Connie and Ted’s
8171 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Dining date: 8/4/13
Connie & Ted’s was one of the most anticipated restaurant openings in LA this year, opened in June. Having made a name for himself at downtown’s Water Grill and his Michelin two-starred Providence, Michael Cimarusti’s name has become synonymous with high-quality seafood in the fine dining space. With Connie & Ted’s, Cimarusti takes his upscale cooking background and relationships with high-quality purveyors into a more casual, more approachable restaurant inspired by New England seafood shacks.
A big fan of Cimarusti’s, I’ve been wanting to try Connie & Ted’s ever since it opened and finally got a chance during a weekend lunch with Cathy. The lunch menu is a more condensed version of the dinner menu, still offering a pretty wide selection of simple seafood favorites. We ordered a sampling of five items from the savory side of the menu, saving room for dessert.
Cimarusti’s a noted fan of hoppy india pale ale beers and it’s reflected on the drink menu (there is a full bar too). I eagerly ordered one of my personal favorites – it’s always nice enjoying a cold IPA on a sunny summer afternoon.
STUFFIES linguiça, garlic, butter, breadcrumbs
The first bite into our stuffed clams yielded a mushy interior with bright sausage and clam flavor. I wanted more of a crispy texture from the breadcrumb topping though.
NANCY’S PEEKY TOE CRAB CAKE cole slaw, tartar sauce
We got the textural contrast in this crab cake, but it still left us wanting more. It may have been slightly overcooked (being rather thin) and we were looking for bigger chunks of crab for more of that sweet, fresh flavor in each bite.
FRIED CLAMS with bellies, tartar sauce, fries
These clams were well-fried, slightly chewy, with a tasty clam flavor. I was expecting more moisture/juiciness with the bellies included, though.
LOBSTER ROLL hot with drawn butter, french fries
Next came a delicious lobster roll, nicely toasted with warm buttery chunks of sweet meat. It offered pretty much everything we were expecting in some of the most satisfying bites of the meal.
HERB CRUSTED SEA BASS onion rings
For our last savory course, we tried one of the fish from the grilled catch of the day. This sea bass, with an herb crust, had a nice herb flavor and imbued smokiness. The dense fish didn’t have a ton of moisture, but I wouldn’t call it dry either. The onion rings, fried in tempura batter, were quite good.
STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE
I often don’t like rhubarb pie, but I liked this one. The crust was addicting, synchronizing harmoniously with the sweet rhubarb filling. A little bit of whipped cream added just a bit more richness.
BLONDIE vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce
This beauty tasted as good as it looked. The warm blondie, vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce were delicious both individually and altogether.
INDIAN PUDDING classic new england cornmeal and molasses pudding with vanilla ice cream
While this pudding didn’t look quite as good as the other desserts, it wasn’t short on taste. Molasses and spice flavors came through in this creamy mixture – vanilla ice cream was an ideal topping to balance the flavors. A little bit different and very good.
Our meal at Connie & Ted’s disappointed from the savory perspective but shined in the desserts department. Having spent very limited time in the Northeast dining at the type of casual seafood spots that Connie & Ted’s is inspired by, I feel like I can’t be overly critical. However, given Cimarusti’s resume and specialty with seafood, the food didn’t have the same precision in execution I’d come to expect. I would probably return at some point to give the restaurant another try (perhaps for the expanded dinner menu), but I’m not in a hurry.