Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Located in New Haven.

This was our first visit to this New Haven eatery.

You must know the address, as there is no sign announcing its presence on a crowded New Haven street.
We were greeted and seated promptly, upstairs.
Modern, barely hinting at a post modern motif, a narrow mirror the length of the wall, and a fireplace filled with round stones and votive candles are the only decorations.
Tables are arranged vertically along the two walls.
Service was prompt and informed.
One special, a salad for an appetizer, was on offer, otherwise it was strictly the items on the menu.
I chose the tamarind glazed pork belly with apple puree, my wife the spiced scallops with roasted cauliflower and dates.
Pork belly is one of my favorite foods. Much like steak, beets, and scallops, you don't have to do much to it. Bespoke did a wee bit too much to it.Did this stop me from cleaning my plate? No. So it is a minor complaint.
My wife's scallops were very good, the cauliflower being the star of the dish, reminding us that we don't this at home often enough.

My main course was the sugarcane lime glazed habanero pork ribs (yeah, I love pork!) with mofongo. My wife chose the lavender rubbed monkfish with charred tomatoes and two olives.

I like a bit of heat, so the habanero didn't scare me. And it needn't have. I didn't taste any habanero. In fact, I didn't detect a hint of heat. Still the ribs were very nice, juicy an falling off the bone. What saved the dish, however, was the mofongo(softened plantains)
and the bright, fresh cilantro in the relish. Both were absolutely delicious.
The ribs were much too rich, but still I had to force myself to push the plate away.
The monkfish was nice if not overly exciting.

We skipped the offered cheese course and chose a ricotta cheesecake for dessert.Though not as creamy or rich as I would have preferred, it was perfectly acceptable, and a nice, light end to a heavy meal.

We will visit again.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Union League Cafe

Located in New Haven.

One of our favorites, we dine here often.

Elegant and refined, it is everything it pretends to be.
Jackets aren't required, but why would you not wear one!

Our most recent visit was for lunch.

I started with the warm beet salad, my wife the lentil bacon soup.
As I have previously asserted, beets are an underrated,under used vegetable.
My salad could not have been better. The best part was not, however, the beets, but the cheese, ribiola cheese. I could have eaten this by the bowl!
My wife's soup was also very good, hearty and homey.

For mains, I chose the roulade of sole and scallops with a leek fondant and sauteed mushrooms, my wife the roasted salmon with fricasse of brussel sprouts and smoked bacon.
Both were excellent, as usual.Cooked and sauced nicely.
Rarely do we have even a minor complaint about a dining experience at the Union League.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Bee And Thistle Inn

Located in Old Lyme.

Our evening did not begin auspiciously.
We arrived timely for our 7:30 reservation. Our hostess, a very young-teenager?-girl directed us politely, but without explanation to a nicely appointed ante room.
We seated ourselves on the sofa facing the blazing fireplace.And waited.
Eventually the girl returned and offered us drinks. We waited. The young man who would be our server brought our drinks.
Finally, we inquired as to the status of our table and were promptly seated.

The Bee & Thistle is another Connecticut charmer.
Decorated simply and traditionally, elegant without being pretentious, it oozes New England.

We had another good Sancerre.

I started with the quail with carmelized squash and roasted grapes. I had never had quail before, and did not know what to expect. It was excellent, having a nice grilled flavor. The squash and grapes were a nice accompaniment.
My wife had the goat cheese and heirloom tomato salad. While it was certainly good, the cheese was nice and creamy, it was nothing to write home about.

For mains, I had the pistachio and dijon encrusted rack of lamb, and my wife had the diver scallops.

The lamb ranks as the best I have had. Perfectly cooked, nicely flavored, excellent.
My goat cheese stuffed red bliss potatoes were also excellent.
It's one of the better meals I've had.

My wife had the diver scallops...unfortunately. We both love scallops. What's not to love about these sweet, succulent sea dwellers.
However, these scallops tasted "fishy." Perhaps they had been stored in too close a proximity to some fish. Shame.

For dessert, I had the lemon custard sponge cake, being a fan of all things lemon. It did not disappoint. Nice, lemony without being overpowering. Lovely.
My wife had the pear ginger crisp and was well satisfied.

All in all, a nice meal.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Copper Beech Inn

Located in Ivoryton.

The Copper Beech Inn is one of those special places which lend New England its charm.
Nestled away in a small rural town, there is no reason not to want to come to the Copper Beech.
We came to eat.

The dining room is warm and comfortable. Appointed nicely, but ultimately unassuming. Comfortable in its own skin, if you will.

Another meal, another Sancerre. I love this wine, as it never disappoints.

To start, I chose the pork belly with a black garlic glaze, cucumber pickled radish-cilantro, and scallion pancake; my wife, the Grilled Cheese Sandwich: oxtail, Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese, black truffles, horseradish foam and smoked mushrooms.

My pork belly was good; loved the pickled radish.
However, the scallion pancake was awful: thin, hard and dry.

Ah, but now the grilled cheese: the best! One of the best dishes my wife and I have ever eaten. Simply lovely.

For mains we had the halibut with almond puree, ricotta gnocchi and sorels and morels; and the veal chop with cheddar croquette and spring onion salad.

Both were very good, nicely prepared and tasty.

But it's the grilled cheese we'll remember.

Bill's Seafood Restaurant

Located in Westbrook.

This classic seafood joint sits on the Patchogue River adjacent to the "Singing Bridge" in Westbrook.
They don't take reservations, and they dont take credit cards.
So show up early on a Friday or Saturday night, especially if you expect to sit outside on the deck, and bring cash.
The primary draw of Bills is the outdoor seating on the deck with its multitude of picnic tables.
Summertime on the shoreline does not get better than this.
And a lot of people are onto that fact. Which is why you'll have to queue up and expect a wait of about 30 minutes for you table, if you arrive at the height of dinner hour.

Inside you won't find anything special, except maybe the Dixieland jazz band, and the old couple dancing.
The room is relatively dark, with substantial old wooden tables and a nautical theme throughout.
But the deck is where you want to be. Fortunately, you'll be lined up near the bar, so enjoy a cocktail while you wait.

Once seated, you will find the wait staff attentive and quick, given the size of their audience.
Our waitress brought drinks for two tables, and took our order with only one hand free.
Bill knows how to turn tables.

I ordered the New England Clam Chowder, and a special, Jamaican Jerk Swordfish on a bed of greens with the house vinagrette.
My wife chose the seafood chowder and mussels in a white sauce.

Complaint: my chowder was only just warm.
Compliment: my wife's seafood chowder was excellent. Perfectly balanced, and not too fishy.

My wife's mussels were also very good.

Now, to my swordfish. There was nothing Jamaican or Jerky about it. I doubt it had ever even been introduced to a habanero.
However, it was seasoned nicely and cooked to near perfection.
The vinagrette was slightly sweet and very tasty.

For dessert, you can visit Ashley's Ice Cream located on the same property.

Overall, a very good dining experience.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Located in Old Saybrook.

Attached to the Country Barn Furniture store on Main Street, Aspen is dining in a slightly upscale, but still relaxed atmosphere.

The dining room is modern, but still warm with it's earth tone appointments.

Though it's a tiny bit noisy, the menu reassures you that you are not in a typical Friday night grille.
It's more lively than loud.

Not surprisingly, seafood offerings are prominent on the bill of fare. Certainly this is not unusual in a shoreline New England town.

Appetizers include grilled tiger shrimp, the ubiquitous clam chowder, calamari, yellow fin tuna, and lump crab cakes.

I started with the pan seared foie gras, I seem to always start with foie gras, served with a brioche crouton, pear marmalade and a cherry reduction.
My wife ordered the grilled hearts of romaine salad with pancetta and dill and avocado dressing.

We were offered bread, but had to ask our server for bread plates.
The bread came with a very nice, creamy butter.

My foie gras was very tasty, no complaints, but not the best I've had.
My wife was served the wrong salad, and debated whether to have this error corrected.
Thank goodness she did. The grilled hearts of romaine she had served as proof that not all salads are created equal.
Lovely flavor, it put in the mind of a nice steak!

For mains, I had the braised pork shank with parmesan polenta, roccolini, and rich red wine veal jus; my wife, the seared monkfish medallions truffled potato gnocchi, brussel sprouts, and brown butter with lemon sauce.

Now, I am of the opinion that any thing braised should simply fall apart with moist succulence simply when you look at; and though the meat did fall off the bone, it was not as moist as I would preferred, though the flavor was fine, if subtle. The polenta with veal jus was fantastic.
My wife's monkfish was also slightly overcooked but still good. The truffled gnocchi was, to my taste, overpowering, but she enjoyed it.

Again, we had a white wine from the San Cerre region of France and it did not disappoint.

For desert, I had the chocolate bombe, which was rich, creamy chocolately goodness.

So, the shoreline now has a nice addition to its fine dining roster.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lenny & Joe's Fish Tale

Located in Madison.

Not all Lenny & Joe's are created equal.
With 3 locations, two, including Madison, are counter service. Westbrook is family style, with a wait staff.

Lenny & Joe's, while a slight cut above, is still a roadside fish place.
And that's a good thing.

The fare is simple, affordable, and tasty.

Service is quite impressive at the Madison location.
We ordered and were given #63; they were serving #39 at the time. But within 10 minutes our order was up.

Your choices are the classics: shrimp, scrod, clams, lobster, rolls, and even a hotdog for the kids. Yes, Lenny & Joe's is kid friendly, with plenty of outdoor picnic tables and an ice cream stand, not to mention a carousel.

Inside, you're responsible for finding your own table. Don't be offended if other diners hover, waiting for you to leave. The place is popular and seats are at a premium.

You won't be overwhelmed with the decor, but who cares. That's not the point.

My wife and I got the fish and chips with a side of coleslaw; my son, the hotdog.

Your food is delivered on cardboard plates and styrofoam bowls. You carry it all on the big plastic tray.

The food, all of it, is good.
Roadside good.
And that's good stuff.
Perfect summertime stuff on the New England shore.