WHERE TO EAT WHEN YOU'RE CRUISING into unfamiliar harbors often feels like an insurmountable problem, especially along the Northeastern Seaboard. While looking around Long Island Sound to create a guide to its gastronomic offerings, we realized that this region hosted so many great dining options that it merited a two-part series.
In this issue of Marinalife, we present a delicious sampling of the Connecticut Shore's waterfront establishments that feature fresh seafood and local cuisine. Stay tuned for Part II when we tour the culinary treasures along the Long Island New York Shore.
La Piccola Casa Ristorante
Dock at Nichols Yacht Yard and treat your crew to great Northern Italian cuisine in an historic house on the waterfront with terrific harbor views.
The Crab Shell
For waterfront dining at Harbor Landing Marina, savor excellent seafood and local favorites. Also check out the outdoor bar with a crab shack and live music.
On the dock and right near the fuel dock at Norwalk Cove Marina, guests can enjoy gourmet seafood offered at a lively seasonal, outdoor venue. (Note: Dozens of restaurants are accessible from Norwalk Cove Marina or Rex Marine Center (via the Cove/Rex shuttle) or from the Norwalk Town Dock.)
Located at Dolphin's Cove Restaurant & Marina and an easy spot to meet crew coming by Rt. 95 or the Port Jefferson Ferry, this family-oriented eatery offers a wide array of dishes from the sea and land and a kids' menu.
Captain's Cove Seaport Restaurant, Bar & Marina
Nested in the waterfront on Black Rock Harbor, it serves battered and fried seafood and shellfish, and has a decent kids' menu. Check out lots of attractions in the area.
Located at Brewer's Stratford Marina, this restaurant presents fine dining in a casual atmosphere. Sample fresh fish and other seafood delights prepared to order.
The Chowder Spot
This food truck at the boat launch ramp in Stratford Harbor dishes up the ultimate in casual grub with a fantastic waterfront view.
(between Stratford and Milford on the Connecticut coast)
Joey C's Boathouse Cantina & Grill
Raise a fork to an all-around good menu with Mexican specialties, as well as local seafood, vegan and gluten-free options, and a large outdoor deck.
Enjoy excellent seafood and classic dishes in a graceful venue overlooking the Housatonic River. Find a nice, secluded bar and lovely banquet room.
Located right on the water with a wonderful menu to match the view. Choose from a variety of seafood dishes ranging from clam chowder to lobster ravioli accompanied by a good raw bar.
After docking at Milford Landing Marina, a one-block walk takes you to lots of great dining choices including:
Serving craft beer in a rustic atmosphere since 1898, the pub's regular patrons come for the casual vibe and nibble on the famous buffalo wings.
Open for lunch and dinner and specializes in New England-style lobster rolls and fried seafood in a casual setting.
American fare, fresh seafood and great appetizers. Take your pick of seating in a formal dining room, lively pub or outside on the deck.
SBC Restaurant & Beer Hall
Enjoy the neighborhood bar groove with handmade cocktails, local craft beer and farm-fresh American dishes at the end of the Wepawaug River.
Dockside Seafood & Grill
Located at Safe Harbor Marina at Bruce & Johnson's. Casual nautical atmosphere with extensive menu of seafood, pasta, and lots more.
Stony Creek Brewery
Head all the way up river and dock at the brewery for craft brews with a view, cocktails and hot pizza.
Experience casual waterfront dining on a large patio on the Branford River with a good grilled seafood menu mixed with SoCal and classic New England cuisine, topped off with craft cocktails.
Located right on the water in Clinton Harbor, it's rumored by Yankee Magazine to have the best lobster roll in New England.
Known for its classic New England seafood and steak dishes, plus a nice waterfront view.
Located at the site of the former BOOM restaurant at Pilot's Point Marina and specializes in hot buttered lobster rolls, fish tacos, hamburgers and more.
A short walk or dinghy ride brings you to Bill's at the Singing Bridge. The seafood shack serves fried fish, lobster rolls and chowder on an outdoor deck. Kids love to throw French fries to the gulls and ducks.
Enjoy fine dining of locally sourced produce, seafood and meats at the Saybrook Point Resort & Marina for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Note: Head up the Connecticut River to discover other interesting restaurants such as The Griswold Inn in Essex and The Blue Oar in Haddam where you can BYOB, tablecloth and candles.
Locals love this classic destination for seafood take out with picnic tables on the water.
On the Waterfront Restaurant & Bar
Relax in casual elegance while dining on Italian-influenced seafood and steaks with stellar views of the Thames River.
Muddy Waters Cafe
Come here for coffees, baked goods, and breakfast or lunch options. It's home of the famous Love Salad, a generous Italian antipasto-type salad with garlic bread. Closest access by water is at the dinghy dock by the town moorings.
Note: Visit the eastern end where Long Island Sound meets Fisher's Island Sound. In Fisher's Island Sound, head up the Mystic River to find Abbott's Lobster in the Rough, Red 36 and lots of restaurants in downtown Mystic by the Bascule Bridge. Also explore Stonington's many culinary offerings including Breakwater and Dog Watch Café.
“What do we do with a drunken leprechaun? Early in the morning!”
The same way mysteries of mischievous leprechauns in Irish folklore have transcended through time, the original recipe for this drink is also a mystery. A few variations of this St. Patty’s-themed cocktail are served in local pubs, but most of them include its most important ingredient — good ol’ Irish whiskey. Like a fun twist on the Irish Screwdriver, check out our favorite version of this green concoction.
2 oz Irish Whiskey
1 oz Blue Curaçao
3-4 oz orange juice
Fill a cocktail glass with ice and add whiskey, Blue Curaçao and orange juice. Stir well and garnish with a fresh orange wedge.
This drink is not Irish, but its green color makes for a perfect St. Patty’s Day drink to enjoy at sea. Using the same ingredients but replacing whiskey with tequila, try another easy twist on the classic recipe for a Tequila Sunrise. Sail off toward the horizon while enjoying this beachy beverage.
2 oz Blanco Tequila
1 oz Blue Curaçao
3-4 oz orange juice
1 lime and 1 orange wedge
Fill a cocktail glass with ice and add tequila, Blue Curaçao and orange juice. Stir well and garnish with a fresh lime and orange wedge.
For the salty sailor who could use a sweet kick on V-day, this sweet yet tart drink is perfect for your anti-Valentine’s Day party. This ocean-inspired twist on the classic margarita also makes for a perfect waterside cocktail.
1 ½ oz blanco tequila
1 oz Blue Curaçao
¾ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
Splash of orange juice
1 lime and 1 orange wedge
For a salted rim, fill a small plate with lime juice and swirl your glass rim in it, then dip it into a plate of margarita salt and fill your glass with ice. In a separate cocktail shaker with a light amount of ice, pour in tequila, Blue Curaçao, lime juice and a splash of orange juice. Shake thoroughly and strain into your glass and garnish with a lime or orange.
Also known as “The Isaac,” this romantic red drink was created by original Love Boat cast member Ted Lange, who played Isaac the bartender. Inspired by his signature bright red jacket mixed with the show’s sweet theme, the delicious libation is a perfect Valentine’s Day cocktail for boat lovers.
2 oz white rum
2 oz pomegranate syrup
½ oz fresh lime juice
Splash of club soda
2 pineapple leaf spears
Fill highball glass with ice. In separate cocktail shaker, fill with ice, white rum, pomegranate syrup and lime juice. Shake and strain into highball glass and top it with a splash of club soda. Garnish with a fresh lime slice and two pineapple spears.
*Check out a special segment from Princess Cruises where actor Ted Lange gives a demo of the Love Boat cocktail that debuted on the cruise line in 2015.
In my quest for the best Caribbean Rum, I’ve sampled a few. From Appleton to Ron Zacapa rum, my tastebuds have celebrated the luscious flavors borne from fermenting sugarcane into smooth amber elixirs.
In the pursuit of rum perfection, I’ve noticed that a well-designed label can give clues about what awaits inside the bottle. Many simply present the distiller’s name and location where a rum derives its unique flavors. But it’s hard to resist the image of a crusty old captain, pirate ship or sassy sea wench when pouring a hefty splash into a tumbler.
Curious rum aficionados like myself are always eager to hear the back story behind the libation in our hand. Like a slice of pineapple or lime wedged upon the rim of a glass, the history of a rum’s journey from the Caribbean to our lips can make a cocktail taste even sweeter.
I recently stumbled upon the extraordinary tale that intertwines Jamaican rum, world- class musicians and James Bond. To fully appreciate this unique saga, follow my lead and shake up a GoldenEye Cocktail (see recipe below) to sip while the story unfolds.
Our story begins in 1939, when a London journalist named Ian Fleming joined the British Navy Intelligence Service. His unit specialized in military espionage and covert plans to thwart German aggression in Europe and the Caribbean.
During World War II, Fleming was engaged in Operation GoldenEye, and in 1942 he was sent to investigate suspicions about Nazi submarines in the Caribbean. During this deployment, he became enamored with Jamaica and vowed to live there some day.
When the war was over, Fleming returned to Jamaica and bought 15 acres of plush land that was once used as a donkey racetrack. In 1945, he built a house not far from the banana port town of Oracabessa Bay, and the seaside property became Fleming’s tropical sanctuary where he could focus on writing and the discrete task of taking previously tight-held secrets into a public, fictional genre.
He named the estate GoldenEye as a tribute to his Navy service and began working on a book that evolved around the dashing spy and Special Agent 007, James Bond. This protagonist would emerge as the amalgamation of agents he’d met during his maritime service. As an avid birdwatcher, Fleming took the name for his lead character from American ornithologist James Bond, an expert on Caribbean birds, who wrote the definitive field guide, Birds of the West Indies.
Fleming’s first spy novel, Casino Royale, was published in 1952. This book and all 13 in the James Bond series were written in his bedroom at GoldenEye. Three of them — Dr. No, Live and Let Die, and The Man with the Golden Gun — take place in Jamaica.
Not only did the breezy island life at GoldenEye inspire Fleming’s novels, but so did his fetching neighbor, Blanche Blackwell. She was the muse who helped spark his creative drive. The Blackwell family had lived in Jamaica since 1625, exporting bananas and coconuts and crafting a distinctive brand of rum.
Blanche’s son Chris Blackwell grew up between England and Jamaica, and in his childhood spent a good amount of time with Fleming. In 1954, after Blackwell got booted from an elite British school for rebellious behavior, he came back to the island to get involved in the family rum business. Contrary to plan, he followed his instincts and made a career choice that would dramatically alter the global music scene.
For a while, he kicked around working as the aide-de-camp to the governor and as a waterskiing instructor. But after hearing the blind pianist Lance Heywood play at the Half Moon Resort, Blackwell recorded the musician, and in 1959 he launched a music studio called Island Records. In sync with his unconventional style, it became known for discovering and nurturing innovative performers who had been shrugged off or overlooked by bigger record labels.
Island Records introduced the world outside of the Caribbean to Bob Marley and the Wailers and Jamaican reggae music, showcasing island culture and universal struggles of indigenous people. It launched British bands such as Traffic, Bad Company, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Roxy Music, King Crimson and Fairport Convention. It also cultivated artists such as Cat Stevens, Brian Eno, Grace Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Tom Waits and the Irish band, U2.
Throughout his success in the music industry, Blackwell remained in contact with Fleming and his projects. When the first Bond movie, Dr. No, was filmed in Jamaica in 1962, Blackwell was hired as a location scout and consulted on the soundtrack. Sir Sean Connery, whom Blackwell had met during the filming of Dr. No, remained a friend until his passing in 2020. Using a family recipe, Blackwell launched his boutique rum in 2008 that is distributed around the globe.
Live and Let Die was filmed in 1973 on the Blackwell Estate, which now includes The Fleming Villa. Scenes from the movie were shot near GoldenEye, Blackwell’s luxury hotel in Jamaica. The latest Bond flick, No Time to Die, returns to the exquisite Jamaican backdrop of GoldenEye, and the production team was treated to a supply of Blackwell Rum for inspiration while filming.
TO CELEBRATE 60 YEARS OF JAMES BOND, a special bottle of Blackwell Rum has been released, along with a new memoir by Chris Blackwell, The Islander: My Life in Music and Beyond. If you’re cruising around Jamaica this winter, cue up some Bob Marley tunes, open a bottle of Blackwell’s 007 Rum, and shake it (don’t stir) with pineapple juice and ice to create the GoldenEye Cocktail. And if you’re nestled in at home in a colder climate and dreaming about the Caribbean, we suggest watching a Bond flick and warming up with the Toasted Toddy.
-1 part Blackwell Rum
-1 part pineapple juice
-Lime or pineapple wedge
Shake together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime or pineapple wedge
-3 parts Blackwell Rum
-2 teaspoons brown sugar
-1 1⁄2 parts fresh lemon juice
-6 parts boiling water
Add all ingredients to a mug, except for the water. Pour in the boiling water, Stir well to blend
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