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"Connie & Ted's" opens June 4 -- and I'm going!

My NEW husband (who was my "better half" for the 12+ years prior to the wedding) just snagged reservations at Michael Cimarusti's new venture (Connie & Ted's) for opening night. Since we love Providence, I look forward to Cimarusti's new, more casual venue. I'll let you know how it goes (but I know Opening Night is not necessarily a good night to judge it by).

Guess my former better half is now a far superior half!

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  1. I'm jealous. How'd he get the res? Have you checked out the menu yet? It's linked to in the "most anticipated" thread.

    2 Replies
    1. re: PeterCC

      I'm not sure who he called, but it was a restaurant number. Since we've been to Providence, they already had our data in their computer. Whoever answered the phone and helped him was very, very nice (a big plus and, frankly, a great surprise!!) I saw the menu via Urban Daddy before he called (he heard me swooning over it). Eater LA also posted it. I'll let you know what we think! I know there are bound to be opening night kinks, but I think it will be fun!

      1. re: PeterCC

        To PeterCC:

        I checked with my husband and he gave me the phone # of Connie & Ted's. All he did was call and ask for the earliest (in terms of hour of the day) open reservation (we're not keen on noise):

        (323) 848-2722


      2. Can't wait to hear about it. Yeah, good fish!

        1. I thought it was already open???

          1 Reply
          1. And how was it? Very curious to find out, thanks!

            1. Went for the opening last night (walk-in). Tried the following:

              - raw oysters (beau soleil and tatamagouche)
              - clam chowda sampler
              - clam cakes
              - crab cake
              - grilled calamari
              - portuguese fish stew
              - bluefish (catch of the day) grilled plain + side of mac
              - lobster roll (cold)
              - indian pudding

              I enjoyed everything but the mains (last 3). The chowda sampler and crab cake were abs delicious. The fish stew could've used a kick, the bluefish was of a fishy taste (not that it wasn't fresh) which could just mean that I'm not a fan of the fish itself, the mac & chz had good flavor but the noodles were completely overcooked to the point of mush. I had initially been torn choosing between the cold and hot lobster rolls and decided to go with the cold with the idea that the likelihood of hot being a success was greater since it's primarily a matter of it being cooked well + butter, whereas cold lobster rolls vary because the dressing components vary from place to place. Connie&Ted's dressing was not very good and it really didn't help that the portion was tiny. While I know not to expect the same portion size as you would generally get on the east coast, I expected there to be more lobster meat.

              Finished with the Indian Pudding which was a cornmeal, molasses (and ginger??) bread pudding of sorts, topped with vanilla ice cream. First few spoonfuls were delicious, but then my sweet tooth self grew bored. The table next to ours had the devils' food cake which will have to be what I try next time. It looked like the blondie was the best seller of the night, judging by how many servings I saw leave the kitchen.

              All in all I'm so glad they're finally open. I'm confident they'll do well, esp with the lack of seafood shack/restaurants in the area. Can't wait to go back!!

              11 Replies
              1. re: namstermonster

                I've been generally underwhelmed with lobster rolls on this coast. I mean, I completely understand that as a New Englander, I probably have unrealistic expectations for lobster rolls here, but even after lowering them I've been disappointed. *shrug*

                Were the clam cakes little fritter balls, or were they smaller versions of stuffies (stuffed cherrystones or littlenecks)?

                How was each of the chowdahs? Very much looking forward to trying the Rhode Island there.

                Thanks for reporting!

                1. re: PeterCC

                  Agree with you on the lobster rolls...but that won't stop me from trying the next :). The clam cakes were like fritter balls (a bit batter-heavy but still good). The menu actually has stuffies as well which I had wanted, but I decided to keep my order for a party of 2 a bit more manageable.

                  All 3 chowdas were delectable, each in its own right. My fave was the RI clear, the NE had a surprisingly thin broth but was abs delicious...the Manhattan was great as well. Honestly enjoyed all 3~

                  1. re: namstermonster

                    What's the best lobster roll you had here? I think the Cousins truck was it for me, so far... Did not like Son of a Gun's at all.

                    I saw the stuffies on the menu. Top two items (along with the RIC) on my to-try list there.

                    BTW, here's the OP's review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/904532

                    1. re: PeterCC

                      idk about best but i actually thought SoG's was a-ok (granted I only had it back when they 1st opened). Hinoki&theBird's was pretty good, but I would like to see more of the standard lobster roll. Lobsta Truck's is fine...still have to try Cousins.

                      1. re: namstermonster

                        To all of you above:

                        Check out Littlefork's lobster roll. $24, massive, comes with fresh chips and delicious pickled veggies.

                        I found it MUCH better than Lobstatruck's, and with greater value.

                        1. re: ns1

                          I have tried the lobster roll at Cousins and Lobsta truck. IMO, there isn't any difference between the two. Both are fresh frozen and OK. I'm spoiled by Maine lobster rolls. They are fresh out of salt water.

                          1. re: cujo

                            Maybe it's purely subjective, but I found the lobster from Cousins to be better than Lobsta. I mean, two lobsters rolls in Maine can taste different, so...

                            1. re: PeterCC

                              I never noticed a difference in the taste between any two Maine lobster rolls, assuming both are dressed identically.
                              What I did notice was the season of the year changes the
                              flavor and texture----and this held true at all of the lobster shacks.

                              1. re: cujo

                                Don't mean to imply the differences were great, and maybe I'm more comparing individual lobsters rather than the lobster "salad" (which would, if well mixed, average out the meat from the various lobsters in it) but occasionally one lobster would definitely be sweeter and tastier than another.

                                1. re: PeterCC

                                  Yes, I agree. I thought the difference in sweet taste depends on whether the lobster is male or female. Also, I noticed that smaller lobsters were more flavorfull than the older & larger ones.
                                  So many variables - gender, season,age and size.

                2. re: namstermonster

                  I went too -- see my review separately! I had a similar experience as you, Name!!

                3. Connie & Ted's - Opening Night (a review)

                  Somehow, my brand new husband got us reservations to eat at Providence's Michael Cimarusti's new (more casual) restaurant, Connie & Ted's, last night.

                  I'll start by saying it is probably not fair to review a restaurant on its opening night. But I kept that in mind and am not even going to mention a few missteps.

                  We got to the restaurant on time (early - 6:00) and it was already a-buzz. The building stands out from far, far away. If you've seen the photos, they don't do it justice. You CANNOT miss it -- and it's a very playful, fun look.

                  We were seated on the patio, which I liked. It was about 72 degrees out and beautiful. The service was EXTREMELY efficient (perhaps a little too much so! But more on that later.) I didn't get the waiter's name, but he was very friendly and helpful.

                  I decided to try one of their "signature" cocktails that they feature in the menu. I couldn't tell from the write-ups which one would appeal, so I told the server I didn't like sweet drinks. He knew just the off-the-menu drink to offer -- a whiskey-based fruit punch. It turned out to be a very small glass with too-many ice cubes (for $12). I liked it fine -- it was indeed refreshing -- but frankly, it was sweet!

                  On to the food! My better half ordered a half a dozen oysters and enjoyed them very much. If you know your oysters, you'll like this a lot: they have a huge selection of fresh oysters (which appears to change depending on what is fresh). I ordered a fresh broiled scallop cooked in its own shell. I love scallops and this was absolutely delicious. (One would expect a perfect scallop from this chef and this did not disappoint!)

                  Then we both ordered the trio of chowders. There is a Manhattan style, a New England style and finally what they call a Rhode Island Clear clam chowder. We both had fun with the three small chowders. My husband felt all three chowders were "thin." He expected the clear one to be thin, but not the New England, for example. To his surprise, he liked the Rhode Island clear soup the best. Me, I liked them all! Funny thing is I probably liked the oyster crackers the best! They were homemade and shaped in very small cubes -- like a child's tooth.

                  Our soups were rushed away -- I had to tell them no, I was not finished -- because the entrees were ready. My husband saw our waiter motion to the server to bring them back to the kitchen because we were still enjoying our soup. That was... not good.

                  Meanwhile, the tables were filling and the noise was heightening. It felt like a scene in Annie Hall. There were CAA agents to the left of me, music producers to the right... (True sound bite: "You know, if you just do one night at the Bowl, it's the same as 18 shows in the mid-bleepin'-west!")

                  When we first arrived at Connie & Ted's, we could hear the music -- it was from my era (CCR, Dylan, Neil Young, Allman Brothers...) An hour later, it didn't matter anymore, it was getting so loud. When I went to use the restroom, it was a zoo. Wait staff was all cloistered around the front counter, pushing, grabbing, bumping into each other. The restroom, as an aside, is not well designed. Some unlucky employee had better be assigned just to cleaning it every two minutes. There was a trash can in the lavatory the size of a miniature -- like it was made for one of those hobbyists' doll houses. The sink-trough collected water and looked perpetually dirty. Good luck with that.

                  Now the entrees. My husband ordered the striped bass which was on the list of fresh-that-day. The server recommended that it be prepared with an herb crust. I didn't know what to order. The server extolled the virtues of the scampi-like grilled shrimp, so I agreed. It must be noted that we kept asking the server what he thought; he did not impose his opinions on us.

                  The entrees came out quickly (again, too quickly). My husband's fish was not great, I am very sad to report. For being so rushed, it was actually a tad overcooked and seriously under seasoned. My shrimp was not scampi-like at all as it too cried out for salt and pepper (much less garlic). When we tried to add salt and pepper, our shakers had been completely overfilled and nothing came out... till we unscrewed the top and a mountain of salt poured out (luckily onto the table).

                  Unwilling to be hurried out, we ordered dessert. It was a homemade vanilla ice cream that tasted much like a McConnell's ice cream with a sort of candied walnut topping. It tasted good though (hey, I love McConnells!) and was not overpriced at all!

                  The plusses of our dinner include the excitement of being there when it opened (which obviously was also sort of a minus!). I must also rave about the stand-out architecture and design as well as the ambiance/vibe before it became a cacophony of people and noise. The New England clam bake/fresh fish theme is a great addition to L.A. The starters that we ate were delicious overall and I enjoyed the whimsy that permeated the menu. Finally on the plus list has to be the very attentive service. Even the busboy was sweet.

                  The downside to the experience was the rushing (that, without a doubt, tops the minus list) and feeling like we'd better leave so they could turn over the table. Maybe we chose the wrong entrees because, as mentioned, they needed seasoning! Next time I think going with the boiled New England dinner or clam bake or perhaps a Portuguese stew -- all might be a smarter choice. I've never had a lobster roll, so maybe I should have tried that!

                  One last gripe-ette is just my own personal pet peeve: I really hate the L.A. scene. Since it was so crowded and noisy, you got to hear every pretentious comment ("I don't like oysters, but I own that feeling..." or, "So I told Miley to change her hair...") Then again, that's entertainment!

                  And we will be back! (Early, before it becomes a zoo..!)

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: susiequeue

                    Sounds like a restaurant on its opening night.

                    1. re: susiequeue

                      Beautifully written review. Really captured the essence of a new hipster restaurant. Great descriptions of the food. Thanks for taking the time to post your impressions.

                      1. re: susiequeue

                        Hi Hounds -

                        I went to Connie & Ted's on its opening night and wrote this review. (Jonathan Gold even quoted me somewhere! And you know what Andy Warhol would have said about me then!)

                        WELL, we are finally going back this Saturday (March 8). We have friends would like to visit and so we go. I promise to tell you all what I think!

                        I have read the all the CH reviews on C&T's, but if anyone has any other insights/suggestions/tips, I'll take 'em! What have you loved? Hated? Tolerated?

                        Thank you all!

                        1. re: susiequeue

                          What quote did J Gold use of yours? Or can you not say because of identity reasons?

                          1. re: BacoMan

                            Actually, I'd like to sound James Bondy, but the truth is both my brand-not-so-new husband and I just read and re-read My Brilliant Review and can't remember for the lives of us what he quoted! You'd think those 15 minutes of mine would have burned my words into my brain...

                            I do know he agreed with my Better Half on the Rhode Island chowder. And I doubt he cared about the Beautiful People that I loved to mock. (I still like the line that I overheard where the person said, "I don't like oysters but I own it.")

                            We shall continue to search! Meanwhile, I will re-live my fame.

                          2. re: susiequeue

                            parker house rolls, hot buns, or whatever they're called on the menu, are insanely delicious. I had a hard time not filling up on them.

                            stuffies are good, though kind of pricey for what amounts to not much food.


                            1. re: soniabegonia

                              I've read more than once about the rolls. I'm glad I did because I never would have thought of them! And it's GOOD to have filler there because you know -- it's good to fill up at an expensive restaurant (that under-seasons its entrees!) We'll order them! Thanks!

                              1. re: susiequeue

                                A lot of negative experiences seem to occur when people go too heavy on the fried stuff. I thought the Portuguese fish stew and New England dinners were pretty good. Steak was actually very good also. Missed out on the RI clam chowder, wish I hadn't. Simple grilled Alaskan halibut was perfectly done.

                            2. re: susiequeue

                              clam chowder
                              raw bar
                              lobster rolls
                              simple grilled fish

                              Not a fan of any of the sauces

                              1. re: susiequeue

                                RI chowder
                                Clam cakes
                                Clam roll
                                Lobster roll, CT style
                                Cheeseburger actually rocks
                                Indian pudding

                                1. re: susiequeue

                                  the rolls
                                  raw clams
                                  fried clams with bellies
                                  lobster roll with butter

                              2. Just called for res. Booked through July 1!

                                I was one of the first clients to dine at Angelini. Loved it till it got so popular you could only reserve before 6 or after 9 on any weekend night. Gave up trying.

                                Looks like this could become the same situation.

                                Other than walking in or reserving a month or more in advance, good luck!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: globalgourmet

                                  That's ok...there plenty of fish in the sea!!!

                                2. BTW - let me add to the rumour mill here.

                                  There's going to be a Connie & Ted's #2.

                                  Not much more to report. But it will NOT be on the west side (at least for now). as the powers that be feel the Santa Monica area is already well represented for seafood-y restaurants.

                                  4 Replies
                                    1. re: JAB

                                      They would crush it in the OC. If only we could get a Bestia or even Bucato OC.

                                      I'm guessing downtown or Silverlake area for C&T2

                                      1. re: Porthos

                                        I believe all those choices are being considered.

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          If there's ever a Bucato OC...that may be it. No more reason to bother with LA.

                                    2. There really has been no review written about C & T's that I've seen for several months. Is it currently ok, good, very good, great…or what? If any CH has been there recently, would love to hear about what's going on. Usually no news, means that nothing special is happening!

                                      30 Replies
                                      1. re: josephnl

                                        There was a thread about 2ish weeks ago.

                                        1. re: josephnl

                                          It's fine.

                                          I wouldn't say mind-blowing, but it's hearty, fairly authentic New England seafood shack fare.

                                          The beer selection is also quite good, if that's important to you.

                                          The ambiance is a little weird...feels awkward with the Hollywood Glam scene crunched into the sea food shack veneer... the waiters are all pretty aloof (I would guess very high on xanax).

                                          But the chowders are super clammy, the fried clams had bursting bellies, the fries stay crisp overnight, and the indian pudding with fresh-made vanilla ice cream is a scream.

                                          You'll most likely have a good time, especially if you either 1) order light (just a fried entree + dessert), or 2) you are morbidly obese/a competitive athlete/body builder.

                                          1. re: josephnl

                                            Went ~1.5 wks ago. Thought it was very tasty, but perhaps mildly-moderately overpriced (surprise, surprise). Didn't think the service was that aloof; I think the waiters were just very busy, and our seemed rather... young. Agree that the "scene" is a bit weird (BacoMan describes it well, although I'd also say that the décor is the highest-end seafood shack I've ever seen).

                                            I think it's definitely worth a try, If you're curious.

                                            1. re: ilysla

                                              Yeah...that's also true. It very weird to see that "high end" vibe playing against the "seafood shack" theme. It kind of makes it seem very kitsch, and ironically makes it seem kind of cheap hah

                                              Feels a bit "Vegas-y". I was almost surprised the food was as good as it was given the decor actually.

                                              1. re: BacoMan

                                                Har! I think I would've been more surprised, had I not either heard how much $ it costs here (I think some posters had mentioned it), or if I hadn't taken a peek at the menu first.

                                                There was no doubt left in my mind at all about price, once I saw all the cars in the valet lot ($7 for valet!!!).

                                                1. re: ilysla

                                                  Yeah. There it is again...the idea of valeting to eat at a seafood shack is...very strange.

                                                  1. re: BacoMan

                                                    The valet, however, is not necessary....there is street parking right up the street from them. The valet is strictly there for convenience.

                                                    And I think the decor is well done, it's not reminiscent of any of the beach & pier shacks I used to frequent in New England. I actually think the patio is quite nice.

                                                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                      I know. I would never valet. I was just saying how it affects the atmosphere of the place.

                                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                        I for one enjoyed the convenience of the valet area. We parked 2 Harleys for the price of one. The valet's couldn't have been nicer and actually recommended that we try Ink in our conversation with them.

                                                        1. re: JAB

                                                          My friend was considering bringing her very young son, and I think she would've also considered the valet (in that situation) more than a convenience.... Not fun to walk down a busy street w/ child in tow!

                                                          1. re: ilysla

                                                            I've had no problem valeting there either, was just commenting that there is street parking for those who don't want to incur the extra cost....and the street above, Havenhurst, is a residential one, not very busy at all.

                                                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                              The nearby residential streets were almost completely packed when I went (Sat lunch), and I had to walk over a city block. =( Although, given how fatty the food must be, the walk might've been a good thing.

                                                              1. re: ilysla

                                                                I must be the only person in LA who actually enjoys walking...

                                                                I usually park somewhat far from restaurants. I especially like to have a walk after a meal.

                                                                I'll never understand valet parking.

                                                                1. re: BacoMan

                                                                  Same here. I've actually had a valet eat leftover food I had left in my car.

                                                                  1. re: wienermobile

                                                                    The whole idea of another person getting into my car seems weird to me as well, even besides the walking aspect.

                                                                  2. re: BacoMan

                                                                    We live in the neighborhood and went for the first time. (We also walked, an easy 20 minutes).

                                                                    Chowder sampler was great. I've never had a clear Rhode Island chowder (I've made a red RI chowder before) but this was very nice. Clean and refreshing. Great contract to the richer NE chowder. Likewise, the New England chowder was thickened with cream, not flour, the way God and Kelly's of Revere Beach intended. It's rich without being heavy or thick. Great stuff.

                                                                    I agree that it's a smidge overpriced. I'd like to return for the fried clam bellies.

                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                      I am surprised you didn't think it was too much of a FUB joint haha

                                                                      1. re: BacoMan

                                                                        It was, totally. But we weren't paying.

                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                  3. re: ilysla

                                                                    "Over a city block ?" A whole, entire block ????


                                                                    Yeah, no one walks in LA, sad but true.

                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                      I have no problem walking 20 min one way from where I *live* to go to a restaurant. I walk all the time on the few occasions I travel to other cities/countries.

                                                                      But, in LA, the point of driving, in my mind, is to get me really, REALLY close to the restaurant. Driving 30 min to park at a spot that's a 20 min walk away from the restaurant is, IMHO, a bizarre concept. Sort of like driving 20 min to a gym to run on a treadmill for 30 min. Not something I'm going to do.

                                                                      In other cities, you can people- watch while you walk. In LA, you can... watch the cars go by while you walk. Not fun. I enjoy walking in other cities, where drivers know how to respect pedestrian traffic.

                                                                      If I could take public transport from where I live to a stop 20 min away from the restaurant, that'd be fine. Oh, but that's right. LA doesn't have a dense-enough system of public transport to be useful to me.

                                                                      The problem's LA, folks, not me. ;) ::snort::

                                                                        1. re: ilysla

                                                                          There are 3 stops on 4 different lines all within 2 blocks of Connie and Ted's.

                                                                          1. re: andytseng

                                                                            Um, and if my origin is at a place where there is no bus stop, do you think I should *drive* to a bus stop and then take the bus? ::shrug::

                                                                          2. re: ilysla

                                                                            A 20 minute walk is like a mile away.

                                                                            An average block in LA is nowhere near a mile long.

                                                                            You can quite easily park .1 miles from your restaurant, and take a nice leisurely 2 minute walk.

                                                                            Save yourself $5-$15, get some exercise, and not be that inconvenienced.

                                                                            "In other cities, you can people- watch while you walk. In LA, you can... watch the cars go by while you walk. Not fun. I enjoy walking in other cities, where drivers know how to respect pedestrian traffic."

                                                                            Kind of a self-created, and sled-perpetuating problem then isn't it? If no one walks because no one else walks, obviously no one is going to walk.

                                                                            You'll see me out there at any rate.

                                                                            It is true though. Just drove around a bit with a guy from SF who's never been to LA before, and he commented about how no one was walking around, and this was down a stretch of Melrose where, relative to LA, people walk around a lot hah

                                                                            His comment, "But this city is so great for walking! The warm weather! The flat streets! Beautiful! I will walk everywhere!"

                                                                            I hope he sticks to it. I have no idea what is wrong with LA people. I love walking in this city.

                                                                            1. re: BacoMan

                                                                              Part of the problem is that I don't like feeling like my life is at risk every time I step off the curb to cross the street. In other industralized countries, cars simply creep forward while you're crossing. That's not a problem. Here, it's a totally different issue.

                                                                              I also have no idea how fast you walk, but the rate of a 20-min walk to go 1 mi would be intolerable to me. That's one of the reasons I like visiting NYC; everybody moves as fast as I do. ;)

                                                                              1. re: ilysla

                                                                                And Lyssa, if you are a girl (don't know if you are or not) in high heels, it may just be an oppressive walk even if just a couple of blocks.

                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                  Not a girl and I don't wear high heels, but thanks for the thought. ;)

                                                                                  My final comment (since this has gone way off-topic). I actually don't mind walking a city block normally. But I was running late and my friend was running late, so it's annoying for us to have to still walk another 10 min or so beyond that, when we're already late.... And it could've been torture w/ a young child.... ;) When I'm visiting a place where I expect to walk, I factor in the the walk time....

                                                                                  Back on-topic: we both really enjoyed the food there. =) Love that the New England clam chowder doesn't have some weird thickener in it. My friend found the RI clam chowder to be a wee bit *too* clammy, but I really enjoyed it (although I enjoyed the NE one the most). Clam bellies were great. I could've eaten the whole thing myself. =) Although I wouldn't have been able to eat anything else after that.

                                                                                2. re: ilysla

                                                                                  Yeah, I was being rather generous with the 20 min/mile estimate.

                                                                                  I walk faster than that, but the fact that you walk so fast should only bolster my point about walking, not detract from it...no?

                                                                                  Not sure what you are talking about regarding the traffic. Do you mean when you jay walk?...

                                                                                  1. re: BacoMan

                                                                                    Mods deleted my last post.

                                                                                    So my vague answer to all is, uh, no.