Seafood Dining in Connecticut – is there anything more mouthwatering? When you are trapped in your car on I95 trying to get to your favorite restaurant, that can be frustrating. But – we’re boat owners! We can just drop the hook, hop in the dink, and paddle up to the dock. To this end, we’ve created a Facebook Group where thoughts on this topic can be shared. While this new group ramps up, we thought we’d share some of our favorite Dock and Dine restaurants close to the marinas in which we work along the Connecticut River and western Long Island Sound.
The Griswold Inn, Essex – Our hometown of Essex has a rich maritime history and has welcomed mariners for centuries. Today it offers anchorage, marinas, and The Griswold Inn. Known the world over for excellent dining and historic accommodations, The Gris is just a one-block walk from the water’s edge. The Tap Room is a must-visit.
Black Seal Seafood Grille, Essex – Recently re-opened after an extended closure due to fire and smoke damage, great food in a casual environment can once again be found at the Black Seal. A pleasant three-block walk up Main Street from the local marinas, The Black Seal is a salty sailor’s choice with decor to match.
Carlson’s Landing, Essex – A transient slip at an Essex Marina, such as Dauntless Marina will provide access to Carlson’s Landing. Overlooking the Connecticut River and the River Museum, Carlson’s Landing – opened in 2019 by Cafe Routier founder Robert Rabine – offers seasonally and geographically inspired seafood, steaks, and farm-to-table American cuisine.
Siren Kitchen and Bar, Essex – Located on Essex Island, and one of the shortest ferry rides you’d ever take from Ferry Street, Siren is new but destined to become a mariner’s favorite. Casual seaside favorites, salads, chowders, and frozen custard. The corn fritters are worth the price of admission. Boaters can easily access Siren from Safe Harbor Essex Island marina.
The Blue Oar Restaurant, Haddam – A favorite stop for Connecticut River boaters, the Blue Oar – located within Midway Marina – offers shaded outside dining, a wide variety of superb deserts, a short-order menu that delights, and a signature Mandarin salad worth the boat ride in and of itself. It’s a BYOB stop so bring your favorite beverage or wine, and fancy table settings to make it a memorable occasion.
The Gelston House, East Haddam – Stroll across the East Haddam Swing Bridge from Andrews Marina to find The Gelston House, where New England meets the Mississippi Delta. Highlights include Chorizo Baked Oysters, Parmesan Cod, and the New Orleans Shrimp and Grits. Weekend brunch on the patio is also amazing.
Rustica Ristorante, Chester – Docked or Moored in Chester – perhaps at the Chester Boat Basin – and looking for a nice Italian dinner? Then Rustica Ristorante is right up your alley. You’ll find all the traditional Italian favorites here, featuring poultry, beef, pork, and seafood options. The sauteed shrimp and clams casino appetizers are personal favorites. Be forewarned – if you are on a boat, you will need to arrange a ride to get to this place.
Fresh Salt, Old Saybrook – Located in the Saybrook Point Marina, this upscale spot at the mouth of the Connecticut River offers wonderful views of Fenwick and the Long Island Sound. A local favorite, their menu – driven by locally sourced farm and fish ingredients – changes with the seasons. Our favorites include the Monir’s seared scallops and a cioppino that transports one to the Med.
Liv’s Shack, Old Saybrook – Located in Harbor One Marina, Liv’s Shack is an additional summertime location of the famous Liv’s Oyster Bar in downtown Old Saybrook. They specialize in Hot Lobster Rolls, Fish Tacos, great burgers, and, of course, a variety of local oysters. Their Old Bay french fries are also amazing.
Bill’s Seafood, Westbrook – For many boaters, Bill’s is a summer mecca here in Connecticut. For year-round residents, it’s a go-to seafood spot that never disappoints. The seafood bisque is unparalleled and if you favor fried fish – this is the spot. Great live music and the daily happy hour keeps the place packed between lunch and dinner.
Dad’s Restaurant, Niantic – For over 50 years, Dad’s Restaurant – located adjacent to Port Niantic marina – has been serving typical New England seafood favorites to boaters and beachgoers alike. This seasonal spot is great for families, fried seafood, and casual indoor and outdoor dining. They serve both Connecticut (warm buttered) and Maine (cold with mayo) lobster rolls.
Captain Scott’s, New London – Located in Shaw Cove, across from Crocker’s Boat Yard, Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock – owned by a former lobsterman turned restaurateur – has been offering Hot Buttered lobster rolls, both New England and Rhode Island clam chowder, clam fritters and other seafood favorites for over two decades. Casual and comfortable Red 36/Mystic
Red 36, Mystic – Located directly on the Mystic River (dockage available) and across the river from Fort Rachel Marina, Red 36 is an upscale “New England Coast” restaurant offering fresh seafood, an extensive raw bar, flatbread pizza, and burgers for hungry mariners. We love the happy hour “buck a shuck” oysters, street tacos, and seafood paella.
One final word – as with all Connecticut Shoreline restaurants, reservations are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED on the weekends so call ahead so as not to be disappointed. Tell us about your favorite Connecticut Shoreline restaurant.