We all love to eat out—some of us spending more in restaurants than we do on groceries. While we’re craving both new and familiar flavors and searching for the top spots to enjoy them, everyone’s idea of a satisfying meal is different. For those seeking restaurants with buzz, we’ve scoped out some of the newest places in town and checked out the scene in nearby Harbor Point and Port Chester. Prefer a low-key lunch or supper at a picnic table? Check out our list of shoreline seafood joints—no, it’s not too late for lobster rolls on the dock. If your ideal night out includes craft cocktails or decadent desserts, don’t miss our list of Sin City indulgences. From sandwich shops to sublime seafood and sushi bars, we have you covered. Of course, our annual food issue wouldn’t be complete without a healthy selection of dining deals on the menu. Here’s to exploring new places and finding the best seats in the house.
WHAT’S NEW, HOT & HAPPENING
WITH FALL COMES A WHOLE NEW CROP OF FAB EATERIES AND OFFERINGS. WE’VE GOT THE SCOOP
189 GREENWICH AVENUE (BEHIND SAKS), SOMETHINGNATURALCT.COM, 203-863-2100
A taste of Nantucket has landed in Greenwich with the opening of this café, which transports people to their favorite summer spot, even in the middle of winter. “I’ve been going to Nantucket since I was a kid, and Something Natural has been on-island for forty years,” says co-owner Molly Hirschel, whose husband, Seth, persuaded the Nantucket owner to partner with them to expand into Greenwich. “People love the sandwiches. It’s a place with great memories.” The décor of the new eatery channels the island: It’s set in a restored 1870 carriage house behind Saks that’s now surrounded by grass, hydrangeas, picnic tables and a boat. The sandwich selection feels old-school in the best way, with classic fillings like tuna salad, smoked turkey and cheese, ham and Swiss, liverwurst and onions as well as lobster salad, an avocado-cheddar chutney and the Sheila’s Favorite with veggies, pickles and Swiss. Every sandwich is fixed on bread that’s baked each morning on the premises: Portuguese, oatmeal, whole wheat, herb, six-grain, rye, pumpernickel and French. “On the island the Portuguese bread is so popular, people buy twelve loaves and bring them back on the ferry and freeze them, so they can have it all winter,” Molly says. Salads and catering are also available here at the Greenwich location. Both places carry a signature line of iced teas and juices and the most addictive giant chocolate chip cookies. If you want yours warm, you can take home a container of the dough to bake yourself. Now’s that’s comfort food.
18 WEST PUTNAM AVENUE, THESPREADSONO.COM
The boys are back in town. The boys, that is, who worked together over the years at Bleu, Barcelona and, in their earliest days, Manero’s. The ones who then opened their own restaurant in SoNo called The Spread and partnered with an award-winning chef whose molé recipe nearly took down Bobby Flay. Chris Rasile, who grew up in Greenwich, Chris Hickey, Shawn Longyear, Andrey Cortes and Chef Carlos Baez have taken over the old Barcelona spot on the Post Road and will be opening The Spread there later this fall.
“We have a Greenwich following. We worked here for so long and loved it, and we can’t wait to come back to where we started,” says Shawn. And they’re bringing the nightlife with them: Expect a DJ spinning every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and monthly events such as sushi nights and flights and bites in the private dining room. This location has a long history as a party place, dating back to the Bart’s Paradise Grill and Portofino days. The new Spread, which we toured while still under construction, will feature a seventy-foot walnut-topped bar, bar seating that overlooks the open kitchen, an eight-seat chef’s table and two dining rooms, the private one available for parties. Custom dining tables are made from antique barn doors and a living wall will greet guests at the entry. In SoNo, The Spread has always focused on plates to share—it was recently named as having the best apps in the state—and the tapas-style dishes will be big at The Spread Greenwich, too. Chef Carlos is constantly changing the menu (about 70 percent of it changes seasonally), but certain crowd-pleasing staples remain like the Brick Chicken, Beef Tongue and Grilled Octopus. For more adventurous eaters, he’ll offer sweet breads, foie gras torchon and dishes such as squid bread with pickled jalapeños, but there’s always a burger on the menu, too.
Cocktails are no after-thought; every juice and mixer is made fresh (even their own cranberry juice), and the guys put a spin on classics such as a Peruvian Sidecar and creations like a Fog Horn with cilantro-infused gin, lime and ginger beer. But there’s nothing pretentious about the food or drinks. “You want a Bud, we’ve got that. A shot and a beer? No problem,” says Andrey. “We’re here to make your night better.”
VILLAGE PIZZA & BEER GARDEN
3 BROAD STREET, PORT CHESTER, VILLAGEBEERGARDEN.COM, 914-939-7500
There’s a new beer garden and soon-to-open pizza place in Port Chester at the historic train station, both from Our House Hospitality group, the restaurateurs who also own Rye House. The tasty German-centric cuisine served outside is a step up from its predecessor here (which was part of Heartland Brewery). Think homemade pretzel nuggets, crunchy house pickles and beer-battered onion rings served in a stack on a metal stand, as well as all kinds of sausages and wursts with classic mustard or jalapeño-mustard sauce for dipping. We especially liked the crispy chicken schnitzel sandwich and herbed spaetzle.
Fireplaces and outdoor heating lamps extend the season at the communal tables in the beer garden, open late March through October. “To have a beer garden and patio built to fit over 200 people is not something easily found in Westchester or anywhere,” says Jeffrey Skiba, who owns Village along with Michael Jennetta. “It’s a great place for spring and summer events and crowds coming before a Capitol show.”
Inside, the year-round menu will center around the pizza oven with all kinds of pies, as well as wings, salads and burgers. The beer list covers European pilsners, hefeweizens, ales and ciders, as well as American craft brews and classic macro beers like Miller High Life; and there’s also three types of punch served by the glass or carafe (Southern Lemonade, Garden Rum and Sala Sangria). On Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. there’s a “pints and pups” happy hour ($5 drinks), where dogs are welcome.
500 STEAMBOAT ROAD, LESCALERESTAURANT.COM, 203-661-4600
Why should kids have all the fun on Halloween? Don’t miss the annual Halloween Masquerade Ball at l’escale. There’s a costume contest and people get seriously decked out to celebrate the occasion. Expect light bites, festive cocktails and live music. Also at l’escale, November is no-corkage fee month, when guests are invited to reach into their wine cellars and bring a favorite bottle to enjoy with their lunch or dinner with no added cost. Check online for details closer to the date.
47 ARCH STREET, THEPERFECTPROVENANCE.COM, 203-900-1131
A new exhibition just opened at Perfect Provenance: In Vino Veritas, which runs through November 20 and celebrates California Wine Country, reflecting the food, lifestyle and luxury of Napa and Sonoma valleys. Chef Arik Bensimon has cooked up a menu to match the new exhibit with new lunch dishes, a lineup of afternoon shared plates, and special dinners that focus on the cuisine of California, which includes Mexican, Asian Fusion, Italian and French influences. Each of the culinary-themed dinners represents the melting pot of cuisines found in wine country. Also, the Perfect Provenance team is working with local wine stores to pair complementary vintages with the dinners.
129 WEST PUTNAM AVENUE, CAVA.COM
This casual Greek-Mediterranean restaurant is opening in the fall opposite Greenwich Stop & Shop, the first Connecticut location for the D.C.-based group (not to be confused with the Cava of New Canaan). It’s a place where you create your own meals. You pick your base of flavorful grains, salads or pitas, then add proteins, toppings, and dips and spreads, which are also sold at Whole Foods. Among the most popular: the Crazy Feta (a cheesy dip made of whipped feta and jalapeños), spicy lamb meatballs, black lentils and the homemade seasonal juices, like basil limeade or watermelon-mint.
MIX CREATIVE KITCHEN
19 WEST ELM STREET, MYMIXKITCHEN.COM, 203-861-1150
Another new option in the fast healthy casual category, Mix occupies a large space on West Elm Street, right off the Avenue, with big picture windows, sidewalk seating and eight dedicated parking places in back. The entirely gluten-free menu of stir-fry bowls with grains and veggies, and salads from around the world (Asian Veggie, Smoky Southwest, Mykonos and Sonoma among the options) also features flatbread pizzas and vegan offerings. Cold cases are lined with an unusually large variety of drinks, every kind of almond milk, kombucha, cold brew and tea you can think of, plus protein and herbal elixirs from Rebbl.
ORDER ONLINE AT AKALAEATERY.COM
When you’re in the mood for something fresh and different, check out the Mediterranean menu at Akala. The eatery is a partnership between Tom Bonomo and Chef Alex Geudelekian, who describes the food as a blend of Lebanese and Armenian dishes touched up with a French style. “I’ve been cooking Armenian my whole life,” says Chef Alex. “My grandma put me in the kitchen as soon as I could walk.” His family recipes combined with his formal training at the French Culinary Institute pay off in the form of outrageously good beef and lamb meatballs, grilled chicken and steak kebabs, and falafel, each delicious on their own but enhanced by the selection of sauces: a traditional tahini, a super-refreshing mint-yogurt dip and muhammara made with red pepper, walnuts and harissa. Pair these meats and other proteins with one of the Middle Eastern salads like the Armenian “Eech” with bulgar wheat, tomatoes, peppers and scallions, and Fattoush with arugula, mint, radish, Persian cucumbers, organic tomatoes, sumac and pieces of pita. “The idea is to have you feel like you’re coming to our kitchen and joining us for lunch,” says Tom. “We want an experience for you as if you sat down at Alex’s grandma’s table.” Currently, you can order lunch or have meals catered through Akala; all of the packaging is eco-conscious—even the serving platters can be put in your compost. The Akala group also plans to open a café in town next year, something casual with seating for about twenty to twenty-five people, plus takeaway dinners.
GREEN & TONIC
7 STRICKLAND ROAD, COS COB, 203-869-1376 85 RAILROAD AVENUE, GREENWICH, GREENANDTONIC.COM, 203-622-1479
Starting this fall, Green & Tonic is launching a thirty-day challenge program to help people who want to shift to a healthier lifestyle and better nutrition. The organic, plant-based eatery recently hired popular Westport vegan chef Jenna Jacobs, who will be working on some of the new prepared foods coming out this fall. Think roasted mushroom and lentil wrap, Thai mango curry with tofu, pumpkin chia pudding and more. The thirty-day challenge program will consist of a month of meal plans and recipes created by the nutrition team, as well as daily inspirational tips. The group is partnering with local gyms as well, to incorporate exercise into the challenge.
116 WASHINGTON STREET, SOUTH NORWALK, MECHANOODLEBAR.COM, 203-295-8718
For those with adventurous taste buds, check out the first-ever Sake Dinner at Mecha in South Norwalk on October 30. For $60 per person, the meal includes seven courses and a specially selected pairing of sake with each. Expect dishes like oolong-tea-cured trout bell, root vegetable dumplings, chicken yakitori and beef tataki. There will be two seatings at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
DIETS BE DAMNED. TAKE A WALK ON THE INDULGENT SIDE WITH THESE OH-SO-WORTH-IT SPLURGES
When you’re out to dinner, it’s no time to deny yourself. We say, live a little. Are you in the mood to splurge on a decadent dessert, a killer cocktail, or both? We compiled this list with some of our favorites and also asked local restaurants for their top-sellers. Here’s what to order when you feel like indulging.
No matter what the season, we can’t get enough of the homemade ice creams and sorbets, especially dulce de leche and hazelnut. The cafe is known for its crepes, and the year-round best seller features ice cream with organic mint from owner Marc Penvenne’s garden—the After Eight crepe is topped with strawberries, mint chip ice cream, mint leaf and fruit coulis. Also try the banana Nutella crepe served with banana-Nutella sorbet.
MILL STREET BAR & TABLE
A newer dessert on the menu here has quickly become a must- order. The mini cheesecake sampler gives guests a taste of three luscious takes: honey cream cheese with plum jam and graham cracker crust; goat cheese with peach compote and almond crust; and blue cheese cheesecake (made with mild Bayley Hazen blue from Jasper Farms) with cherry jam and a walnut crust.
The homemade ice cream sandwiches are an amazing indulgence—chocolate chip cookies still warm from the oven with your choice of ice cream in the middle. Other favorites here are the warm apple tart with vanilla ice cream and warm chocolate cake with coconut ice cream.
Pastry chef Wendy Laurent is known for her heavenly creations such as a Bananas Foster with hot bourbon caramel, and her Dame Blanche brownie sundae with candied nuts. And this fall don’t miss her infamous apple tart with homemade ice cream.
A meal at this fine French dining spot set in a circa-1750 farmhouse in Bedford is made even more special by the classic chocolate soufflé or molten chocolate cake with raspberry sorbet for dessert.
Poached pear and Marcona almond tart, a special for fall, is a family recipe passed down to the chef. The pears are poached in red wine with cinnamon, star anise and cardamom. It’s served with housemade vanilla bean ice cream and creme anglaise.
TOASTS OF THE TOWN
Everyone raves about the B.I.G. (Best in Greenwich) margaritas, a secret recipe of the bartender, Noah. He also mixes a mean Manhattan, made with Carpano Antica, a sweet Italian vermouth, and rich, brandy-soaked cherries.
Try the Maple Bourbon Mash, a mix of maple syrup, orange juice, lemon juice, bourbon and angostura bitters, or the French 57 with Tanqueray gin, prosecco, lime juice, simple syrup and absinthe.
MILL STREET BAR & TABLE
At this seasonal, farm-driven American restaurant, start your meal at the bar up front and sip a Grilled Margarita, which gets its distinctive taste from limes cooked on the grill, blended with organic agave and Chinaco tequila. Also popular here is the Satin Manhattan made with Litchfield Double bourbon and both sweet and dry vermouth.
SIGN OF THE WHALE
The most social drink at this Harbor Point hot spot known for its bar scene is Tidal Waves—a vodka-based cocktail sized for sharing that comes with grown-up popsicles chilling each glass. Also, the red- and white-wine sangrias are so much in demand that they now have them on tap.
This Old Greenwich Italian restaurant may be a wine bar, but the cocktails are on point, too. If you like a kick to your drink, order the Red Hot Chili Pepper margarita with Corzo Silver, lime, Grand Mariner and pinches of chili pepper. The East End Cooler is a refreshing blend of gin, St. Germain, lime and lemon juices and simple syrup.
The signature cocktail at this classic French bistro is the 339 Ave, a mix of Enza Prosecco and St. Germain with fresh grapefruit juice and a dash of crème de cassis.
DEALS & STEALS
WHERE TO EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY…FOR LESS
Join the Party
GREENWICH RESTAURANT WEEK
GREENWICH magazine’s Restaurant Week is packed with great meals and hot deals. The annual event kicks off with an opening night party on Thursday, October 26, at the J House from 6 to 9 p.m. (tickets available online). Restaurants all over town will offer special pricing through Sunday, November 5.
A Midday Quickie
339 Greenwich Avenue, 203-661-6634; versaillesgreenwich.com
For a quick but satisfying meal midday, try the two-course “Cuisine Rapide” menu (Monday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.), which includes your choice of starter and entrée for $19. Coming this fall: For early dinner, there’s a three-course prix-fixe, Monday to Friday 4 to 6 p.m., app, entrée and dessert for $30.
126 N. Main Street, Port Chester, 914-481-8771; ryehousepc.com
A best bet for dinner at the end of a busy weekend. Kids eat free on Sundays after 5 p.m. Also don’t miss wine Wednesdays, when bottles are half price.
409 Greenwich Avenue, 203-862-9200; zhospitalitygroup.com
With the Express Lunch here, you can opt for two courses ($19) or three ($24), Monday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Tuesdays from 3 to 10 p.m., indulge in the extensive wine list representing regions of Italy and California: all wines under $100 are half price and wines $100 or more are 25 percent off.
TERRA & MEDITERRANEO
156 Greenwich Avenue, 203-629-5222 and 366 Greenwich Avenue, 203-629-4747; zhospitalitygroup.com
During happy hour, Monday to Friday 4 to 7 p.m., the wood-fired margherita pizzas are half price, as are the beer and house wines by the glass. Like sister restaurant, Eastend, these two Avenue favorites also celebrate “Wine Appreciation Tuesdays,” when wines under $100 are half price and wines $100 or more are 25 percent off.
A Perfect Pair
130 East Putnam Avenue, 203-622-6833; asianacafe.com
Pair some drinks with your sushi during the daily happy hour, Monday to Friday 4:30 to 6 p.m., when beer is $3 a glass and wine $5.
Raising the Bar
1392 East Putnam Avenue, 203-990-0955; luganowinebar.com
On Sundays all bottles of wine are half price, and during the daily happy hour, (Monday to Friday 4 to 7 p.m.) beer is $3.50, wine $5 per glass and cocktails $6.50.
Easy to Stay Social
121 Towne Street, Stamford, 203-883-8000; harlansocial.com
During the Monday to Friday happy hour, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., apps are $8 (try the stuffed figs or Bavarian pretzel) and tap beers $4. On Sundays and Mondays, bottles of wine are half price.
85 High Ridge Road, Stamford, 203-977-7700; coalhousepizza.com
The delicious chicken wings here are half price on Thursdays; there’s happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday, with half price bottles of wine and half price cocktails.
Spice It Up
487 Glenbrook Road, Stamford, 203-359-8977; tawaonline.com
When you’re in the mood for Indian, check out the weekday lunch buffet, which features a big selection of favorites—from chaats to curries—for $10.95.
148 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich, 203-990-3033; ogsocial.com
On Monday nights, kids eat free—for every adult entrée order, you receive a complimentary kids’ item. Tuesday is taco night, which means discounted tacos, margaritas and Coronas, and on “Wine Down Wednesdays,” wine bottles are discounted all day.
HARBOR POINT HIGHLIGHTS
IF YOU HAVEN’T HIT THIS IMPRESSIVELY REDEVELOPED AREA IN STAMFORD’S SOUTH END, YOU’VE BEEN MISSING OUT BIG TIME
Maybe you’ve had a drink on the rooftop of Sign of the Whale or indulged in some insanely good pizza at Fortina, but what else is happening on t he busy waterfront of our Stamford neighbor? Some of the buildings may look industrial and office-like, but the development that’s now home to 6,000 residents takes the “play” part of its “Live, Work, Play” slogan seriously. In fact, there’s a whole village of options for dining, plus free trolley rides, boat slips, outdoor dining, movie nights and lots more. With all the sidewalk and patio seating, many of the restaurants are dog friendly. Until the weather cools, you can catch a water taxi to go from one side of Stamford Harbor (where Crab Shell and Prime are located) to the other. Here, our guide to what’s going on now.
121 TOWNE STREET, 203-883-8000; HARLANSOCIAL.COM
When many Harbor Point buildings were still in the punch-list stage, American gastropub Harlan Social opened its doors. And five years later, this restaurant has become an anchor for the area. Chef-partner Stephen Lewandowski and Executive Chef Michael Sobelman (who both worked at Tribeca Grill) are still at the helm, as are many of the original waitstaff, which helps to ensure consistently good service. Be sure to try the burrata, Harlan burger with a cheddar ale sauce and the seared salmon with spinach spaetzle. Also, don’t miss the “Reverse Happy Hour” Thursday, Friday and Saturday for drink specials from 9:30 p.m. until close.
145 HARBOR POINT, MEXICUE.COM
Take fresh, bold Mexican food and spin it with some Southern barbecue and you have Mexicue, a food-truck-turned-restaurant from Manhattan that will debut in the ’burbs at Harbor Point this fall. The New York eatery will take the spot overlooking the water that formerly housed Paloma, serving more casual fare than its predecessor. Mexicue’s new location will feature a roof deck as well as the main dining space and a bourbon and tequila bar; craft cocktails are given almost equal play with the food, with all mixers and juices made in-house. Of course, tacos top the menu (rock shrimp and the wild cod are a must-order), and the popular burrito bullets are sized so you can try a few varieties, like the jamburrito, which is like Jambalaya tucked into a tortilla. For a lighter meal, check out the Hudson Valley greens salad with watermelon radish, mango and avocado. “We can’t wait to open our first location outside of the city,” says Thomas Kelly, owner.
21 HARBOR POINT ROAD, 203-890-9686; BAREBURGER.COM
Sure, there are plenty of burger places in our area, but this one checks off the wish list of so many families, with its focus on organic, grass-fed beef and all-natural fare, kids’ ‘cubby’ meals, amazing milkshakes and sundaes, and a wine list for the parents, plus ample outdoor seating. You can build your own burger, and the patty choices go well beyond beef to bison, elk, lamb, duck, turkey and three veggie choices, or pick from an extensive list of chef-created burgers. Craving lighter options? The menu includes eight salads, falafel cups and crispy Brussels sprouts. Though some may prefer to savor their burgers in blissful denial, others will appreciate the fact that the calorie counts are listed (fortunately the font is almost too tiny to read!). Just pretend you don’t notice and splurge on the Bananas Foster or Mexican Chocolate shake; kids can also “mix their flavors” and pick a few of the organic Blue Marble ice creams to have blended into a shake.
120 WASHINGTON BLVD., 203-703-9080; FORTINAPIZZA.COM
Expect the unexpected at this lively Italian eatery that is home to a rooftop “Surf Club” with its own menu. The wood-fired pizzas and veggies, fried meatballs and “straightforward” pasta dishes, plus the fun party scene, keep people coming back, but owners Christian, Rob and John like to roll with last-minute ideas and an element of surprise. Case in point: a recent pig roast was announced only the morning of the event and the first forty people to message an RSVP got to eat for free. To keep up, follow them on Instagram (big news announced recently is the new Brooklyn location and another Fortina to open in Yonkers). Staples remain on the menu, but there are always a few additions with each season and the beverage director will no doubt introduce some new cocktails for fall. This summer’s drink specials in Harbor Point included a Hurricane Shandy and Banana Cognac B*tch. If the mood strikes, games come into play, like the giant Jenga they had going. In true Fortina fashion, there’s no set time for the rooftop to close for the season and no heat lamps. Instead, last fall, they supplied random, oversized fleece jackets for people to wear if they got cold. Chances are, the drinks will keep them warm enough.
BOOTHBAY LOBSTER COMPANY
14 HARBOR POINT ROAD, 203-870-9565; BOOTHBAYLOBSTER.COM
This seafood lover’s mecca has recently rolled out a new menu and morphed from a serve-yourself, counter-style place into a sit-down restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining under Zach Shafran, who was previously the manager at The National. The updated menu brings Connecticut seafood specialties onto the table with warm, buttered lobster rolls as well as the classic Maine lobster-salad style. Fresh lobster that’s delivered daily from Maine stars in an amazing mac ‘n’ cheese, an artichoke dip, a Maine Shore dinner with mussels, potatoes and corn, and comfort food faves such as Lobster Crumble and Lobster Newburg. Purists will also appreciate the chance to have lobster cocktails. The menu extends to include fish ‘n’ chips, grilled arctic char, seared scallops, surf ‘n’ turf and fried chicken for landlubbers. Expect seasonal changes and hearty seafood stews in the cooler months. If you’re wishing it was still summer, order an Endless Summer cocktail, a refreshing blend of blanco tequila, grapefruit and lime, to take you back. Must-try side: the homemade tater tots.
SIGN OF THE WHALE
6 HARBOR POINT ROAD, 203-883-8282; SIGNOFTHEWHALECT.COM
A new chef has just joined the spot that’s known for its nightlife—expect dancing between the tables on the weekends. Chef Walter Estrada, most recently of Napa & Co., is introducing a more well-rounded menu and incorporating tapas-style share plates with a global influence. When the weather’s good, the rooftop bar is always happening; but for a party-like atmosphere indoors, visit on Tuesdays for the Taco & Trivia night.
WALTER’S HOT DOGS
COMMONS PARK; WALTERSHOTDOGS.COM
Fans of the original Walter’s, which has been grilling its legendary hot dogs for nearly a century, are thrilled that the eatery is opening in Harbor Point. “We love that it’s in the park with all the residents around it. There’s a great mix of people here,” says Katharine Woodward, who is the great-granddaughter of the founder, Walter Warrington. The new building in the park resembles the copper-roofed pagoda in Mamaroneck, which is a national historic landmark. The menu will be very similar, too, with the signature hot dogs and famous mustard, curly fries, potato puffs, milkshakes, egg creams, Italian ice floats and funnel cake fries, and also two items that were only available on the truck: Puffy Dogs (which have the potato puffs on the bun) and Bavarian Pretzel Dogs, and also a new ice cream stand featuring a mix of homemade soft serve created by Walter’s.
PONUS YACHT CLUB
41 BATEMAN WAY; 203-323-7157; PONUSYACHTCLUB.COM
If you like cheap eats, cold beer and waterfront views in a throwback atmosphere, the circa-1911 Ponus Yacht Club is worth a visit. Though technically a boat club, you don’t have to be a member to eat and drink at this spot that feels more like a waterside dive bar. When the weather’s nice, the deck picnic tables are the place to be, but you can also order from the pub menu and sit inside. Regulars go for the flashback prices: $6/glass wines, $2 beer specials and fish ‘n’ chips for $9. It’s a fun option for a sunny Sunday afternoon with friends as long as you’re ready for the no-shoes, no-shirt, no-problem ambience.
78 SOUTHFIELD AVENUE, 203-817-0700; RESTAURANTPRIME.COM
When you’re planning a special date night or a meal out with friends, this is one splurge-worthy spot. The upscale waterfront restaurant with dockage, sister to the Huntington location across the Sound, specializes in steaks (as the name implies) and seafood with its popular sushi bar. Be sure to try one of the substantial sushi rolls: the signature Stamford Landing Roll (shrimp tempura, avocado and spicy tuna) and Montauk (spicy tuna and lobster with avocado and yuzu mayo) are among the favorites, as is the new lobster-based Miso Brule roll. On Sundays, the brunch attracts a crowd, in part due to the big following for the live jazz singer Bob Stewart, who started playing at Prime three months ago. Also, check out the Wednesday three-course dinners ($60 with wine pairings and $45 without).
FUN FAMILY OUTING
An afternoon or early evening out in Harbor Point will feel like a big excursion for young kids. Your itinerary: Hop a train at one of the Greenwich stations and head toward Stamford. At the Stamford station, you can catch one of the free trolleys to Harbor Point (they run about once every ten to fifteen minutes). Kids will love the ride and checking out the buildings and boats in the harbor. Get off by the park and head to Walter’s for hot dogs and soft serve, Fortina for pizza or Bareburger for burgers and shakes. Take a walk around the docks by the waterfront and then catch a trolley back to reverse your path.
OUTSIDE-THE-BOX OUTING PINOT’S PALETTE
25 HARBOR POINT ROAD, 203-588-9893, PINOTSPALETTE.COM
At Pinot’s Palette art studio, you can sip on Gifft wines (Kathie-Lee Gifford’s label) or cocktails while you try your hand at painting. Public classes are held Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and on the other days this is a fun spot for private parties and ladies’ nights out. Even those who may classify themselves as artistically challenged will leave with a finished canvas; an artist guides the sessions with step-by-step instruction in painting with acrylics. There are also classes for kids.
JUST BECAUSE SUMMER IS OVER DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN’T ENJOY THE BEST NEW ENGLAND HAS TO OFFER. CRUISE UP THE COAST AND HIT THESE FAVORITE LOCAL SPOTS FOR CLAMS, LOBSTERS, CHOWDERS AND MUCH MORE
The New York Post may have recently called the Connecticut shoreline the next new Hamptons, but natives know that most of our shore towns have a much more laid-back vibe. These old fishing villages are home to some serious seafood: local fish joints, clam shacks, lobster pounds and more, and we scoped out some top spots along the coast. Get your Wet-Naps ready.
548 Boston Post Road, Westbrook, 860-399-722; billsseafood.com
Started as a small take-out clam shack, this restaurant has had the same owner for thirty-six years. Located next to the “singing bridge” in Westbrook (the bridge “hums” with the traffic), Bill’s can accommodate a crowd at its picnic tables with colorful umbrellas overlooking the river. There’s live entertainment six nights
Fresh Maine steamers, Blue Point oysters, hot lobster rolls, lobster salad BLT, whole belly fried clams, clam chowder, Stonington sea scallops, swordfish reuben, prime rib for meat lovers
Jazz on Friday nights; the restaurant was founded around jazz music, so it’s a tradition here.
Try the popular Bermuda rum swizzler or the Frozen Avery made with vodka, raspberry and lemonade, also local brews such as Stony Creek sun juice, Goose Island IPA, Two Roads Lil Heaven IPA and pilsner
Bring some bills—it’s cash only.
Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock
80 Hamilton Street, New London, 860-439-1741; captscottsnl.com
Serving fresh seafood for twenty years, this low-key lobster spot on the Thames River draws lines of people in the summer (it’s close to I-95). With a marina on one side and the train on the other, there’s plenty for kids to watch while they’re waiting for their food. Some locals bring tablecloths, flowers and candles to dress up their picnic tables at dinnertime; stay for the live music: acoustic singers and bands.
Hot lobster rolls, fish ‘n’ chips, clam fritters, sea scallops (grilled or fried), lobster bisque
Captain Scott’s food truck will bring the best of the lobster dock to events and parties.
For the fastest service, come early for lunch or later for dinner; open April through October with a small take-out menu from the Fish Market and counter service Wednesday to Saturday through December.
Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough
117 Pearl Street, Noank, 860-536-7719; abbottslobster.com
Celebrating its seventieth anniversary this year, this iconic lobster pound on the Mystic River is reachable by boat (get a slip next door at Noank Shipyard). By car, you’ll drive through a quaint, hilly village lined with captain’s houses to reach the waterfront spot with picnic tables on the lawn. Thanks to the on-site lobster pound with water pumped in from the ocean, you can order almost any size lobster. Call and say, “We’re coming for Father’s Day and we’d like a five-pounder for everyone to split,” and they’re on it.
Classic warm lobster rolls with butter; choose original with a quarter pound of lobster, OMG (seven ounces) or LOL (lots of lobster—a full pound), lobster dinner, lobster deviled eggs, steamers
The Noank-style chowder, which has a clear broth like a Rhode Island chowder, is lighter than traditional chowder, and you really taste the clams. It’s also gluten-free. For dessert, try the homemade ice cream sandwiches; you pick the cookie type (chocolate chip, M&M or sugar) and the flavor of ice cream you prefer. For fried seafood and fish tacos, go next door to Costello’s Clam Bar, Abbott’s sister restaurant.
Lemonade, iced tea and BYOB
Kids (or adults) who are not crustacean connoisseurs can get a PB&J, hot dog, grilled cheese or mac ‘n’ cheese. The restaurant is seasonal, but stays open weekends through Columbus Day.
147 Main Street, Niantic, 860-739-2113
A classic seafood shack that’s been around since 1963, Dad’s is a diner-like spot with several decks for outdoor eating overlooking Niantic Bay. It’s a no-frills restaurant with kitschy décor like fishing nets hanging from the ceiling; you order at the counter and wait for your number to be called.
Giant hot lobster roll, lobster
fritters, whole belly clams, fried onion rings, the lobster grilled- cheese special. Check the blackboard for fish tacos, shrimp skewers and other daily specials.
Dad’s Ice Cream Factory for milkshakes, flurries (with chocolate candy blended in) and sundaes
Beer and wine
Very kid-friendly with balloons for children and colorful, painted hippo-shaped trash cans with “Please Feed Me” signs.
Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale
1301 Boston Post Road, Madison, 203-245-7289; ljfishtale.com
Included in Coastal Living’s list of best lobster rolls in America, this three-location seafood restaurant first opened in 1979 as a roadside stand with just four tables. Today, the original Madison location seats 600 outside, 100 inside, and the property also houses a separate lobster stand and ice cream shack.
Lobster rolls (the No. 1 seller), fish ‘n’ chips, Fish Tale platter, sautéed scallops over salad
Bring the kids for a ride on The Charity Carousel, an old-fashioned-style wooden merry-go-round with colorful animal characters. Each ride costs $1.50 and all goes to charity. The restaurant has helped many groups, from the Madison Volunteer Fire Department to nonprofits such as Hope After Loss, and has hosted individual families coping with cancer. The restaurant has donated more than $1 million to date.
Fans of soft-serve will love the ice cream shack.
Everything ordered from the lobster stand is gluten-free and you can request gluten-free versions of many of the main menu items.