Craving comfort food? Here are some of our favorites.
“Because it’s winter” is an excellent reason to indulge in comfort foods. And there are so many excellent choices when it comes to those dishes in this region. Here are some of our favorites.
Smoked gouda meatloaf
If you’re looking for the ultimate in comfort food, Evie’s has a menu-full for you. The sign on Route 1 in Westerly proclaims “cocktails & comforts,” and the menu doesn’t list entrees or big plates but, again, comforts. You can pick between mac & cheese, Mama’s fried chicken bowl and shepherd’s pie, but my “go to” is the meatloaf.
This simple mixture of ground beef, bread crumbs and spices is too often messed up by restaurants. Not here. The meatloaf is the perfect density and covered with tasty brown gravy. The chunks of Gouda give it all a wonderful smokiness. Add garlic mashed and carrots and ignore the weather.
— Tim Cotter
Philly Steak Egg Rolls
The Philly Steak Egg Rolls may be the best thing on the menu at Stonington Pizza. Steak, sauteed onions and American cheese wrapped tight in egg rolls that are deep fried and served with a fabulous chipotle aioli. There are three in an order, and although listed as an appetizer, they are a meal in themselves. This place may be a Greek pizza house, but it gets five stars for the Philly Steak Egg Rolls.
— Ann Baldelli
Brisket Mac & Cheese
Noble Smokehouse, Mystic
$7 for small, $9 for the large
This is comfort food on steroids. Cheesy good macaroni with bite-sized hunks of melt-in-your-mouth brisket — two stand-alone foods make you feel so good combined in one dish — well, there’s not much better than that. Noble Smokehouse is a comfort food palace and the Brisket Mac & Cheese with a side of the jalapeno cheddar cornbread will fill your belly and warm your heart.
— Ann Baldelli
Grilled cheese at The Shack, East Lyme, Waterford or Groton
The Shack is the capital of comfort food. The menu is flush with enticing options, from The Mess for breakfast (home fries, topped with scrambled eggs, ham, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, sausage and onions covered in Monterey Jack cheese and bacon, served with grilled corn bread, for $15.99) to Russell’s Meatloaf Dinner (The Shack’s secret meatloaf recipe, served with mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetables, for $15.99). For me, though, there’s something about the grilled cheese that is so old-school delicious that it rises above the rest. It’s gooey and cheesy, and the bread is buttery, and, well, I wouldn’t want to see the nutritional info on this. You can get it with tomato, ham or bacon added, and a side order of your choice comes with it, for $11.49.
— Kristina Dorsey
Fish melt at Mr. G’s, New London
I’ve turned more than a few folks onto this creation from the kitchen wizards at Mr. G’s. Theoretically, it sorta sounds like any fast-food fish sandwich, right? But no! Maybe it’s the butter saturated through slices of Texas toast. Perhaps it’s the thick plank of whitefish, perfectly battered for a crisp but not overpowering crunch. Add a few coins of dill pickles from the pile supplied on the plate. Tartar? It’s there if you want it, but this marvelous sammich works wonderfully just the way it is. Served with fries at $10.95. Note: It’s a daily special, meaning it’s not always available. But it pops up frequently.
— Rick Koster
Sweet chili chicken slice at Illiano’s, Waterford
There’s a decided Asian component to this pizza courtesy of a glaze reminiscent of sweet ‘n’ sour sauce. But it also has a definite heat factor, as well, which sneaks up delightfully as you chew the shredded chicken and cheese that blanket the rest of this very fine thin crust pie. I can’t be certain, but I want to say this precise recipe was invented on-site by one of the folks in the kitchen. Be careful: this has addictive properties! $5.50 per slice.
— Rick Koster
Cheeseburger, The Dutch Tavern, New London
Full disclosure: I tended bar here for about 10 years and owners Peter Detmold and Martha Conn are two of the best people I’ve ever worked for. Having said that, I also hung out and ate at the Dutch long before I worked, so I’m not completely biased. I’ve probably eaten everything on the menu — save for the liverwurst because I’m neither European nor a psychopath — but I always come back to the cheeseburger. It’s small, so sometimes two are in order , but it’s grilled to perfection, with your standard accoutrements available. The potato salad is a delight, so try the soup of the day (they’re all homemade and delicious), have a pint or a soda, and then get back on with your day.
— Owen Poole