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    Sunday, December 04, 2022

    Sea View is a big slice of comfort food nirvana

    Chowder, lobster roll and fries (Ann Baldelli)

    If you are driving by the teal-colored snack shack on the road to the Mystic Seaport Museum and there’s space in the parking lot, do yourself a favor and pull in and indulge. 

    The Sea View Snack Bar has been serving up delicious fast food along the Mystic River since 1976, and they continue to pack in the customers. On our recent visit on a weekday in late June, we arrived before noon and got a space in the lot, but by the time we left, the place was hopping and vehicles filled the lot and were spilling out onto the adjacent roadway.

    Sea View is a big slice of comfort food nirvana. They offer bacon cheeseburgers and grilled long hot dogs with extras like chili or bacon and cheese or sauerkraut. They dish up French fries, onion rings, calamari, whole clams and strips, crab cakes, chicken tenders, sea scallops, cold lobster rolls, and more. A good portion of what they serve is fried, but it’s good, light and tasty, not overcooked and greasy.

    We decided on the lobster roll, $25.95, and for $3.95 more, added a cold drink and French fries. Sometimes you have just got to splurge.

    The lobster roll was generous chunks of cold lobster with a light touch of mayonnaise and diced celery and fresh dill, served on a toasted hot dog roll with a little bit of lettuce. Yum, yum, yum!!!

    We like to do the double switch, where we order different things and share, so we get to taste something of everything. My luncheon companion that day ordered the whole clam roll, $23.95, and added the fries and beverage for the extra $3.95. We also tried the onion rings, $4.25, a cup of the New England clam chowder, $4.29, and the coleslaw, $1.25.

    It was way too much food and we couldn’t finish all of it, but let me tell you how much we enjoyed our lunch. The chowder was flavorful, perfectly seasoned, and loaded with more clams than potatoes. It could have arrived a tad bit warmer, but we devoured it just the same. Even the oyster crackers, which were served on the side, were so fresh and crisp when we opened the packet that we agreed to add a few on top of our chowder. Those crackers are oftentimes stale, but in this case, they perfectly complemented the chowder.

    The clam roll was also very good. The whole belly clams were crisp on the ends, and the gooey middles were briny and piping hot. Of course, we lathered our clams with tartar sauce.

    At Sea View, the picnic tables are located on a bed of gravel right along the river, and each table is topped with a red umbrella advertising Coca-Cola. There are more tables beneath a shade pavilion, and there’s additional riverside seating and a walkway that leads to the ice cream shop next door, Twisters. We were too full to indulge in dessert, but we did watch several other parties finish their lunch and head over for a cone or a sundae.

    One other thing worth mentioning. There’s a condiment table in the shade, and it might be the cleanest version of one that I have ever seen. Staff managed to wipe up every drop of mustard and ketchup and keep the cocktail sauce and chopped onion bin full.

    We decided that many of our fellow diners were tourists, with a handful of locals mixed in. A survey of license plates in the parking lot suggested guests hailed from Maryland, New Jersey, New York, California, and Massachusetts.

    But even with all those folks, the setting was serene and we enjoyed our food. The French fries and the onion rings were hot and golden brown, and the little tub of coleslaw was just the right amount of tangy.

    There’s something to be said about a place that’s been in business for 46 years and continues to be so successful. Clearly, the Sea View Snack Bar owners have mastered the art of preparing and serving good, quality fast food in a scenic location. You don’t have to go for a full meal; you can get a fish sandwich for $8.95 or a veggie burger for $7.25. But go and enjoy the view and the breeze off the river.

    Picnic tables at Sea View overlook the Mystic River (Ann Baldelli)
    Onion rings, coleslaw, fries and whole belly clam roll (Ann Baldelli)

    Sea View Snack Bar

    145 Greenmanville Ave., Mystic

    Search on their name to find their website and to locate them on social media.

    Atmosphere: It’s all outdoor seating at the snack bar with sweeping views of the Mystic River and the historic ships docked at the nearby Mystic Seaport. If you hit it right, you may visit on a day when colorful little sailboats are out in force on the river, sailing right past the picnic table you’re dining at.

    Alcohol: No

    Hours: Summer hours are Sunday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    Prices: Fair and reasonable

    Credit cards: Yes

    Handicap accessible: Yes

    Outdoor seating: Yes, yes, yes!

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