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Suggestions/Recos for New Haven, CT dining


bcsuka
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My wife and I will be celebrating our 5th anniversary in a few weeks and I will be taking her to a show in New Haven, and wanted to include a nice dinner beforehand.

I've pretty much narrowed my choices down to Union League or Ibiza -- both restaurants we've never been to. Both would seem to be stellar choices based on the menus I can see online, but I'm hoping to get some more in-depth opinions from my fellow e-Gulleters.

Any and all thoughts are welcome! Thanks in advance!

-Brad

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I've been to Ibiza a few times and cannot fault it and I like its atmosphere. On the expensive side but I suppose you know that.

Union League: I say, forget it. I don't think it is romantic or creative and kinda stilted/stuffy and dare I say pretentious place? But I guess it's where you're coming from.

I have always enjoyed the romantic, outdoor setting at the Rusty Scupper and the food is good to great (at half the price).

The Stillwater Bistro can also be very good, and also has the option of being outside by the river. I like the food. Their downfall is their bread. I've got to tell them about the bread! No problem if you don't like bread, but it makes me wonder what they are thinking, and how good their palates are, when they serve stuff that is like cotton candy!

I know you mentioned you wanted a place you hadn't been to so I won't go on.

Happy anniversary!

Banished from Chowhound; I like it just fine on eGullet!

If you`re not big enough to lose, you`re not big enough to win! Try this jalapeno, son. It ain't hot...

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  • 2 months later...

Just to follow-up on the thread, we ended up going to Union League Cafe as their online menu seemed more appealing to my wife. We had an excellent time, enjoyed everything from the atmosphere, to the service, to, of course, the food.

We each started with a bowl of soup -- creamy lobster bisque with copius hunks of fresh lobster for my wife and a creamy artichoke soup with maplewood bacon for me. Both were steaming hot and delicious, although the bacon's extremely strong flavor was a bit overpowering in mine.

We then split a Dungeness Crab salad appetizer, served with a cucumber dressing and micro greens. Simple, light, elegant and delicious. Heaps of crab perfectly paired with refreshing cucumber.

For entrees, my wife had a seared halibut and I had a roast pheasant with foie gras sauce (I didn't write down the specifics of each dish, so I apologize for the lack of details). Both entrees were good, though not spectacular.

We split a dessert of a chestnut mousse-filled puff pastry which was excellent. Our waiter had a great sense of humour and was very accomodating to any special requests. By 7:00, the entire room was packed.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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  • 2 weeks later...

Louis Lunch is more about the history and the kind of backwards charm that it exudes. Although it is argued, it is one of the oldest establishments that claims to have invented the hamburger. For someone to galvanize or disprove their claim would be intriguing.

The burgers served are pretty bare bones - they are cooked in these metal, antique ovens that vertical racks are inserted, allowing fat to drip away. Two pieces of toasted bread, an optional tomato, and a spread of what amounts to melted Veveeta cheese (kept warm by means of a steam table - akin to what is served with nachos at a coliseum). Overall a quality burger, with the only complaint of not being seasoned at all. Grab a couple of packets of salt if you are taking them away. Not much choice with regards to any type of food to accompany for they don't offer fries. One has to settle for Kettle potato chips and birch beer from Foxon Park in East Haven.

New Haven is great in the scope of Connecticut for it offers a lot of ethnic variety as far as restaurants go. Ibiza is overall pretty good, but does not deserve the plaudits heaped on it - basically, uninspired El Bulli and the nuevo cocino retreads with out the skill or flair. Union League is dated with regards its food. Menu has not changed much over the years - a few dishes come and go but reappear that following season. More about the dining room and the level of service. It does have a good wine list and makes pretty good, original cocktails. Both are expensive but worth if it you exercise some restraint and make good menu choices. Rumba is way over-rated and snobish for no good reason. Decent starter courses if you are on an expense account or somehow convinced a date to buy.

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Louis Lunch is more about the history and the kind of backwards charm that it exudes.  Although it is argued, it is one of the oldest establishments that claims to have invented the hamburger.  For someone to galvanize or disprove their claim would be intriguing.

The burgers served are pretty bare bones - they are cooked in these metal, antique ovens that vertical racks are inserted, allowing fat to drip away.  Two pieces of toasted bread, an optional tomato, and a spread of what amounts to melted Veveeta cheese (kept warm by means of a steam table - akin to what is served with nachos at a coliseum).  Overall a quality burger, with the only complaint of not being seasoned at all.  Grab a couple of packets of salt if you are taking them away.  Not much choice with regards to any type of food to accompany for they don't offer fries.  One has to settle for Kettle potato chips and birch beer from Foxon Park in East Haven.

New Haven is great in the scope of Connecticut for it offers a lot of ethnic variety as far as restaurants go.  Ibiza is overall pretty good, but does not deserve the plaudits heaped on it - basically, uninspired El Bulli and the nuevo cocino retreads with out the skill or flair.  Union League is dated with regards its food.  Menu has not changed much over the years - a few dishes come and go but reappear that following season.  More about the dining room and the level of service.  It does have a good wine list and makes pretty good, original cocktails.  Both are expensive but worth if it you exercise some restraint and make good menu choices.  Rumba is way over-rated and snobish for no good reason.  Decent starter courses if you are on an expense account or somehow convinced a date to buy.

Negative reports appreciated. Can you offer recommendations in NH?

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Sorry for the delay in replying. I unfortunately do not know New Hampshire very well, though hear that Portsmouth is really on the upswing and think it is charming.

My knowledge extends from Connecticut to Massachusetts (Boston) up to Maine. Check out Rickman's recent article from GQ with the Top 20 burgers in America. I have not the travel miles nor the expense account to compete with him, but think that Le Tub is off-base. I lived only fifteen minutes from there and quickly realized that the hype and mystique were not well-deserved.

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