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Day writers reflect on recent food experiences

New London Coffee Shop

453 Montauk Ave.

New London

I'm no marketing genius, but when I see a coffee shop sign, I don't automatically think, "Oh, THERE'S where I'll find some authentic Salvadoran food!"

On the other hand, I don't drink coffee, so what have I been missing? Because it turns out the New London Coffee Shop, just down the street from Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, is a repository of wonderful indigenous food from El Salvador and Central America.

The signature dish is pupusas, which are handmade corn-based tortillas stuffed with a variety of meat and/or veggie fillings. The tortillas resemble a hocky puck more than our thin Tex-Mex associations of corn or floud tortillas. They're amazing on their own — and I could happily slather them with butter or the Coffee Shop's own rojo or verde salsas and eat them until time in our universe wound down to Nothingness.

But inside, the shredded chicken or spicy ground beef fillings or any or a number of fresh veggies or beans make the pupusas a distinctive and amazing dish.

Don't forget the bountiful Latin breakfasts or combo meals and the New York-style deli sandwiches, in particular a thick roast beef and Swiss offering, are winners, too.

— Rick Koster

Pequot Inn

246 Montauk Ave, Fishers Island, NY

(631) 788-7246

Unless you belong to a private club or have a home on the island, The Pequot Inn is the only option for dining on Fishers Island, and it's not a bad one.

This is not a five-star joint, it's café or comfort food, and after sunset, there's always entertainment at The Pequot.

We visited early on a busy weekday evening and were able to score a table on the patio. Wood-fired 14-inch pizzas are a big-seller at The Pequot, and in addition to the White Clam ($22) we tried, there are other choices like Roast Garlic & Sausage ($20), Meatlovers ($21), and Margherita ($20). The Catch of the Day varies, and while it wasn't available while we were there, a friend told me when he visited, fresh tuna was on the menu and reportedly it had been landed by a local fisherman.

There are other featured dishes, like a pork chop ($24) and the hangar steak ($26), but most diners lean towards the Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($14), Double Smash Cheeseburger ($15), or Fish Tacos ($15).

The Pequot is always an adventure, since it involves a boat (or plane or helicopter) ride, and it's a chance to mingle with the island's year-round and summer residents. The place has ceased to operate as a hotel — staff sleeps in the upstairs rooms now — so if you decide to visit, check the website first to make sure they're still open for the season and make sure you have a return trip home.

— Ann Baldelli

Lenny's on the Beach

88 Hartford Ave., Old Lyme

(860) 598-4484

A trip to Lenny's on the Beach in Old Lyme is kind of like going to a barbecue at a friend of a friend's house. You might know some folks there, but your Spidey sense says to bring a pal or two just in case. Besides: Food! Beer! Tiki torches! What's not to love?

As it turns out, Lenny's serves up casual pub fare at a level well above any backyard fare. We encountered super fresh ahi tuna wrapped with equally fresh veggies ($14); a very good burger that appeared hand-formed ($9); and decidedly moist and tender chicken in the two chicken dishes we sampled, a well-executed Southwestern Buffalo wrap ($11) and some basic tenders in a Cajun dry rub that was (too) generously applied.

Plus, the view off the patio of Long Island Sound is the best free side dish ever. Bonus: People-watching galore. You'll leave your meal at Lenny's entertained and sated, and possibly with a few new friends.

— Marisa Nadolny



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