumbull. Summered at our cottage in Woodmont, then at the Surf Club Savin Rock.

                        Family had a business in Milford from 1962 to 1975. I then worked in Milford again from 2001-2008. Brother still lives there.

                        FYI....Mr SiZZZle was spelled with THREE Zs.

                        Ate lunch at Turk's yesterday

                        Tonight, we're taking MIL to Stowe's in West Haven for supper.

                        I'm in Milford at least 4x/week. We eat in Milford and West Haven far more often than near home. Much better choice of foods.

                        What I miss most of the West Haven/Milford Shoreline????

                        Peter Frank's Fun House and HoneyDew PopCorn (especially the root beer flavored brick) and demolition derbies at Quigley stadium.

                        1. re: bagelman01

                          ...and Jasper Wrath concerts at the Milford Oyster Festival.

                  4. I figure the shoreline is any place along the shore.

                    I was born in New Haven. My family didn't have a beach house, we had a boat. So summers were mostly spent in Milford. So that meant Paul's. It is gone now, alas. But they hung in there for a good long while.

                    1. We are about to move to Guilford/ Madison area and when visiting were very disappointed with the food there. We didn't have one decent meal- anyone have any ideas on where to find good food in the area? We like hole in the wall ethnic places, which may mean we have to go to New Haven??

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: amandachef

                        There are lots of good choices on the shoreline!

                        Try Bar Bouchon (A) and Elizabeths (B) in Madison, and Ayuthai (B) and Som Siam (B+) in Guilford to start with. If you want to go a little further afield, try Taste of China (A), Lobster Landing(B) and Hanami (A-) in Clinton, Darbar (B) or Le Petit Cafe (A-) in Branford, or Cafe Routier (A-) in Westbrook. Even more in Old Saybrook and Essex.

                        Fresh fish is good at Lenny & Joes in Madison and Westbrook, and the Clam Shack in Madison, or Lenny's Indian Head Inn in Branford..

                        For an upscale grocery, visit Roberts in North Madison.

                        1. re: DonShirer

                          Thank you! This helps so much, looking forward to checking them out..

                          1. re: DonShirer

                            I don't quite agree with all of Don's grades (Bar Bouchon was slightly disappointing after all the hype, and certainly not better than Café Routier and Le Petit Café), but he's covered most of the ground. I would add the new branch of Hanami in Branford which is, if anything, even better than the one in Clinton. Assaggio in Branford, while hardly a hole in the wall, can be quite good. The new "Mr. J Asian Bistro" in Guilford, replacing Shangri La, is unfortunately at best a B-, trying to do too many things (Japanese, Thai, Chinese) and not quite succeeding at them (at least the things my wife and I tried). Maybe it will improve: they had lots more customers the other night than Shangri La used to have.

                            1. re: DonShirer

                              Tried Bar Bouchee (new name, same place) tonight for the first time (didn't make it up last September because the cottage battled the hurricane and lost...) Did a cross-tasting of many of the appetizers and was at first disappointed; nothing grabbed me and said "I am the dish you need to come back for" but after about the fourth one, a pattern appeared. At first, I thought the food lacked passion and strived for minimalistic perfection, but by dish four, it became apparent that the focus was comfort food, with the goal being harmony. I could taste the escargot, not garlic and butter as in so many places. I could taste the freshness and brine of the mussels, and the sauce was a high-test mussel-juice, not ten herbs, butter, garlic and lemon. The tartar was almost exactly the CIA recipe circa 1990 (I make it often and know the drill) except it lacked the CIA's "dash of crushed red pepper" and "dash of paprika" (discussion with the exec chef after the tasting notes confirmed these differences.) The duck confit was not earth-shattering, but very, very good.
                              In all cases, everything was cooked to absolute perfection, but lacked the "wow" factor; I now think that's by design - this is French comfort food; delicious; cooked so that you can taste the main ingredient, not the accoutrements; simple so that each dish holds together with no jagged edges, no flaws, no off-notes.
                              Philosophy question: Is it necessarily less successful if you design something that cannot achieve unique stardom, in order to create something that gets a consistent 90% rating for a homespun (if you're from Paris) comfort memory?
                              I usually vote for "take the risk" (I'm a Leffist) but this is so reminiscent of Soltner's style in the heyday of Lutece that I'm tempted to put an asterisk into its rating based on "smile-factor."

                            2. re: amandachef

                              I quite like Tacuba in Branford. The food is tasty, the drinks are too and the decor is really fun.