This has been a really difficult post to write. We’d been waiting to eat at Connie and Ted’s since it opened, after all, it IS a Michael Cimarusti restaurant and getting a reservation is no easy feat. However, our experienced was a very mixed one which has been weighing heavily on my heart as I write this.
This casual seafood restaurant serving a menu of all-American favorites is named after Cimarusti’s grandparents, and according to Connie and Ted’s website, pays homage to the English-born couple’s love of fishing together off the shores of New England. I was glad there were eight of us so there was no shortage of food on our menu that evening. In fact, there was a lot of food, some we loved, some we did not. Naturally, a meal with this many people isn’t complete without some cocktails to kick things off.
Between us, there were a selection of libations including (from left) Endless Summer ($12) coconut-infused demerara rum, becherovka, pineapple puree, lemon juice, angostura bitters; Born In East LA ($12) reposado tequila, tamarind, lime, Mexican mole bitters, hellfire bitters, soda; Little Sicily ($12) white rye, cynar, dry vermouth; Briar Patch ($12) London dry gin, lavender blackberry coulis, rye, marionberry liqueur, lime, soda. Take a guess which one I had several of.
Our dinner began with Stuffies ($9/2pcs), one of my favorites of the evening. These clams were topped with bits of linguica, garlic, butter and breadcrumbs and browned in a broiler and when you spoon it out, you will get a plump, tender clam with rich flavors and crunchy bits to finish. A perfect umami-filled mouthful you will want more of.
Jo’s Wicked Good Chowda’ ($6 cup/$9 bowl/$11 sampling) offers up three different types: New England, Manhattan and Rhode Island Clear. Not surprising, the Asians at the table loved the clear over the others, which is reflective of the soups in our culture.
I’m not a big salad fan, but Smoked Albacore ($16) is presented as such and not as a salad even though there is a hefty portion of arugula, butternut squash and walnuts all tossed in a smoked lemon vinaigrette.
I’ve had my share of lobster rolls last year and this particular Lobster Roll ($24) is served either hot or cold and is accompanied by drawn butter or mayonnaise respectively. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a lobster roll which stood out even though the lobster itself was sweet and tender.
My son had The Bacon Hook Burger ($15) and I’ll take his word for it that it was really good. Topped with Nueske’s bacon, Hook’s 4 year cheddar, pickles, onion, lettuce and 1000 island dressing, it sounds rather good for those who aren’t into seafood but came along anyway.
I wasn’t able to partake in Angels On Horseback ($12/3pcs or $18/5pcs) due to the oysters, however, my chef friend seated next to me insisted I taste the sauce which was lightly creamed and umami-filled! If I recall, these were oysters wrapped with bacon and baked, but please confirm with your server for the exact ingredients.
Nancy’s Peeky Toe Crabcake ($14) was decent, but didn’t wow. It was definitely light and not overly fiddled with and served with coleslaw and tartar sauce. I think Fishing With Dynamite has ruined it for me when it comes to crabcakes!
If you’re a fan of Fried Calamari ($10), then by all means get an order of these as well — with marinara or sauce figaro….
…. Or, I preferred the Grilled Calamari ($12) served in a skillet with San Marzano tomatoes, garlic breadcrumbs and arugula.
Another of my favorites was Josephine’s Clam Cakes ($18/dozen). These hush puppy-like fritters are dotted with clams and simply incredible. They were awesome on their own but you can also dip it in the accompanying tartar sauce.
Another was Live New Bedford Scallop ($23) grilled in its shell with lemon and salted butter. It was so tender and umami-filled I wish I had an entire one instead of sharing, but definitely pricey!
I’m a big fan of cioppino and bouillabaise so when I saw the description for Shellfish Marinara ($16), I knew I wanted it. You can choose between Manila clams or mussels or a combination of both, all combined together with a very piquant marinara sauce served with grilled bread.
We also ordered Ed’s Portuguese Fish Stew ($22) which turned out to be very similar except there was fish (hake) and linguica as well as the Manila clams and mussels. I preferred this more than the previous one because it was a little more complex in flavors.
Unless you’re dying to have fish and chips, Joanne’s Fish and Chips ($21) is a give or take with me. It was just okay and nothing to write home about, but the fish is great quality, I just didn’t care much for the batter.
We also ordered Wild White Mexican Shrimp ($25) which I wouldn’t recommend. The shrimp were grilled with lemon herb beurre blanc but there was a really strong taste of something synthetic we were all getting from them. Some said it tasted like gasoline/butane while others couldn’t put a finger on anything specific.
The Catch of the Day (market price) was another item I don’t recommend. I can’t remember what kind of fish it was, but it was a white fish prepared either with an herb crust or with herb oil and lemon, we opted for the latter. The fish wasn’t anything special, a little bland even and really did not stand out among all the others. I would totally recommend skipping this as well.
Some of the sides were ordered as well such as Hot Buttered Rolls ($5) served in a skillet and is scorching when it hits the table. It’s great slathered with butter, but they were similar in texture to Hawaiian rolls which I’m not a fan of.
The Weiser’s French Fingerlings ($5) were okay, again, not worth bothering with when there are so many other things to try.
We also shared two desserts but neither were stand-outs enough for me to want to write about them. Connie and Ted’s is worth a visit if only for the experience itself. The restaurant is unique and the cocktails delicious. Order a few items to share and call it a night. Just be prepared in advance that it won’t be a cheap meal.
Connie and Ted’s
8171 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046