New England-Style Seafood on the Connecticut Shore
Michael Lomonaco and David Emil of Windows on the World fame serve up fried clam bellies, smoky clam chowder, jumbo lump crabmeat cakes and fluffy cheesecake.
It’s a saturday night, and the Shore House is hopping. It may be the dead of winter on Shippan Point in Stamford, but it feels like we’re sitting in one of Cape Cod’s most popular seafood joints in July.
It isn’t just the energy of the jean-clad crowd. It’s the views of water and boats from every table, the smell of the golden fried clam bellies whizzing by on trays, the red vinyl tablecloths and the informal, shoreline-inspired dÃ©cor.
It is no happy accident that the menu is a perfect fit for the ambience. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. This location, well known in its previous incarnation as the Rusty Scupper, was, for a short while, an outpost of the Manhattan restaurant Beacon. Restaurateurs David Emil and Michael Lomonaco (of Windows on the World fame) may finally have found this large, airy bi-level restaurant’s real calling as a casual New England style clam house.
The menu takes classics like New England clam chowder, crab cakes, fried clams, Maine lobster, fish and chips and generally tweaks the traditional preparations just enough to add interest—but not so much that they lose their identity.
More often than not, these riffs work. I would go back for another platter heaped with those golden, crispy, meaty fried clam bellies, served with a mustardy tartar sauce far less sweet—and, dare I say—a better fit for the clams than traditional tartar sauce made with relish.
Other departures seem a little silly. While we enjoyed the smoky, bacon laden clam chowder, the presentation seemed pretentious: We were brought a bowl filled with the potatoes, clams, bacon and other solids and the server poured the rich creamy broth over them in front of us. Why?
A crab cake wisely eschewed the ubiquitous bread filling that detracts from crab flavor and was instead held together by invisible culinary magic. All we tasted and saw was pure jumbo lump crabmeat.
Each night of the week has its own special, and on Saturday, the non-seafood lovers in your party should certainly go for the Carolina Surf and Turf: an enormous, juicy and tender double cut pork chop accompanied by barbecued shrimp and a slew of delicious sides (sweet corn bread, celery root slaw and pickled beets). It’s more food than most humans can consume in a single sitting. In fact, all the dishes were generously portioned at the Shore House.
As good as some of the food was, there were also a couple of seriously troubled dishes. Fish and Chips tasted like the beer in the batter and oil—nothing else. The fried fish was soggy and laden with grease, and the coating too thick for us to taste any fish at all.
Lemon meringue pie was also problematic. We literally could not cut through the astoundingly thick crust with our forks. But all was forgiven with my first bite of fluffy cheesecake. My New York-born dining companions want theirs dense and thick, but this heavenly delight was what I, a native New Englander, call real cheesecake.
The Shore House also offers a children’s menu (and clearly makes kids feel at home) and a host of don’t-miss-’em sides, like the roasted garlic and potato hash. This reasonably priced, comfortable restaurant may have a few kinks to work out, but it is overall just the sort of place you’ll love having near you.
183 Harbor Dr., Stamford, CT
Tue. – Thurs. 5-10 pm
Fri. and Sat. 5-11 pm
Sun. 5-9 pm
Entrees: $16-$24 (2 lb. lobster $39)