Tag Archives: seafood

Lenny and Joe’s Long Wharf

Lenny and Joe’s Long Wharf

Pleasantly surprised that this branch of Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale lived up to the best experience I have ever had at an L and J, which was this awesome dinner I had recently in their Westbook restaurant. The lower review average may be due to less New Haven guests “knowing what to expect.” The seafood was fresh (we had raw Blue Point oysters, clams, a fried shrimp roll, and a lobster roll) and the service was on point. The prices were totally in line with the other Lenny and Joe’s.

Note to the team of Lenny and Joe’s servers: As a restaurant industry professional who has “put my time in” (more than 2 decades experience) I would recommend NOT wearing shorts during work. Not only will a full length pant better protect the body from hot food in the event of catastrophic spill, full length pants will also shield the legs from idiotic male guests suffering from demented Hooters mindsets. Just my 2 cents.

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A Antiga

Restaurante Esplanada Marisqueira arthur mullen tiago matosinhos portugal seafood restaurant crab Açorda de Marisco porto portugal

With my career being in restaurants, food is kind of my reason for living. When I visit a new city, I like to eat across different levels of dining. For dinner on my last night in Porto, my 2 Portuguese friends and I went to Restaurante Esplanada Marisqueira which I gathered to be THE special occasion expensive seafood restaurant in Matosinhos. My lovely friend was NOT happy I was spending more money on her (look at her FACE! Oh man, I’m in trouble.) The mayor of Porto and the mayor of Matosinhos and their wives were at a table on the other side of the dining room, and I was excited to be living large.

Restaurante Esplanada Marisqueira arthur mullen tiago matosinhos portugal seafood restaurant crab Açorda de Marisco porto portugal

My friend Tiago walked with me up to the raw bar counter where we talked with one of the chefs about seafood unique to European/Portuguese waters. They brought out what looked like a dungeoness crab (I’m guessing its species but I’m no expert!) which walked up and down the counter like a top heavy body builder. I think we ate him later. We also got to see several kinds of shellfish, 2 kinds of lobster, and a giant prawn. This is Tiago’s favorite seafood restaurant in the world, where he has been coming with family since his youth. That’s a lot of expectations! Happily, the restaurant delivered on it’s reputation for the highest standards.

Restaurante Esplanada Marisqueira arthur mullen tiago matosinhos portugal seafood restaurant crab Açorda de Marisco porto portugal

Everything we were served was amazing. The bodybuilder crab (I’m pretty sure that’s the species – or maybe it was a Lance Armstrong crab, on the juice) was served steamed, white crab meat cooked to perfection and not a second over. In its shell was creamy, succulent crab dip. We had small clams cooked in white wine and butter, and soaked up the sauce (and the crab dip) with toast. Despite being pretty full already, the 3 of us split Açorda de Marisco, one of the house specialties, amazingly rich and delicious Portuguese bread soup studded with gems of shrimp and other local seafood.

Restaurante Esplanada Marisqueira arthur mullen tiago matosinhos portugal seafood restaurant crab Açorda de Marisco porto portugal

If I had to try to summarize my dining experience at Restaurante Esplanada Marisqueira, I would use just one word. It’s the same word that I reflexively muttered when the waiter wheeled out the incredible dessert cart, and in fact, I will go ahead with this one word to summarize my entire first visit to Portugal: damn.

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Bacalhoeiro

bacalhoeiro bacalhau

My friend’s father Eloi invited me to their home for dinner. Elio prepared the classic Portuguese dish of bacalhau, making everything from scratch.

bacalhoeiro bacalhau

The cod was soaked for many hours to wash away the brine. Eloi then boiled the cod with potato and carrots, which he diced on the spot. I was impressed by his deftness in the kitchen!

bacalhoeiro bacalhau

My friend physically removed me from the sink, where I tried to post up and do my thing to impress her father. I realized that if I was not allowed to do the cleaning, I would have to impress him with my eating. One way or another, I was determined to clean my plate.

bacalhoeiro bacalhau

I’m very familiar with cod as a delicious white fish and I was not at all worried about eating a lot of it. However, the salt cod was a little heavier than I’d thought. Adding to the heartiness, my friend slowly drizzled extra virgin olive oil over my bone-in primal cut of salt cod – by far the biggest piece on the table.

bacalhoeiro bacalhau

The flavors of each element shined. The cod is slightly meatier for the brine and tasting of the sea. The olive oil teased out some of the fish’s sweetness. The potatoes and carrots were earthy, satisfying bites. Bg thank you to Eloi (and Nikita!) for having me over for dinner, and cooking an amazing Portuguese classic.

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Charcutaria

charcutaria terminal 4450 porto matisinhos steak prawn cocktail sangria new restaurant time out 3rdarm

Terminal 4450, opened in the back half of 2015, is housed beside the Rio Leça, and through floor to ceiling windows you will see many boats float by, outbound for the wider ocean. As a restaurant professional, I say with confidence my home city of Chicago would take to this winning concept (you had us at “steak”….) Sharing portions of familiar sounding dishes (charcuterie, surf and turf) enhanced with Portuguese ingredients and insider knowledge, paired with well balanced cocktails, made for an amazing dinner.

charcutaria terminal 4450 porto matisinhos steak prawn cocktail sangria new restaurant time out 3rdarm

Service was warmly attentive to every detail, the gentleman taking care of us gamely putting up with my lame jokes (I would say lame American jokes but here I must accept the blame, not my country) and imparting genuine recommendations. I was impressed by the questions he asked to ascertain my dining companion’s palette for drink, and she ended up loving their dry take on sangria. For an appetizer, she and I shared little sandwiches of roast beef with caramelized onion, truffle mayo and arugula… these flavors together made for satisfying bites. Our shared entree of steak and prawns was so well cooked and paired so beautifully with the jus-based sauce, it was one of the best dishes I’ve had in the past year. Our server generously brought us delicious delicately fried polenta on the house.

charcutaria terminal 4450 porto matisinhos steak prawn cocktail sangria new restaurant time out 3rdarm

When I visit a new city (or an old city, as it’s mostly old cities in Europe) the first thing on my mind is restaurant food. I love to explore a place by dining out on different levels: street food, fast casual, full service, fine dining. There are always many classic restaurants that one must-try: newly opened restaurants are more a roll of the dice. My friend’s recommendation for Terminal 4450 however turned out to be a surprise delight, a culinary high of my first visit to her city. Steakhouse and cocktail bar meets water views and modern design… big thank you to the chefs and service staff who are already making magic happen!

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Clam Rolls

lenny joes fish tail madison connecticut judy blasko 3rdarm guilford onion rings

Here is a quick description of the 3 Lenny & Joe’s locations:

New Haven: table service, awesome seafood, beer and wine, right on the water

Westbrook: table service, awesome seafood, beer and wine, cozy sit-down restaurant

Madison: counter service, awesome seafood, no alcohol but they have soft serve ice cream & there’s a massive outdoor seating area with carousel, located right across Route 1 from state park beach

lenny joes fish tail madison connecticut judy blasko 3rdarm guilford onion rings

The Madison location is the Lenny & Joe’s I have eaten at the most, and it’s my favorite, for the casual nature and the beautiful outdoor seating area, where even Roxie the dog is welcome. There is a full size carousel with all proceeds going to charity, and a separate walk-up counter for soft serve ice cream.

In the summer, Aunty’s favorite is the CT-style lobster rolls (hot buttered lobster on a toasted hotdog bun) and in the colder months, she prefers the fried clam roll with tartar on the side. Either way, there will be indigestion.

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Bluefish Hobo Pack

the place unusual restaurant guilford connecticut 1971 arthur mullen favorite chicago 3rdarm corn clams bluefish

I’m a big fan of yelp and an even bigger fan of The Place, my favorite restaurant in Connecticut, maybe the world. It bugs me that The Place’s review average has dropped to 3.5 stars, seemingly on the back of a single one star rating from a night when they were short-staffed. I know that’s the nature of the restaurant business: you’re only as good as your last service.

the place unusual restaurant guilford connecticut 1971 arthur mullen favorite chicago 3rdarm corn clams bluefish

The Place deserves more respect, putting out delicious and unduplicable offerings from a huge backyard firepit since the early seventies! I returned this summer with my aunt for dinner. The clams were briny and spicy, hot off that blazing fire pit. I burned my tongue on a hot clam because I seriously JUST COULD NOT WAIT. The bluefish was one of the best pieces of fish I have ever had: it was unbelievably fresh and cooked to perfection in its hobo pack.

the place unusual restaurant guilford connecticut 1971 arthur mullen favorite chicago 3rdarm corn clams bluefish

The owner (man with beard) was everywhere, making sure all details from the kitchen and in the stump-filled dining room were on point. That’s the recipe for success! It was the best dinner of my summer so far. This the one Place I tell my restaurant industry colleagues in Chicago HAVE to visit when they find themselves on the Connecticut shore.

the place unusual restaurant guilford connecticut 1971 arthur mullen favorite chicago 3rdarm corn clams bluefish

The cooks were super nice (over the top enthusiastic, actually!) to answer a couple questions at the end of dinner about their old school firing board. Basically they’re marking long domino-like tiles with pencil to group tables’ orders into pick-ups. Refreshingly old school, unique and with a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” mentality, just like The Place!

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Lobster in the Rough

noank connecticut abbotts lobster in the rough lobster roll connecticut style 3rdarm arthur mullen

Aunt Judy and I had not been to Abbott’s in roughly (see what I did there?!) 20 years. We drove up the CT shore from Guilford for dinner one summer night. Noank is a trip, literally, and well worth the 45 minute drive for one of the world’s best Connecticut-style (read: hot butterered) lobster rolls. Instead of a traditional hotdog bun, Abbott’s serves their legendary version on a toasted sesame seed bun.

noank connecticut abbotts lobster in the rough lobster roll connecticut style 3rdarm arthur mullen judy blasko

Aunty and I agreed the lobster rolls were absolutely delicious, and the local sweet corn was a perfect side for this summer treat. The people watching (tourists who don’t understand the counter-style ordering system common at New England clam shacks) was just as good as the natural beauty of Long Island Sound and Fischer’s Island.

noank connecticut abbotts lobster in the rough lobster roll connecticut style 3rdarm arthur mullen

We joked that if I worked at Abbott’s, it would be in the separate Dessert Hut (this is actually not a joke, in a different life I am known as Jabba the Dessert Hut.) The only thing I would change, if I ruled the world (or at least had some influence on a Connecticut foodie institution like Abbott’s) would be the elimination of styrofoam cups and plates.

noank connecticut abbotts lobster in the rough lobster roll connecticut style 3rdarm arthur mullen

I understand the need to keep costs low… and more and more businesses are starting to understand that we have to keep environmental costs low to preserve nature’s beauty. It would be awesome if Abbott’s got on board! In any event, it was a real treat for my aunt and me. We will be back!

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Atlantic Seafood

atlantic seafood lobster maine connecticut shore reins deli pickles kosher 3rdarm judy blasko judith etta kostick 3rdarm

Atlantic Seafood came highly recommended by my attorney Bull, who lives in Old Saybrook. His brother DotCom and my aunt Judy confirmed its the place for serious seafood on this stretch Connecticut shore.

atlantic seafood lobster maine connecticut shore reins deli pickles kosher 3rdarm judy blasko judith etta kostick 3rdarm

Etta called around and priced lobsters. Not only was Atlantic Seafood a dollar or two cheaper than competitors, they also did not have a tiered pricing structure for different weight lobsters.

atlantic seafood lobster maine connecticut shore reins deli pickles kosher 3rdarm judy blasko judith etta kostick 3rdarm

The selection of seafood was fantastic with multiple delicious species of fish, oysters and shellfish, and shrimp of gigantic size as well. We stuck to the lobster. Etta gave these guys a 12 minute hot water bath.

atlantic seafood lobster maine connecticut shore reins deli pickles kosher 3rdarm judy blasko judith etta kostick 3rdarm

The lobsters were filled with sweet meat! The last night in Connecticut, I had my sweets (Aunty, Etta, Roxie) and my treats (lobsters, pickles, Nutter Butters). Who could ask for anything more?

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Clam Rolls On

xoco chicago caldo de res menu development 3rdarm

The short vacation back home lead to a shortened work week, which I loved. The clam roll at Lenny and Joe’s, where we ate dinner our last night in Connecticut, lead to heart burn for Etta, which she did not like.

lenny and joes fish tail connecticut clam roll 3rdarm

My chefs welcomed me back to Chicago with a taste of delicious caldo de res, a traditional beef stew from Mexico, which will be featured on our upcoming seasonal menu at Xoco. I ate the whole thing.

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The Place, an Unusual Restaurant

the place guilford judy blasko arthur mullen 3rdarm

Aunty, Etta and I headed to my favorite restaurant, The Place, for dinner Monday night.

the place guilford 3rdarm connecticut

We had roasted clams, bluefish, ears of corn, a ribeye steak, and key lime pie.

the place guilford 3rdarm connecticut

I had on Bop Bop’s East Hartford sweatshirt, and Yaunter climbed a stump.

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