Hit some known and frequently discussed CT Chow joints, so thought I'd give a New Yorker's view.
Friday night my wife and I set off on an overnight from Brooklyn to Ellington, CT. Early Saturday morning we were due at my daughter's all girl, almost all horseback riding camp for their closing "show" and to take her home. For some reason on the previous ride up I neglected to do any Chow-search so I wasn't going to miss the opportunity for two meals this time.
On the way up we stopped at the seemingly famous and conveniently located Ted's Hamburgers just off I691 in Meriden. All you CT/NE 'hounds know the deal of course - tiny joint w/ big grey greasy lumps of cheap salty ground beef. 3 booths, 3 or 4 stools at the counter, a mild mannered gent working potatoes becoming and already being (home) fries and a couple of well mannered teens trading well mannered teen jibes and bonmots dealing with soda and buns. Two please, with everything.
I attacked the crusty toasted bun barely controlling a big steamed glop of something like mild commercial Provolone (?), onions, pickle, mayo, etc etc and that sick looking piece of ground up former cow floppin' over the sides. It took work and barely a minute to inhale and wipe my hands. My wife was still working on hers by the time I was contemplating another, this time w/double meat. We had a plate of their fresh and good cubed fries sans cheese while I waited on my double. They seemed surprised I didn't double the cheese too. This time went with nothing but beautifully oily sauteed onions, better to enjoy the salt laden and super steamy juiciness of the burger mass. Killer belly bombs! Fresh, real, homey and so steam ridden but so not White Castle. No regrets the next morning either! And I got a swell T-shirt, tho regretably not the basic one the cook (owner?) was wearing. No doubt Ted's will be a regular stop on our trips to camp next summer.
Saturday morning at camp we said our hellos, goodbyes, met the horses, enjoyed the competition; then packed up and set out South on I91 down to Rt9 for Johnny Ad's in Old Saybrook. The ex-wife and her husband and baby were game too and we hightailed it a bit out of our way further west in search of the elusive (in NY) Fried Belly Clams - or as "you people" call them, Fried Clams! Only a few minutes wasted in wrong turns, and amazingly normal traffic, got us to the Johnny Ad's shack peopled by another group of shockingly pleasant summer work teens. Wife and stable-smelly kid went running for the 'loo; Ex, her spouse and toddler avoided the tight order area that stacked up behind me and headeded towards pleasant parking lot view picnic tables; I was left to quickly improvise an order pleasing to all: 2 platters of clams at around $14/ea. (missed seeing where I could get a double Side Order sans passable fries and slaw for I think around $23); a combo platter w/clams, flounder, shrimp, scallops, calamari and a little cup of Lobster Salad for maybe $16; 3 bowls of RI chowder; a hot dog for the 2.5yr old; and birch beer. The soda was great!!! Not too sweet or fake - I wonder how "real" it was. I didnt' taste the dog, but it and the bun were cut in half for kiddie convenience. The chowder was full of potatoes and sort of full of chopped clams w/pretty good oceanic saltiness. The two women - a Brooklyn native (current wife, dislikes NE style) and an Indianapolis native (former wife, baby momma, very much dislikes Manhattan style) - were quite pleased with the taste and texture, and very much enjoyed the unexpected since neither had ever heard of RI style chowder. All the seafood was fine - the breading was crispy, not too salty on it's own, rarely too clumpy and thick, and even as it cooled and we reached plate bottoms the greasiness never overtook the experience. I had one scallop and enjoyed a fully flavored and not oversized sea scallop just on the verge of rubber. Everything else seemed fine to the rest of the adults and my daughter (the tentacle eater). However, the clams were simply great, if not completely astounding - the bellys were rich, smooth and ungrainy; the siphons were pleasantly chewy with a little snap but not rubbery. If I have any complaint, perhaps they weren't "oceanic" enough for me - but then again, these are not three dollar oysters. Everyone enjoyed spoonfuls of the tiny lobster salad side and I was happy to experience actual lobster taste beside the mayo. Everything done and done and done (including the fries) I realized Johnny Ad's did in fact have actual Lobster Rolls. I didn't see them on my initial guerilla attack and was quite surprised - only lobster SALAD? But the menu boards were lengthy. So, as the women slacked off, I hopped up and got a true meat and butter only lobster roll to split with the Ex's "current". And some more calamari for my 12 year old who succored her sadness in leaving camp, horses, friends. Anyway, the roll was awesome!!! Super butter laden so the Paris native "current" (knew to the fried seafood thing in general too) felt right at home, plenty of fairly tender steamed lobster meat reward w/o doing the work and even a toasted squared off bun that provides a good handle. However, as a Long Island native, I'm now prepped for a real lobster meal - it could be as long as a year since my last, and shells never got in the way of my good time. I'm now slaked for truly tender and varied textures of giant steamed bug.
Both cars and families rolled home down 95 more than sated and a bit sun burnt. Happy blood attented to topped out tummies and created some driving averse fatigue. I was thankful to have the break of stop and go traffic on the Whitestone Bridge. And we didn't eat until Sunday afternoon. Thank You, Connecticut and Connectict Chowhounds. Am I right about these places or could they have been better in the past (or have better competitors)?
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