PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2012, and while it should still give you a good idea of the overall experience, it may also contain some outdated information. Please be sure to check their website for the most current information, especially about things like hours and menu items.
When you live in New England, summertime is synonymous with lobster boils and clambakes. And it seems like every restaurant suddenly boasts a lobster roll on their menu for the months of May through August.
Well, if you’re looking for the quintessential New England summer dining experience, head out to Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough on the shore in Noank, Connecticut.
Hubby and I discovered Abbott’s more than a decade ago, before the now ubiquitous smart phones and vehicle navigation systems. As we were driving there a few weeks ago (our first visit since we’ve moved back to New England), I couldn’t help wondering how we ever found this place with nothing more than a paper map, the route sketched for us by a friend. I don’t exactly remember being hopelessly lost, but I’m sure we took the “scenic route.”
Apparently, Abbott’s still has a sense of humor about this too:
Today, we were coming from the Mystic Aquarium, which is only minutes away. Fortunately, we are now armed with our trusty iPhones, so getting there was no problem. You won’t miss it because there’s this giant sign right at the entrance to the parking lot.
Turn in and head towards the giant lobster. There are parking areas to the left of that lobster-adorned building, and also in front of it.
Once you’ve parked the car, head towards that red and white awning. That’s where you’ll find the menu and the window where you will place your order.
There are a couple steps leading up to the window, and since we didn’t have our stroller, I wasn’t really looking for a ramp. (You’ll also notice that Boo has refused to wear any shoes; I think this is his latest subversive tactic to ensure that we have to carry him.) Looking back at the pictures I took, I don’t immediately see a ramp, so you may want to have a plan B if you are considering taking your stroller with you. (As a side note, although the order window, pick-up counter, and indoor seating area are elevated, you can certainly wheel a stroller around back to where the outdoor seating is–more on that later.)
After you place your order at the window, you’ll be given a slip with a number on it and told to bring it around to the long red counter. Follow the deck back to the indoor seating area.
Here’s that counter (very clearly marked, as you can see).
We didn’t see any high chairs, but fortunately, Boo is pretty good at sitting in a regular chair these days. Most of the time he sat like this:
But occasionally he sat like this:
You kinda have to go with the flow here, but that’s part of the charm. (When Boo was small, I always wanted to purchase one of those pillowcase baby seats that you can just stuff in your bag and then slip over the back of a chair. I wonder if that would have worked here.)
Hubby and I had only planned on ordering a couple of lobster rolls, but a nice gentleman behind us in line recommended the shrimp and corn chowder. I know hot soup on a hot day doesn’t immediately sound appealing, but trust me. Unless it’s 100 degrees outside, try the shrimp and corn chowder. You won’t be sorry 🙂
Boo really enjoyed the oyster crackers.
Next came Abbott’s “famous” hot lobster rolls, served with coleslaw and chips.
And Boo’s grilled cheese (he’s not so sure about lobster).
I think he liked it 🙂
We sat inside because sans high chair I was afraid the outdoor area would prove too tempting for Boo, especially with its less restrictive picnic tables. If hubby and I are paying $15 a piece for a lobster roll, we kind of want to eat it without having to take breaks to chase Boo around. Can you blame us? But there are plenty of outdoor seating options.
Ironically, it’s out here where we spot the only high chair. Go figure.
Save room for dessert! There are yummy baked items (apple crisp anyone?) and plenty of ice cream (of course).
Before we headed out, I wanted to check out the restroom situation.
Boy, is it narrow in there. You can barely fit your knees let alone a stroller in those stalls!
There’s no changing table either, but I wasn’t really expecting to find one given the high chair situation. The thing is, even though this place lacks some helpful amenities for wee ones, it’s still one of the most family-friendly dining spots you can imagine. It’s so casual and laid-back, it’s almost like hanging out in your own backyard. Only with better food and better views 🙂
Before heading home, I couldn’t resist taking full advantage of my blogger status by insisting that we stop down the road at Costello’s Clam Shack so I could take some pictures (and pick up an order of their delicious clam fritters). To find this hidden gem, follow the road past Abbott’s and keep your eyes peeled for a sign on the left. You’ll turn into a large parking lot with confusing signage that makes it seem like you are not allowed to park there. I’m not sure if that’s really the case or not, but everyone does. That’s pretty much your only option unless you plan to arrive by boat.
Head for the blue and white striped awning in the distance.
Costello’s is a real deal seafood shack. It sits out on a dock. It specializes in deep fried delicacies. And the whole menu fits on one little board outside the order window.
Like up at Abbott’s, you’ll get a number and pick up your grub around the corner in here:
For seating, there are covered and open tables on the first level. And you can also sit up on the upper deck (so long as it isn’t closed for a party).
There are also restrooms down at the end of the building near the parking lot. I gather that it’s a single bathroom because someone was occupying the women’s room when I tried to take a peek (don’t worry, the door was locked; but she still did not seem happy with me that I’d tried to open it. Geesh. How could I have known?).
I got our clam fritters to go because, as I mentioned above, we had been to Mystic Aquarium before heading over to Abbott’s for lunch, and Boo was about to get apoplectic it was so far past his nap time (almost 3:30!). I’m not going to show you a picture of the clam fritters because it’s really hard to make those things look appetizing in a photograph. But let me tell you, they hit the spot. Costello’s serves them with a side of this delicious creamy sauce that I swear has a hint of honey mustard in it.
Filled to the gills with seafood goodness, we headed for the highway. I didn’t care that the calendar said May 29th. In my mind, it was now officially summer 🙂
Where’s your favorite place for a seafood meal?
Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough
117 Pearl Street, Noank, Connecticut 06340
See the menu here.
Get directions here:
Currently open noon until 9:00 p.m. daily (seasonal).
Check their website for more detailed information and a calendar for the entire season.
Costello’s Clam Shack
145 Pearl Street, Noank, Connecticut 06340
See the menu here.
Get directions here:
Currently open from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily through Labor Day.
Tips & Things to Bring:
- Abbott’s is a very family-friendly restaurant, but it lacks some handy amenities like high chairs and a restroom that can accommodate children in strollers. Also, there is no changing station in the restroom. Plan accordingly.
- You may want to consider bringing your own hook on chair, booster seat, etc. if you have very small children who cannot sit in a chair on their own. You can also wheel your stroller around to the outdoor seating areas and let your little one hang out there.
- There is no specific “kids’ menu,” but both Abbott’s and Costello’s offer plenty of non-seafood options that kids will enjoy such as grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, PB & J, and hot dogs.
- Major credit cards accepted (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, AmEx).
- Abbott’s does not accept reservations.
- You can, however, book ahead for group functions with at least 25 people.
- Click here to print a coupon for a free bowl of Abbott’s famous broth-based clam chowder with the purchase of a lobster dinner (good Monday through Thursday only).
- Noank is about an hour from the Hartford area. However, there are plenty of other fun activities like Mystic Aquarium, Mystic Seaport, The Shops at Old Mistick Village, and even some great playgrounds to check out in the area, so you can easily plan a whole day of fun. Visit this site for even more great, kid-friendly ideas.
Next Tuesday Mandy’s giving you a tour of a newly renovated pool facility, and I’ll be back Thursday with our monthly recap of all the fun places we visited in June.
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