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Top 10 restaurants on the Conneticut Shoreline
Top Ten Western Shoreline - Top Ten Eastern Shoreline - Branford - Guilford - Madison - Clinton - Westbrook - Essex - Old Saybrook - Old Lyme

We divide The Top 10 Best of the Best Shoreline Restaurants into two Sections: 1) Branford, Guilford, and Madison — the larger towns on the West (New Haven County side) of the Shoreline, Area code, 203; and 2) Westbrook, Clinton, Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, and Essex — the smaller towns that lie on the East (Middlesex County), Area code 860. We’ve picked the Best of The Best on the basis of the place’s success in doing what they’re aiming to do, rather than any hierarchy of style.

Connecticut Shoreline

Eastern Shoreline

Quattro's - Guilford
Lenny & Joe's - Locations in Madison and Westbrook
G-Zen - Branford
9 East Hibachi & Asian Kitchen - Branford
Assaggio "A Taste" - Branford
Lenny's Indian Head - Branford
Carson's on Whitfield - Guilford
Bar Bouchee - Madison
Le Petit Cafe - Branford
Elizabeth's Cafe - Madison

Listed in random order

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Western CT Shoreline

Liv's Oyster Bar - Old Saybrook
Fresh Salt at Saybrook Point Inn - Old Saybrook
Cafe Routier - Westbrook
Lenny & Joe's Fish Tale - Locations in Westbrook & Madison
Alforno - Old Saybrook
The Chestnut Grille at the Bee and Thistle Inn - Old Lyme
Hanami - Clinton
Lobster Landing - Clinton
Westbrook Lobster - Clinton
Copper Beech Inn - Ivoryton (Essex)

Listed in random order

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Branford Restaurants

Donovan’s Reef - A Branford landmark located in the old Yale Lock Company. The menu ranges from standard burgers to dressed-up fish, pasta, and meat dishes. You can sit down and be casual at the bar — or you can sit at a candlelit dinner with a nice bottle of wine. Rock bands and big-screen pro football draw loyal fans on weekends.
1212 Main St., Branford, 203-488-5573

Parthenon Diner - While the Parthenon offers the best of the diner tradition, this place is a thoroughly modern version with lots of pizzazz and portions you never saw in those little old boxcars.
374 E Main St. Branford, 203-481-0333
809 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook, 860-395-5111

Le Petit Café - A little jewel of a place where chef/owner Roy Ip has served up a crowd-pleasing prix fixe menu full of French flavor for some 20 years. Duck dishes are a specialty, with homemade bread and a carefully chosen wine list rounding out every meal. Reservations are a must. Open Wednesday through Sunday, with seatings at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.
225 Montowese St., Branford, 203-483-9791

Lenny's Indian Head - If you’re looking for flavorful seafood bisque, clear-broth clam chowder, and big portions of fresh fish dinners, this is the place. Their Tuesday lobster special is a bargain — and their bar classic. They serve small (8oz.) glasses of frosty draught beers, if you choose. This is smart. Nothing is worse than a warm, flat pint. The restaurant sits on a delightfully breezy saltwater marsh.
205 S. Montowese St., Branford, 203-488-1500

G-Zen - Long recognized as one of Connecticut’s finest vegetarian chefs, Mark Shadle has cranked up his mastery of green foods’ sustainability and married it with a blissful embrace of Buddhism. The result is that the flock of fans who filled his acclaimed It’s Only Natural in Middletown has followed him to his new creation in Branford. A wonderful array of both vegan and vegetarian offerings that will please even the most discerning.
2 E Main St., Branford, 203-208-0443

Assaggio “A Taste” - This is a spiffy white-tablecloth kind of spot, where an intimate dinner can slowly become a romantic interlude as the lights are dimmed, candles lit, and conversations hushed. A creative presentation of contemporary Northern Italian fare in a beautiful dining room makes this a special experience. Their signature dish, the Chilean sea bass with risotto, is a winner.
168 Montowese St., Branford, 203-483-5426

Nellie Green's - Located down behind some roughed up buildings at the marina — and inside and out a very plain Jane, Nellie certainly isn’t the audacious type. But as Exec Chef/Partner Jason notes wistfully, “That’s her charm.” And the truth is, once you’ve found her, she’s hard to resist. We had Rockport Lobster Cavatelli, a lovely dish of homemade pasta swimming in natural sauce with big chunks of hand-pulled lobster, lusty peeled organic tomatoes, crunchy zucchini, basil, and fresh garlic slices. Then, a lobster burger — which was indescribable.
50 Maple St., Branford, 203-483-8400

La Luna - After being closed due to flooding for 15 months, La Luna is now reopened with a tastefully redone interior — and the same great food that patrons have loved for 18 years. Their robust flavored Italian food has made it one of our favorites. They’ve got a big menu here, but we don’t like to be distracted by the tempting plates on the trays passing by. We pretty much stick to OUR favorites: For dinner, the Linguini Vongole, with the fresh littlenecks; the Panecotto (escarole, white beans and peasant bread for an appetizer); for lunch the Italian Flag panini (fresh mozzarella and tomatoes). Their legendary blockbuster Sunday brunch lives up to their claim that it’s the best on the Shoreline. Starting at 10:30 with breakfast offerings, toward noon it moves to carving stations, antipasti and all sorts of desserts. A complimentary mimosa or Bloody Mary comes with it, but we’d suggest that you get it after the breakfast course.
168 N. Main St., Branford, 203-483-9995

Home - Small businesses always take on the personality of the owner. Here, co-owner Jared is genuinely hospitable, with a warm spirit that carries through to the wait staff, kitchen crew, and even the customers — all of whom seem to be smiling. The food is modern American/Italian fusion. The Chef’s Salad, with a delightful homemade balsamic and blood orange dressing, was a hit for us, and the bulging medium-rare burgers with a pile of snappy fries did very well with our sidekicks. Have a Thimble Islands Ale on us!
1114 Main St., Branford, 203-483-5896

GW Carson's Restaurant - They may call themselves a burger bar. But their burgers aren’t just burgers — and burgers aren’t all they serve. Featuring Lamb, Veggie, Mexican, Greek, Salmon, Cajun Turkey, and Jumbo Lump Crab burgers — each with it’s own unique blend of tantalizing toppings, these burgers are a delectable departure from the ordinary. Small plate offerings, like Thai-style Fried Calamari and Avocado Tartare — or their distinctive Burrata and Artichoke or mesclun-based Sweet Citrus salads — are fresh and creative. And so are their dinner entrees (especially the Lobster Spaghetti, a rich toss of lobster meat, shaved Brussel sprouts, applewood smoked bacon, parsley, parmesan cheese, and truffle oil.) Uniquely stylish plating adds unusual flair to uncommon flavor. And the house wines are designed to please. Go as you are. But go. No same old same old here. No siree.
308 East Main St., Branford, 203-208-1469

9 East Hibachi & Asian Kitchen - The first thing — OK, the first five things — you’ll notice upon entering 9 East are the giant Buddha extending a warm welcome...the peaceful waterfall flowing gently behind him...colorful koi, a symbol of love and friendship, swimming happily below…above, in the rich darkness, tiny lights that look for all the world like a sky filled with stars…and a blend of aromas so tantalizing that you can hardly wait to order. But wait, you must, because the menu invites perusal. There’s sushi and sashimi, a host of different fusion rolls, traditional Asian favorites, Teriyaki and Tempura, a whole section of East-Meets-West dinners, and the wildly popular Hibachi, where guests can watch their entrees being cooked right in front of them by chefs as entertaining as they are gifted. Frankly, 9 East is an A-to-Zen dining experience you won’t find elsewhere. Call ahead, though — especially at the weekend. This place has earned a quite a following.
310 East Main St., Branford, 203-315-8111

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Guilford Restaurants

Maritime Grille - New England shoreline fare — grilled, broiled, baked, or seared to your liking. You’re sure to find a favorite. Fresh seafood, prime cuts of steak, crisp green salads, and a raw bar. Grab a seat on the patio during the summer months. After dark, unwind in the cozy lounge while enjoying the music of the area’s finest acoustic musicians.
2548 Boston Post Rd., Guilford, 203-453-0774

Augur's Irish Pub - This is a spirited pub offering the finest in traditional Irish hospitality. The food is prepared with pride, and you can choose from 14 different draft beers, including local micro brews. The reasonably priced menu includes everything from burgers and pizza to Irish specialties, such as shepherd’s pie and corned-beef cabbage rolls. Live music on the weekends.
29 Water St., Guilford, 203-453-4936

Som Siam - Despite its somewhat inconspicuous location off Guilford Green, this place stops you in your tracks with the hard yellow clapboards that cover its mini-saltbox shape. People who know great Thai food have, over the years, beaten a path to this citadel of award-winning Thai cuisine. A loyal following raves about the fresh veggie and seafood-combo stir-fried specials and the signature sticky rice, as well as the “to live for” mango dessert. And it’s got a take-out window!
63R Whitfield St., Guilford, 203-458-0228
45 Mill Rock Rd. East, Old Saybrook, 860-388-5400
1209 Main St., Branford, 203-208-4204

The Place - Their roadside sign promotes it as “An Unusual Restaurant” — and that it is. You’re invited to “Put your rump on a stump” at one of the big, round picnic tables near the huge cinder block grill, and as evening falls, strings of lights suspended on poles illuminate the encroaching darkness. So much for the ambiance. But then their specialty isn’t mood. It’s food. Fresh clams on the half shell with butter and cocktail sauce grilled over an open fire. We like having the smoky roasted lobster rather than the boiled. And don’t miss out on the roasted corn and the steamed shrimp in a foil packet. BYOB and BYOF (fries), but not your credit card.
901 Boston Post Rd., Guilford, 203-453-9276

Quattro's - If you’re a mature adult with taste for exceptional tapas and a good-time bar where you can linger awhile, Quattro’s is your style. On a recent visit, the lobster stuffed artichokes, the pinchos, and the sprightly server couldn’t have been better. If you get a chance, peek through the kitchen door windows where you can catch a glimpse of the four slammin’ chefs, skillets flying, as they turn out their tasty, small plate creations with fury.
14 Water St., Guilford, 203-453-6575

Carson's on Whitfield - Still something of the new kid on the block, Carson’s on Whitfield has already become a welcome addition to the Guilford Green scene. Anyone in search of a something special for lunch won’t be disappointed. (Try the Crispy Jumbo Lump Crab Burger, with a side of Flash-Fried Brussel sprouts or the hearty Grilled Romaine & Hanger Steak Salad.) And neither will the dinner crowd, with such imaginative entrees as Mediterranean Seafood Rice or Teriyaki Glazed Salmon, savory sides and salads, and even some juicy burgers to choose from. You’ll notice that their talent for presentation is extraordinary. And with a good selection of craft cocktails, beers, and fine wines rounding out the menu, you’ll want to stop for a meal — and stay for a while.
2 Water St., Guilford, 203-689-5981

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Madison Restaurants

Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale - Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale is a true Shoreline legend, featuring a big comfort-seafood menu that’s drawn crowds of loyal followers, all totally hooked, for years. The lobster roll is king, but scrod, fried scallops, and the salt potatoes are right up there in the hierarchy. Eat in or take out and picnic. Lenny and Joe’s is fast, fresh, and never flounders.
1301 Boston Post Rd., Madison, 203-245-7289
86 Boston Post Rd., Westbrook, 860-669-0767

501 Long Wharf Dr., New Haven, 203-691-6619

Bar Bouchée - Fashioned after neighborhood the bistros called bouchons in Lyon, France, the emphasis here is on French comfort food and casual conviviality. As they arrive, guests often say at least a few French words or phrases to the maitre’d. A lot of “nice to see you” kisses are passed around. The whole room, once a neighborhood bakery, has been restyled, with many of its fittings coming directly from France. On the patio, ladies slowly sip champagne. The Madison Avenue is the drink special. Our Duck Leg Confit, with just-roasted potato galette on top, sits on diced apple. The chilled Soup du Jour is carrot with a delicate brush stroke of fresh chives, tarragon and cilantro. Our red wine pairs perfectly. This is an absolutely lovely little spot.
8 Scotland Ave., Madison, 203-318-8004

Elizabeth's Cafe - It’s no secret that Elizabeth’s knows a thing or two about gourmet cooking. They know how to make a good drink, too: their specialties — colorful peach and pomegranate martinis and grapefruit Cosmos — get whisked past our table to eager patrons. It’s a little country-style place, but the elegance of the food itself defies expectations. Last week, the Rigatoni a la Vodka with chunks of fresh Maine lobster, the Pan-Seared New Brunswick Salmon with a white wine-cream sauce, and four shared desserts, all handmade by master pastry chef Nina Maynard, left us breathless.
885 Boston Post Rd., Madison, 203-245-0250

Cafe Allegre - Café Allegre is like a good friend you can’t wait to see. And, in this case at least, the friendship just gets better — enduring not only the taste of time, but outdoing itself with every passing year. A very friendly couple recently revealed that his wife had the Lumache Mediterrano (escargot and wild mushrooms over pasta) and really loved it, while he had the Salmon Sofia (salmon and lobster pieces in a lobster sauce with vegetables) and really enjoyed the fish and sauce. Be sure to give Chef Silvio a hug.
725 Post Rd., Madison, 203-245-7773

Zhang’s - Zhang’s has a remarkable following, making it one of the hottest restaurants in the Madison and Guilford area — especially on the weekends. Featuring beautifully prepared Chinese dishes, like the Jumbo Shrimp with a white Marnier sauce and Crispy Orange Beef — and Japanese specialties like Donburi, Udon and sushi, you won’t ever be disappointed. Or try a combination of Chinese and Japanese favorites, and enjoy the best of both worlds.
44 Boston Post Rd., Madison, 203-245-3300
455 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook, 860-388-3999

Friends & Company - Friends, as its name suggests, is a family’s favorite restaurant that turns out comfort food by the boatload — homemade soups to homemade breads, excellent salads and dressings, pasta, and sandwiches, as well as full entrées, salmon, chicken, and all kinds of fresh veggies.
11 Boston Post Rd., Madison, 203-245-0462

Old Schoolhouse Deli - The Old Schoolhouse Deli serves up gourmet sandwiches — or what you’re craving. Grilled specials, wraps, salads, and hot lunch specials. Roast beef, cooked daily, or Boar’s Head on fresh-daily NY bread tingle your taste buds and quiet your restless stomach. On Tuesday, we get the Veggie Supreme Wrap and add avocado. Or, on Wednesday, we get the hefty Roast Beef Hero, no Swiss. The prices and the staff are both pleasant.
268 Boston Post Rd., Madison, 203-245-DELI (3354)

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Clinton Restaurants

Lobster Landing - Call it what you want: a seafood shack, a lobster shack, or a clam shack. This is no cheap imitation. The tattered little hundred-year-old building that sits on a dock in Clinton harbor is an original. It also features the quintessential lobster roll. Indeed, the “best in Connecticut,” most say. Racing around the dock from table to table, long-gray-bearded bandana-headed owner Enea Bacci (“just” Bacci to most) enthusiastically delivers the pride of the place to eager patrons, while the rest of the menu, including tasty sausage/pepper/onion sandwiches, hot dogs, sodas, chips, and ice creams — longs for attention.
152 Commerce St., Clinton, 860-669-2005

Westbrook Lobster - First of all, be alert to the fact that Westbrook Lobster is NOT in Westbrook. It’s in Clinton. But its hungry followers don’t seem to care. They just love the chowder (NE or RI) and all the lovely seafood platters, lobsters, and very fresh fish dishes that make this unpretentious gathering place so popular. Bar specials. Small plate menu. You know, it’s really refreshing to find an affordable spot like this with dependably fresh fish. Join the folks who know. Oh, and they’re also located in Wallingford.
346 East Main St., Clinton, 860-664-9464
300 Church St., Wallingford, 203-265-5071

Chow Food and Beverage Co. - What do you get when you combine the famous flavors of the founder’s barbecue with traditional American cuisine? A neo-rustic American cuisine that’s a culinary delight for everyone. Farmhouse-chic accents the eclectic dining room, making this a great place to meet — while the menu, ranging from innovative gourmet pizza to a rack of house-smoked ribs with homemade pineapple chipotle or raspberry-honey barbecue sauce, makes it a really great place to eat.
36 Killingworth Tpke., Clinton, 860-669-6200

Taste of China - Without a doubt, this is the finest genuine Chinese cuisine you’ll find on the shoreline. Our dinner companion, a regular here, insists we stay away from the ordinary. Cold Sliced Conch and Bang Bang Chicken are among her favorite appetizers, and her friends regularly rave about the dumplings. “And wouldn’t you know!” she sings, “They usually have at least five fish choices in addition to beef, pork, chicken and shellfish specials!” Chicken Fingers, Clams with a Black Bean Sauce, Squirrel Fish, and Salt and Pepper Scallops were well worth the adventure.
233 East Main St., Clinton, 860-664-4454
954 Chapel St., New Haven, 203-745-5872

Hanami Japanese Sushi & Hibachi Steak House - This is the star of the Shoreline when it comes to sushi. Regulars often order without even looking at the menu, either creating their own dish or heeding a tip from the one of the savvy servers. They’re confident that they’ll get what they have come to expect — fresh, perfectly made, and beautifully plated. Today, we especially liked the Hanami Special Roll. Not surprisingly, at 2:45 on this dreary Tuesday afternoon in Clinton, the place is still humming.
114 E. Main St., Clinton, 860-664-9268

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Westbrook Restaurants

Bill’s Seafood - Sit out on the deck with friends for a pitcher of beer or Pepsi, some clams on the half shell, a cup of lobster bisque, and a fried clam platter. The prices are fair and the food is good, but that’s really not the point. It’s the soft hum of cars driving over the “singing” bridge next to it, the sight of the boats that whisper by, and the sounds of the Dixieland music that make Bill’s a must for families and friends.
548 Boston Post Rd., Westbrook, 860-399-7224

Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale - Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale is a true Shoreline legend featuring a big comfort-seafood menu that’s drawn crowds of loyal followers, all totally hooked, for years. The lobster roll is king, but scrod, fried scallops, and the salt potatoes are right up there in the hierarchy. Eat in or take out and picnic. Lenny and Joe’s is fast, fresh, and never flounders.
86 Boston Post Rd., Westbrook, 860-669-0767
1301 Boston Post Rd., Madison, 860-245-7289
501 Long Wharf Dr., New Haven, 203-691-6619

Edd’s Place - Edd’s is a delightfully zany “seafood shack” with picnic tables that rest on sections of connected planking. It has its indoor dining in the “Gazebo,” all ship-shape and retrofitted with checkered oilcloth-covered tables. It’s got a view of the Menunketesuck River salt marsh, a playground, excellent lobster rolls, and the best fries we’ve had in ages. The fearlessly far-ranging menu ranges from foot-long dogs and Panini to roast leg of lamb and all kinds of seafood. And how about this: bring in your own fish and they’ll cook it for you.
478 Boston Post Rd., Westbrook, 860-399-9498

Café Routier - It’s Thursday night and the dining room and Mood Lounge are full. There are only two seats left at the bar — a welcome sight because we’re road weary. The affable young bartender gives the Routier special, the Black Rita, a powerful shaking while hustling to keep up with the wine and drink orders coming from all directions. The appetizers and entrées from the regularly changing dinner menu are primarily French, but a zesty global mix gives them the je ne sais quoi that may be exactly what you’re looking for. Bon appetit.
1353 Boston Post Rd., Westbrook, 860-399-8700

Turtle Café - They may describe it as diner-like or a hole-in-the-wall, but I’m happy to stick my neck out and side with their throngs of regulars, who rave about breakfasts at the Turtle. Here are a few dishes that make it so popular: the white egg omelet with lobster, asparagus and goat cheese; the nutella crepe; the lobster crepe; the salmon crepe; and all of the frittatas. Get there early or expect a wait.
4 Westbrook Pl., Westbrook, 860-399-1799

Braise & Brew Tavern - Fresh on the Shoreline scene since their April 19th opening, Braise & Brew is a welcome addition. Their excellent entrees range from braised meat dishes like Port Braised Lamb Shank and Short Ribs & Braised Mushrooms to seafood offerings such as Lobster Mac & Cheese or Parmesan Encrusted Cod. Apps include Buffalo Chicken Spring Rolls and Calamari & Pork Belly, while their sandwiches and salads offer diners some lighter options. Braise & Brew focuses on Craft Beers, offering 22 Draft Beers and over 40 bottled beers. The tastefully redone interior offers restaurant goers a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere.
1835 Boston Post Rd., Westbrook, 860-399-8888

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Essex Restaurants

Copper Beech Inn - Once the haunt of Connecticut’s power brokers, the Copper Beech has undergone numerous transitions over the years. Recently reopened under new ownership, with a new look and a new menu created by master chef Gaspar Stantin, guests savor both the beautiful Oak Room tavern and superb entrees, such as pork belly topped with a cold poached egg hidden under a thatch of greens, local cod over a firm risotto mixed with fava beans and garden carrots, or maybe seared diver scallops swimming in a lush natural tomato broth spiced sotto voce. A lemon-infused strawberry shortcake with a dollop of home-crafted whipped cream is always good for dessert.
46 Main St., Ivoryton, 860-767-0330

The Griswold Inn - “The Gris” is one of only a few New England restaurants of the old colonial genre that has been able to transcend the passing of time and stay both relevant — and in business— decades after most have shut their doors and to become museums (or Chart Houses). The dimly lit tavern with good old-time music and the period dining room bring you back to the days of river captains and deep-water schooners. The Hunt Breakfast is legendary.
36 Main St., Essex, 860-767-1776

Gelston House- Come by land, river, or sea: the stately Victorian Gelston House, set next to the Goodspeed Opera House and above the river in East Haddam village, is a must visit. The restaurant menus and all its dining spaces have been revived and polished up, bringing back the elegance and joie de vivre of its glory days, while adding a casual dining option outside. Why not postpone your stifling veggie-packed, gluten-free regime and enjoy the fabulous Filet Mignon or Prime Rib here tonight? Or the wonderful Mothers’ Day feast. This is a lovely spot!
8 Main St., East Haddam, 860-873-1441

Black Seal - This popular place looks a little like an old ship that’s battled through rough seas, but without fail it serves up jolly good chowder, fresh fish, salads and sandwiches with the steady hand you’d expect from an experienced captain — and an equally steady flow of jolly good cheer from a bar that’s home port for boaters and their mates.
15 Main St., Essex, 860-767-0233

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Old Saybrook Restaurants

Alforno - The lovely New Haven-style thin-crust roasted-veggie pizza — and the house special Pan-Roasted Pacific Flounder Livornese, prepared with fresh tomato, green and black olives, fresh sliced garlic cloves, sweet onion slivers, and capers over fresh spinach and served with four fat chunks of just-made crusty Pane Toscano — are why this well-loved brick-oven pizzeria that opened more than twenty years ago has become an obviously content and comfortably welcoming Trattoria, with nothing lost in the translation.
1654 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook 860-399-4166

Liv’s Oyster Bar - Creative specials and an extensive variety of raw bar oysters and clams served up in this restored former movie house are some of the reasons why we love Liv’s. But more than that, it’s the good-natured staff that makes us happy as a clam. For example, our server told a story of how, not long ago, a 40ish couple loved the Sashimi Yellow Fin Tuna Pizza appetizer so much that they decided to buy it for everybody at the bar. Anyone who didn’t love it could send it back. No one did. Another time I asked our server if the chef could make me a bowl of clam broth, though it wasn’t on the menu. She soon returned with a steaming bowl of it — and a bunch of littlenecks. Next she recommended the James Bond Martini, which, she assured me, I could drink without “a license to kill.”
166 Main St., Old Saybrook, 860-395-5577

Nancy's Rosemary & Sage - Here’s an original. Unexpected takes on contemporary American cuisine prepared with a special touch, a full bar, and an extensive selection of reasonably priced wines — along with Nancy and her attentive staff — make every visit a memorable one.
1080 Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook, 860-388-1166

Fresh Salt at the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa - A top contender for “where to be seen” along the coast, offering stunning water views, seasonal outdoor dining, an innovative approach to locally sourced American cuisine, the day’s fresh catch, and a raw bar.
2 Bridge St., Old Saybrook, 800-243-0212

Otter Cove Restaurant - If I had to describe Otter Cove, I’d say that for those seeking to impress, it’s elegantly casual. For those hoping to relax, it’s casually elegant. And for those just in search of a good meal at a good price, it’s ideal. From the beautifully weathered clapboards and crisp white trim of the restaurant’s exterior to the spacious fountained terrace, Otter Cover is charming, indeed. Inside, it’s cozy and warm, with a menu that features nibblies like Asian nachos with Mongolian barbecue ribs and the Firecracker Calamari, along with all of the seafood and landlubber dishes you’ve been hankering for, including clams, scallops, shrimp, and lobster — and yes, steak. Factor in a variety of drinks (including beer on tap), friendly service, reasonable pricing, and good parking and this little place is otterly perfect.
99 Essex Rd., Old Saybrook, 860-388-4836

Penny Lane Pub - Loving good food — and the Beatles, naturally I am smitten with the Penny Lane Pub. But the truth is, this unpretentious yet tasteful little place, which not only looks uniquely British inside and out but feels like the neighborhood pubs beloved by the English since forever, would get my attention even if I weren’t a Fab Four fan, and here’s why. While starched white tablecloths are a classy touch, no matter how humble a pub’s fare, the fare at Penny Lane Pub is anything humble. Savories like Prince Edward Island Mussels and Bond Street Onion Rings with Chipotle set the stage for traditional lunches like Angus Burgers, Shepherd’s Pie, Fish & Chips, and their Liverpool Turkey Pub Club — plus some rather clever contenders, like Cruella’s Crab Cake. For dinner, expect great seafood, beef, and chicken entrees, like Almond Citrus Salmon, Newcastle Free Range Roasted Chicken, and Montreal Hanger Steak. Sides and salads are numerous and satisfying. And their specialty wines and world-class beers round things out nicely. A brilliant little spot.
150 Main St., Old Saybrook, 860-388-9646

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Old Lyme Restaurants

The Chestnut Grille at the Bee & Thistle Inn - This gem welcomes guests with a classic bar room and a variety of quiet, tasteful dining spaces overlooking lush gardens and the river beyond. The cuisine will impress even the most fastidious of critics, as Chef Kristofer Rowe’s award-winning menu blends fresh and local ingredients into such offerings as Coriander Spiced Monkfish with grilled fennel and asparagus, Slow-Roasted Duck Breast, New England Clam Cakes, and numerous specials that rotate regularly with the changing of seasons. They’ve got an extensive wine list and creative cocktails too.
100 Lyme St., Old Lyme, 860-434-1667

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