First: thanks to everyone who welcomed and prepared me for the move from LA to New Haven. Please forgive my long silence; I've been chewing the cud. And incidentally, blast the computer. I've attempted and lost this message several times (crossing my fingers).
I've managed to hit most of your recommendations at this point and will note brief impressions as well as a few of my own suggesions and look forward to continuing to contribute & learn.
Agreed: Claire's is dreadful. Health food circa 1975: whole wheat, honey, no salt and cheese on everything (Moosewood anyone?). Willoughby's has very good coffee but what's with pricing cafe au lait and a latte at the same rate ($2.92 w/tax)? I concur with Starbucks's logic (coffee is cheaper and less labor-intensive than espresso). Mamoun's was the worst meal of my life however. Paper and plastic everything, cold commercial pita, baba ganoush that was mainly tahini (I could detect no eggplant). They got my order wrong but it took so long I didn't bother to re-order. They haven't a lemon on the premises despite their heavy promotion of a (stale, revolting) iced-tea (served in a wax-coated plastic cup?). How can this be the godsend my advisers have indicated (I'm grateful for your impressions but this was a disaster).
Cafe Adulis has great fish specials, but they're absurdly overpriced. I had the chilean sea bass one night (sorry) followed the next by the foie gras burger at DB and paid more in NH. Sometimes it's worth it given the comparative options in NH and NY. Their standard Eritrean food-- I can pass.
Absurdly enough, I've enjoyed burgers and fish at Hot Tomatoes, which is a twenty-something pick-up joint decor, menu and attitude circa mid-eighties-- but has regular offerings which are hard enough to find around here. (Bring your own mustard for burgers though; they serve a 'homemade' version on request only, and it's essentially beige mayonnaise).
I'm afraid my message will disappear as it has before so I'm going to send it now with part two to follow.