Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lenny's Indian Head Inn in Branford, CT

Last weekend my friend Gayle and I took the scenic ride along the shoreline after our girl's afternoon out, and ended up at one of my favorite local dining destinations and watering holes, Lenny's Indian Head Inn in Branford, CT.
Located in the Indian Neck section of Branford, what I have always liked best about Lenny's Indian Head Inn  (Lenny's or The Indian Head for short) is that they never try to be something they're not.

In spite of being reviewed by several prominent publications and restaurant reviewers, and in spite of several remodeling projects and additions, they remain true to what they originally set out to be -- a great local "joint" that offers equally great food at affordable prices.

Whenever people ask me about Lenny's, I tell them what a great place it is...but not to expect tablecloths and candlelight dining.

It's simply a great place to eat, reminiscent of the wonderful eating places found in Misquamicut and Watch Hill, RI, and other famous New England shoreline destinations. The ones that know they don't have to be pretentious to serve great food.  The types of places where the locals themselves like to frequent!

Lenny's has been owned and operated by the Conlin family since the late sixties. At first known as a fun night spot, it was only a matter of time before it became equally well-known for the great food they served.  Eventually the pool table was retired to make way for extra tables and booths for hungry diners to eat in.  However, the bar is still a prominent and popular spot inside...

and outside...the addition of a huge deck with loads of picnic table seating overlooking the marsh  now offers a great al fresco dining area.  This is a fun place to grab some good grub when temperatures allow!

And I love the converted schooner that is now a raw bar and seating area!

I'm proud to say I'm one of the lucky people who knew owner Lenny Conlin, a colorful and fun character.
Pictured, L-R, Tommy Sullivan, Billy Ryan, and Lenny Conlin, circa 1980s
He would be so proud of the hard work his children have put into Lenny's , carrying on his vision of a shoreline destination with a nautical theme that gives a nod to their Irish heritage.
There's a lot of "Gaelic Green" inside!

We arrived at about 2pm on a beautiful and sunny early fall Saturday afternoon, just missing the busy lunch crowd.  Menus are found on the placemats with daily specials found on a sheet handed out when you're seated.
Menu from 9-22-12
Gayle ordered the Lobster -n- Steamers

The lobster was probably about a pound or so and the steamers were oh so sweet.  (Or so Gayle told me) (And yes she offered me some) We usually share an order of steamers but she tells me I open them and eat them faster than she does and I usually get more - so refusing her offer was my way of politely settling our score.) She walks faster than I do, so I guess it all evens out in the end!

I ordered the Fried Shrimp Dinner. The heck with the diet!
Jumbo butterflied shrimp perfectly golden brown with a side of french fries and zingy cole slaw.

Both were delicious and we each emptied our plates after photographing these two edible works of art from every conceivable angle.  (Thank you Gayle for your patience!)
My only complaint?  I don't like the tartar sauce squeeze bottles that most restaurants are using. But hey, I'm conscious of all the plastic that is being saved by not prepackaging them in the little 2 oz souffle cups.  Lenny's is doing their part save the earth! Guess I should jump on board too!

Service is always fast and friendly and the staff is knowledgeable about ingredients and offerings.  Unfortunately, we were a week late for their delicious seasonal strawberry shortcake that is made with fresh strawberries, homemade shortcake, and REAL WHIP CREAM!

Argh.  All the more reason to return as soon as the strawberries are out next year!  It's a great place to meet up with friends and you always see some familiar friendly faces.  On this day's visit we ran into good friend Robyn with Rich and his absolutely gorgeous daughter!

The cowboy wasn't able to join us - but if he had - he would have had one of his favorites - a Cheeseburger served on an English Muffin.  Don't laugh!  It's REALLY GOOD!

If you have a chance, visit Lenny's Indian Head Inn soon!  It's not just a summer destination!

205 South Montowese Street
Branford, CT 06405


And something new at Lenny's - they now accept credit cards!

For additional photos visit:  Home Place at Lenny's Indian Head Inn

Do you have a favorite shoreline restaurant?
We'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Lenny's Indian Head Inn on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sea Mist Cruise of the Thimble Islands in CT

Because the temperate weather is slowly leaving Connecticut, my friend Gayle and I decided to take advantage of a warm and sunny fall day by taking a cruise of the scenic Thimble Islands in the Stony Creek section of Branford CT.

There are several  sightseeing tours available of the Thimble Islands, the  Volsunga IV , the Islander , and the Sea Mist.  

Gayle had recently won a cruise for two aboard the Sea Mist in a local raffle, so our choice of which ship to select was very easy!

We took the 12:15pm, setting out from the Stony Creek Dock in Branford on a Saturday afternoon in late September.  The cruise lasts approximately 45 minutes and features views of some of the beautiful homes on the Thimble Islands, as well as the Connecticut shoreline

Captain Mike Infantino is chock full of information about how the islands were formed, Branford's earliest settlers on the Islands, pirate lore, and some of the storms that have devastated the East Coast, and the Thimbles.

It's a fun way to spend an afternoon and there are a few shops in Stony Creek where you can while away some time.

On the cruise you'll hear all about the Thimbles, famous people who have lived there (past and present), the island names, and their nicknames.  Money, Potato, Pumpkin, Horse, Governor, and my favorite, Mother-in-law Island (!!) just to name a few!

Here's some pictures of Captain Mike Infintino narrating our cruise and some of the trip's highlights...

Below is "Captain Kidd's Cove" - where legend has it that he and his crew would lie in wait to surprise passing vessels.
 ...and of course, the jolly roger flag flies proudly on the Sea Mist!

For more pictures click on: Home Place Sea Mist Cruise of the Thimble Islands

The Sea Mist sails May through October (closed Tuesdays) and is available for private charters.  Check out their schedule and more information here 
ALSO***They offer seal watch cruises on weekends only in March see info here

We had a great time and would highly recommend this as a fun family afternoon suitable for all ages.

Stony Creek Town Dock
Indian Point Road
Stony Creek, Branford, CT

Have you visited the Thimble Islands?
I'd love to hear your story below in the comment section!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cash Mob at the Sweet Shoppe in East Haven, CT

On Saturday afternoon,  Cash Mob CT  descended on its latest recipient, the Sweet Shoppe in East Haven, CT.
The premise of Cash Mob, CT is simple.  Support local business!  Sponsored by REX Development you can participate in Cash Mob CT too!  All it takes is a twenty dollar bill, access to the selected destination, and a desire to shop!  (Count me in!)

Did you know that for every $20 that is spent at a local retailer, $13.60 will return to the community through taxes and payroll?  REX Development is doing their part to help local commerce and supports 15 towns and cities in Connecticut.
(picture above courtesy of REX Development)

Past winners have been RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, Flutterby in Guilford, the Bethany Farm Market in Bethany and Sweet Cioccolata in Wallingford.

If you're lucky enough to live in one of the 15 municipalities listed above - look for a  Cash Mob CT to come to your town soon! 

On to the Sweet Shoppe!

We arrived just a few minutes after the 1pm start and were happy to see so many folks enjoying the "Cash Mob Love"!!  
We were able to browse the sweets and meet owners MaryJane Best and Tim Pendred who were both pleased and honored to have been selected as the winning East Haven Cash Mobee!   They are both just as nice as nice can be!

They were up against some stiff competition with some established places like Goodies and a local bakery that was recently featured on a Food Network special.Luckily for them...the vote was overwhelming in support of Sweet Shoppe.  On the  Cash Mob CT  facebook page, after hearing that Sweet Shoppe won, Jackie from East Haven posted: 
"I've gone to this shop twice now. It's my family's new favorite ice cream shop. The ice cream is excellent! We we really like it. It's a cute little shop and it's immaculate!"
Well, Jackie!  You are right!  The cowboy and I decided to take you up on your recommendation and we each purchased a hot fudge sundae made with soft serve ice cream.  Chocolate for him and vanilla for me.  YUM!  Only $4.75 each for a LARGE!  And look at that...they are made with love!
 Pssst. Tim and MaryJane...on our way in we met the nicest woman outside enjoying a ice cream cone who said she is more than willing to make sitting outside eating one of your cones her full-time job!  
There's plenty of treats to be had at the Sweet Shoppe!  Chocolate covered pretzels, caramel and chocolate dipped apples...

And all sorts of novelties packaged for a cute little gifts!  
A candy filled pitcher
and an ice cream cone bank!

There's also plenty of fresh scooped ice cream and gelato in all sorts of flavors!  These prices are crazy good!
If you have a chance, I highly recommend you stop at the Sweet Shoppe and enjoy some sweets and treats!  Ice cream and chocolates.  Life is good!

208 Main Street
East Haven, CT 06512

Open 11am - ??? 
(hours vary by season)
Closed Sundays

What's your favorite ice cream?  
Do you have any local ice cream parlors you visit?
I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Jimmies of Savin Rock in West Haven CT

If you haven't made it to the Connecticut shoreline for some good food and salt air yet, there is still plenty of time to enjoy some warm late summer / early fall weather down at Jimmies of Savin Rock!
HOME PLACE: Jimmies of Savin Rock WH CT
Jimmies was established in 1925 as a teeny little hot dog stand that stood at the outskirts of the famous Savin Rock Amusement Park featuring  hot dogs "split down the middle" and cooked on a flat top grille.

Even after the amusement park closed "The Rock" was the place to go on a warm summer night, and Jimmies' parking lot would fill up every evening with cool cars and even cooler teens.  Hot rods, motorcycles, loud music - it was every teen's dream hangout...and every parent's worst nightmare!! (Although most parents really loved it there just as much as we kids did!!)
Oh Happy Days!

Everyone who grew up in West Haven remembers walking up to the counter and ordering a hot dog and fries and hearing "one up" - "one order" - Jimmies lingo for a hog dog and fries.

It soon grew to the place to go for hot dogs and fried seafood, evolving from a hot dog stand, to a "drive-in", to a full scale restaurant.

A co-worker had recently gone there and reminded me that they had the BEST STEAMERS EVER! And even though I wasn't in the mood for steamers...I decided that a trip to Jimmies before the summer officially ended was certainly in order.

Jimmies features a full menu and offers plenty of daily specials.
HOME PLACE: Jimmies of Savin Rock WH CT
The cowboy and I got there pretty early for a Friday night, at about 5:30 and were able to be seated right away.  We were told by the hostess that there was a 45 minute wait for a patio table, but when I went out to take some pictures it appeared there were lots of tables available.  (Hmmm).
HOME PLACE: Jimmies of Savin Rock WH CT
Disappointing, but regardless, we were seated promptly and although not at a window table, we still had a great view of Long Island Sound.  Yes folks.  Jimmies is right on the water!
HOME PLACE: Jimmies of Savin Rock WH CT
We both went with each of Jimmies' famous platters. The cowboy had the hot dog platter, two hot dogs with choice of salad or cole slaw and potato ($7.95). I ordered the lobster roll platter, a single hot lobster roll served on a grilled hot dog bun with choice of salad or slaw and potato ($17.95).

The cowboy ordered the salad, and  I went with the cole slaw.   The pictures below of the salad and slaw are after we had already eaten half!  (Note to self:  Remember to take pictures before eating!!!) 
HOME PLACE: Jimmies of Savin Rock WH CTThe cole slaw was actually heaping over the dish and the salad was in a HUGE bowl.  Great portions!

We both opted for Jimmies french fries with our platters.  The french fries taste the same as I remember from 50 years ago! Absolutely. Delicious. The cowboy agrees. 
HOME PLACE: Jimmies of Savin Rock WH CT
 The cowboy was disappointed with the hot dogs.  (Could it be because they weren't Hummels??)
HOME PLACE: Jimmies of Savin Rock WH CT
But my lobster roll was fabulous!  Again, just as good as I remember!.  Fresh and buttery, but not overly buttery-greasy.  YUM!

We finished up and took a quick walk outside and down the West Haven boardwalk.  A great way to spend one of the dwindling summer nights.
HOME PLACE: Jimmies of Savin Rock WH CT
Beach side at Jimmies.

HOME PLACE: Jimmies of Savin Rock WH CT
The Patio Bar
HOME PLACE: Jimmies of Savin Rock WH CT
HOME PLACE: Jimmies of Savin Rock WH CTThe West Haven boardwalk.
HOME PLACE: Jimmies of Savin Rock WH CT
 And the beach outside of Jimmies.
HOME PLACE: Jimmies of Savin Rock WH CT

and enjoy some of the best views and food that West Haven has to offer!

Jimmies of Savin Rock
5 Rock Street
West Haven, CT 06516

Mon-Thurs 11am to 9:30pm
Fri-Sat - 11am to 11pm
Sun 11am to 9:30pm

For additional pictures of our Jimmies Visit click here

Do you have any favorite shoreline restaurants?
What are your memories of old Savin Rock?

Tell us about them in the comments below.

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