New London Fall Food Stroll- The Breakdown
Three hours + Seven friends + 40 places to eat = Stuffed Bellies & Satisfied people
If you are local and you didn’t make it out last night you really missed out. What a great opportunity to check out new restaurants, and bits of their menu without a financial commitment, in this economy, let’s face it meals out are rare! Some places I will most definitely go back to, and others I may not. The food stroll is put on twice a year, and I was told I’d never make it to all of the tasty locations, and that I’d run out of room in my belly to put it all. I really like to try new things, but boy were we all full and definitely didn’t make it everywhere (even the guys!) Hence why even though I’m reviewing the food stroll on a whole, I will in no way talk about all 40 places we could have eaten at. I’m only mentioning places I will return, even if I wasn’t that impressed with the sample dish.
To start, I thought it was great that New London Main Street offered a discount to a group of six or more. They also had a military price (same as the group rate). Luckily my friends like to eat so we took advantage of the group rate at $20 dollars a button (Instead of $30, day of). The button got us entry to all of the places participating and was well worth the 20 bucks! Not only were the streets bustling with the food strollers, there were musicians scattered around to add some fun ambiance. Nothing like a food festival to get people out and about. We may have even been seen dancing around as we went from place to place.
I’ll start off by saying the food stops are listed in the order we tried them, not the order of favorite dishes!
We started with Jasmine Thai Restaurant and Sushi Bar. We had no idea what to expect and were amazed to walk into a veritable buffet with mini egg rolls, (veggie) sushi, Pad Thai, green chicken curry, rice, and salad. (To save room I skipped salad & fruit.) Thoughts across the board? Amazing. This will definitely be a place to come back to. There wasn’t a thing I tried I didn’t like. The mini egg rolls were crispy, the Pad Thai yummy, and the green curry had a good amount of spice! Definitely where we will have to take Bryan’s brother (who studied in Thailand) when he comes to visit.
Bean & Leaf as far as I knew was a coffee shop that recently changed locations. They must do food as well because we had the choice of a Ham and Lentil or Spicy Veggie Soup. Both were good, but nothing spectacular. Definitely a great vibe to hang out with some coffee and friends. I’m sure we will be back to try some fancy coffees and teas.
Gaspar’s New American Cuisine offered an amazing ravioli. I believe it was homemade, like most of the things they offer. Most definitely will be back. It has an old world feel to it, reworked in a funky new way. Definitely new American and we loved it though. How can you not like pasta that is technically well done? The dough wasn’t heavy, the filling was balanced. Good eats are most certainly found there, just like they claim on the website. This is also on our must return list!
Dev’s on Bank Street served Happy Panda Noodles and won first place! The presentation was great for a food stroll, they had the cup of fine noodles, bean sprouts, scallions, and small bits of beef in a cup and that was ladled over with a light beef broth ‘to order’. It was warm and light and deliciously spiced. We were greeted by Bunny, one of the two owners. Dev’s serves a Mediterrasian tapas menu. Yes. That’s correct. mediterr- and -asian. The very idea is intriguing and we loved it. I can’t wait to go back and look forward to ordering dishes from two very different ends of the earth. Review? Great. We even came back to Dev’s to end the night. Great atmosphere and yummy food means we will be coming back all the more.
Sweeties Bakery & Café serves breakfast and lunch. I’m regularly here grabbing lunch for my boss or a sweet treat, since I work half a block a way, so I knew they had great food and desserts. They came up with a brilliant menu, visitors could choose a mini apple or pumpkin pie, and either butternut squash or tomato soup. The pies were delicious, and while I chose the spicy tomato soup, it was a bit to salty for my taste. The butternut squash was nice and creamy though. Off menu for last night, but I know that somethings they make well are quiche, and mac and cheese. They also make homemade ice cream, pickles, dressings and more.
Mambo Bar & Restaurant definitely has a bar vibe from the exterior. Probably why I’ve just never gone in. I was surprised though when we went in that there were kids eating with their parents. They had Jamaican Rice and Shrimp. It definitely had island flavors and with the shrimp was mostly rice in a small amount of a clear broth. It was good though, a pleasant surprise on Bank street. The view off of their deck of the river at night was fabulous. The menu may be just enough to tempt me in and eat on the back deck.
Chaplin’s Restaurant is the one restaurant Bryan and I have actually tried. Rumor has it the chef has auditioned for, or was asked to be on the Food Network show Chopped. Whether this is true or not, I can’t say. One thing I do know is their food is great. I ordered the bouillabaisse when we went there for dinner a couple months ago and Bryan got the special. Both loved it. Last night the choices were Shepherd’s Pie or Seafood Bisque. If you’ve ever read this blog before you can probably guess I went for the seafood. The soup was great, the large pieces of seafood were plentiful even in the tiny serving.
Of course we had to stop by Studio 33 Art and Frame Gallery, the place I work part time. Funny story: Studio 33 was supposed to be hosting Mariah’s Chow Chow Relish. For reasons unknown to us at work, they backed out the day of the stroll three hours before they were to be setting up. For whatever reason Yummy Hummy came to mind and we called them to see if they would be available or interested in being a part of the Food Stroll with us. They were glad to, and we got to sample the roasted garlic, and pretty beet hummus. Both were delicious and Sara’s Mojito Green Tea Punch (non-alcoholic) was nice and refreshing after all those hot soups!
Out next stop was Hot Rod Café . The boys were glad to be getting something other than soup, however I was disappointed not to eat wings, what they are most known for, and for good reason! Instead we tried their new appetizer, a skewered chicken with some garlic seasoning, maybe with a hint of lemon. I didn’t particularly care for it, though there wasn’t anything wrong with it.
We started our dessert’s for the evening with a stop by Daniel’s Dairy Downtown. Here we started with a miniature cone of soft serve vanilla ice cream, a sample of whatever flavor fudge we wanted, and a mini scoop of whatever flavor of old fashioned scoop-able ice cream we desired! Daniel’s Dairy makes all of it in house. Definitely a place to try to get some delicious fudge, or get the after dinner bite!
Captain’s Pizza is way down Bank street, almost to State Street. Their set-up was way up on their roof-top deck that overlooked the whale-tail. They had a great Irish band, and the food was good too. I was impressed at the quality of New England Clam Chowder we were getting from a pizza joint, and the pizza was great as well. The best part was the surprising view, and great music! Captain’s is a great place to go for a slice of pizza with some friends.
Just around the corner down on State St. is the Stone Fleet Tavern. The tavern is the closest restaurant to both the train station that services NYC, and the Ferries that take patrons to Block and Fisher’s island, so they tend to cater to a fancier clientele. That being said we had east coast quahog stuffies there. The stuffing with herbs had a good bit of clams chopped back up and mounded in. Not like some stuffed clams that seem to be all filler. The stuffing had a great crispy outside, but was moist inside.
We hit Pinc! hosting You Take The Cake next. The cinnamon apple cupcakes were good, the flavor was yummy. It really did seem as though apples were really incorporated into the batter, thankfully without chunks though! I thought they were perhaps a tad on the sweet side, but not overly, who doesn’t like a sweet dessert?
I’m glad I now know that there is good Indian food in New London. Northern Indian Restaurant served a Chicken Curry with Peanuts. While peanuts are not something I typically choose in foods I thought the crunch added a nice texture, and the essence of peanut was only just there, hinted at, without being too peanuty. I’ll definitely go back for some of my tried and true Indian favorites. It was a real reminder of my time in London UK!
A private, member’s only place, the Thames Club was offering a grilled cheese crouton, and tomato soup. This was by far the best soup of the night, and the grilled cheese, was fantastic. To bad it’s a private club, I’d like some more of that!
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. Can you even imagine how great that would taste? Little Sister’s Bake Shop made these amazingly spiced pumkin whoopie cakes, and the cream in the middle was delectable. Best dessert of the night. A few of the guys who worked at EB were wondering if their food truck would ever swing by the office. Who knows, maybe they will. Their food is fabulous.
Eventually we got to 2 Wives Brick Oven Pizza, by this point we were going to pop anyways, but we tried a slice of their Thanksgiving pizza. It had turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. It sure didn’t work for me. Without the tomato sauce and cheese, maybe with gravy it would have worked, but those flavor profiles just didn’t match. It was a great try though and it really was creative. Unfortunately, nobody in our group really cared for it. They have a great little restaurant and make lots of other yummy pizza so I’m sure we will be back, just not for the thanksgiving pizza!
The last place that was truly memorable was the Garde Arts Center hosting The Cake Lady. They must have had over 25 flavors of cupcakes. It was like a smorgasbord. (Except we only ate one a piece) I chose a cinnamon iced chocolate cupcake (stellar) and Bry had an oreo with mint frosting. Truly a great way to finish off the night.
In one food stroll, and three hours our palates were paraded around the world. There was definitely a theme in soups, as almost every other place offered a soup (if they weren’t offering dessert). It was well worth the 20 bucks in terms of food consumption, and it was a great way to scope out the area’s restaurants and see what the various establishments are like! Would I do it again? In a heart beat. Where am I going to eat first? Dev’s, or Gaspar’s, or Chaplin’s for dinner. Little Sister’s or Sweetie’s from some treats.
Will you sign up in the spring? Which dish sounded best to you? Did you actually survive my nearly photo-less 2000+ word blog entry? I hope so.