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74 Bank Street, New London
Located in the old Exchange, with excellent water views and a fine deck, Noble has reimagined the interior with a gorgeous but simple design to attract folks who might want to linger a while in a comfortable but elegant fine dining spot.
The food is a very creative and clever take on contemporary American cuisine, with plenty of routine headliners — beef, fish, chicken, lamb — spun in dazzling ways through various seasonings, vegetables and fruits, and sauces.
Our table loved the simply named "Mussels" ($16), which works as an appetizer and/or main dish. Along with several beautifully steamed PEI bivalves buoyant in a decadent white wine cream sauce nuanced by kale, tomato, cream and alliums, the dish includes hunks of chicken sausage dusted with Creole seasoning. Fantastic.
Another fine choice? The Rib Eye ($28) with a fine, moderately sized cut of steak in a maddeningly good Luxardo cherry glaze, nestled on a platter with pearl onions, creamy mashed potatoes, broccoli, and mushrooms — all individually compelling flavors and textures doing an all-night-style rave in your mouth.
And the service was exceptional.
— Rick Koster
66 Water St., Stonington
There's something for everyone on the menu at Breakwater in Stonington, from lobster rolls and burgers to fried chicken and creamy macaroni and cheese, to vegan and vegetarian dishes, tacos and flatbreads, steak medallions, seafood pasta, brunch, and a whole heck of a lot more.
And they offer a terrific happy hour deal, with half off in the bar from 3 to 6 p.m. every day they're open.
This is one of the Kodama family restaurants, run by legendary restauranteur Jon Kodama's daughter, Mari, and she doesn't just offer good food at good prices, but her establishment is located on the water in Stonington borough, featuring front-row seats for sunsets.
The Brussels Sprouts ($9), a bar bite or appetizer in the dining room, are a house favorite. They are lightly fried and topped with Applewood smoked-bacon and a balsamic reduction, and you'll see other diners all around you ordering them. The Fish Tacos ($14), are also popular. They're served with fried Atlantic cod, cabbage slaw, cheddar jack cheese, pico de gallo, and a cilantro lime crema.
If you visit when the sun is shining and the temperatures have warmed up, there's outdoor seating on the dock, or inside in the dining room or bar. There are various menus to choose from, and all kinds of price points. The Loaded Nachos are $15 and the Cioppino — with shrimp, scallops, calamari, cod, clams, and a roasted tomato and basil scented broth — $28.
Check their website for specials and their hours. Currently, Breakwater is closed on Tuesdays, but as the season heats up, they will be open seven days a week.
— Ann Baldelli
16 Main St., Colchester
Comfort foods taste better when they’re made with fresh, local ingredients — add in a dash of love, and you’ve got a meal of champions.
We can’t say for certain how much love went into our meals at Vintage in Colchester, but the good intentions were difficult to miss because every ingredient Vintage uses is as local as possible or made in-house.
The menu is heavy on burger options, plus a handful of small-plate “Snacks” and a few entrees.
Burger aficionados will find a contender for best local burger in Vintage’s selection, which includes a build-your-own option with an available plethora of locally sourced add-ons. Or choose from a list of decadent house creations like the Bahn Mi Burger ($14), topped with the pork pate and pea shoots plus spicy ginger mayo and turmeric ginger sauerkraut.
This is true local flavor, people, and you will taste the difference when you tuck in at Vintage. The homey vibe and friendly staff are the cherry on top.
— Marisa Nadolny