Boston Restaurant Blog -- February, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
We took another trip to Connecticut and New York City over the past weekend, stopping at several decent restaurants along the way. We headed down from Boston on Saturday, dining at two restaurants that have been featured on Boston's Hidden Restaurants already, so I won't get into too much detail here. But both the Silvermine Tavern (lunch) in Norwalk, CT, and Focacceria (dinner) in Greenwich Village, NY, were simply terrific dining experiences that got the trip off to a good start. After Focacceria, we ambled over to the White Horse Tavern in the West Village for a drink (the White Horse Tavern is a classic literary pub where Dylan Thomas drank 18 shots of whiskey (resulting in his death) in 1953. After the White Horse Tavern, we took a cab to the East Village where we enjoyed some outstanding Belgian ale at an odd little place called Burp Castle (yes, that is the actual name of the place).
We were staying in Lower Manhattan for the weekend (at the little-known but outstanding New York Marriott Financial Center on West Street), which gave us the opportunity to try little neighborhood restaurants that have recovered from the September 11 attacks. George's Restaurant, which is at the corner of Rector Street and Greenwich Street, was just one of many businesses affected by 9/11, and actually had to close for three years because the building it was in had been severely damaged. They are back open now, and are serving locals, businesspeople, and tourists alike from their restored Lower Manhattan diner. It was fairly quiet there Sunday morning, and we grabbed a table by the window without having to wait. The breakfast was very good, as the pancakes were hearty and fresh, the home fries were done more like hash browns and were delicious, and the scrambled eggs were firm and tasty.
After breakfast we spent some time inside the spectacular Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan, then wandered through the canyon-like streets of the neighborhood. Soon we found ourselves back in Greenwich Village, where we stopped at Arturo's for lunch. Arturo's, which is at the corner of West Houston Street and Thompson Street, is a bit of an institution, and though we arrived just as they were opening up the kitchen, it was packed within a few minutes, and for good reason; the New York-style pizza at Arturo's was wonderful, with a slightly burnt crust from the coal-fired oven, tangy sauce, and lots of fresh cheese on top. The place itself is classic New York, with pictures of Lou Costello and other celebrities from long ago adorning the walls, a tiny area where jazz musicians crank out some great music, and a rest room that for some reason has a bathtub in it. As they say, only in New York!
After Arturo's we wandered up to Herald Square for a bit, then headed back to Lower Manhattan, where three of us eventually found our way over to Moran's, an Irish pub on Washington Street that, like George's, had been greatly affected by 9/11. Moran's somehow survived the attack with little or no damage, and on the side wall of this charming pub are chilling photos and newspaper articles showing the horrendous destruction that came to this part of Manhattan. It was a humbling feeling dining at Moran's, knowing what they must have gone through, but I am certainly glad we found this place, as the people were friendly and funny, the food was excellent (the salmon wellington, shepherd's pie, and turkey dinner were all delicious), and the environment was homey and comfortable. Moran's resides in what used to be a church, so the atmosphere is definitely appealing. Out of all the meals I had on our trip to New York, Moran's was perhaps the most memorable; I definitely hope to get back there soon.
Monday morning we stopped once again at George's Restaurant for breakfast (good food once again, though the service was very slow this time), then headed out, eventually reaching the Merritt Parkway once again. We were in the Bridgeport vicinity around lunchtime, so we pulled off the road and went over to a roadside burger and hot dog joint on Main Street called the Merritt Canteen. Though the Merritt Canteen does have burgers as well as other sandwiches, they pretty much specialize in hot dogs; they have everything from a plain dog to an extra spicy chili dog, a red hot dog that is spicy without the benefit of chili, and something called a brutal dog, which is a red hot dog with chili. I went with the extra spicy chili dog, which was plenty hot enough for me. The hot dog was your typical high-quality brand that is often found in this part of Connecticut, and the chili had the seeds of hot peppers mixed in. It was a terrific hot dog; the burger, however, was middling at best.
Another trip to New York City is in the books, but I am hoping to go yet again in March, at least for one night, anyway. If so, I have a couple of places in mind, namely Bubby's, a breakfast place in Tribeca, and Lombardi's, a pizza place in Little Italy. For now, though, it's lots of rest and relaxation (and a boatload of Tums!) in Boston for me for awhile.
Hello, I see that you have been to the Merritt Canteen on your drives through CT. Well the current management/owners of the Merritt Canteen have only been running it for the last four or five years. The former family that ran it had split away from the current owners. Reasons being they had various differences. The McPadden family operated the Merritt restaurant for over fifty years. Ray McPadden was the original Canteen guy. Soon the family opened two new CANTEEN restaurants in Monroe, CT and in Milford, CT. The restaurants are called MR. MAC'S CANTEEN......They have a similar menu as their old place (Merritt). It is run by the McPadden family. They have been listed as one of the TOP TEN places to get a hotdog by epicurious.com. Check it out on one of your journeys. By the way I am one of the McPaddens. Thanks and keep up the great BLOG..... Jeff McPadden/Mr. Mac's Canteen GO RED SOX 2007
Posted on 8/8/07
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