PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2016, and while it should still give you a good overview of the experience, it is also possible that it may contain some outdated information. Please check their website for the most current information, especially about things like hours and menu pricing.
Well, I don’t know about you but I am ready for this holiday weekend, my friends. Having both kiddos home (practically) full time these last three weeks since school let out has been exhausting. How did I do this last year? (And the year before and the year before and the year before?) I feel like as the kids get older life just keeps getting busier. More and more fun, of course. But BUSY 🙂
Which is why I love finding places like the one I’m going to tell you about today. Great, low-key hangouts where you can relax and reconnect. The kind of place that’s special enough to bring your out-of-town guests (or in this case, draft your mother-in-law to help wrangle the kids while you take pictures for a blog post–thanks, Nana!) but also perfect for an impromptu family outing. And although it feels like a beach getaway, it’s really just down the road.
Shad Row is a relative newcomer on the central CT restaurant scene. But what makes it super special for families with kids is that it’s located right at the dock for the Rocky Hill/Glastonbury ferry. Which means that as you sit and enjoy your lunch, you can watch the ferry go back and forth across the Connecticut River. Or, that you can incorporate a ferry ride into your outing. Either way, it’s a fun experience for grownups and kids alike.
Shad Row is located just across from Ferry Park in Rocky Hill, CT. There’s plenty of parking.
Most of the tables are located up on this bi-level deck. You need to wait to be seated (you can also order from the window to go if you wanted to have a picnic in the park instead). Another important piece of information: this establishment is CASH ONLY. And if you are going for the high ticket items (lobster rolls, whole belly clam rolls) you could easily run up a hefty tag, so bring plenty. There is an ATM available if you forget though.
We got there a little early for lunch on a weekday (around 11:30) and had no trouble getting a table. It did start to get pretty busy by the time we left though. It would be difficult to get a stroller up here what with all the stairs and the stones that cover the ground on the second level, but they do have a high chair available if you need it. This would also be a great place for one of those clip-on chairs since this upper level is all picnic tables.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to snag one of the tables at the edge of the deck with a clear river view, but folks didn’t seem to mind my kiddos hanging out by the railing in between their tables to watch the boats. That’s just the kind of place this is 🙂
We saw the ferry, of course, but also jet skis and other small boats go by. That was very exciting for these little guys!
Later, I discovered that there are actually a couple tables right down near the ferry dock that receive table service (I has mistakenly thought those were just for take-out). Not only do you get the view of the river there, but there’s a cute grassy area with some lawn games, plus you’d have no problem with a stroller here.
As you’ve probably guessed, this place is very casual. So it’s great for families. I mean, where else can I feel totally comfortable letting my almost 3-year-old do this:
Yup. On the table. Under the table. Standing next to other people’s tables (watching the boats). It’s pretty laid-back around here 🙂
I love that Shad Row has their whole menu online including prices. Don’t you hate it when a restaurant’s website tells you what they have to eat but not how much it will cost you? I mean, could you imagine Amazon not listing the prices until after you’d already ordered your products? I don’t think so. So I’m always happy to find all the info ahead of time (especially for a place that’s cash only.) And it even looks exactly like the hard copy you’ll get at the restaurant.
Now that my big guy is a full-fledged reader, he was only too happy to read out the menu choices to his little (not-yet-literate) brother. Love it 🙂
Of course I had to order the lobster roll. I think the market price made it around $24. Yes, that is a pricey lobster roll. But it is a BIG lobster roll. And it came with two side items (I chose delicious sweet potato fries and coleslaw, but regular fries, onion rings and potato salad are other choices).
And because it was important to test all the delicacies here (don’t I have a super tough job? Ha!), I may have pressured my MIL into ordering the whole belly clam roll (she was really unhappy about that, by the way 🙂 ).
Just look at that towering mass of deliciousness. Mmmmm.
The kids’ meals were kiddo-approved. Chicken nuggets and chips (and lemonade) for the big guy.
Grilled cheese and fries for my little
And if you didn’t already have an inkling that this place pretty much defines the word “casual” when it comes to eateries, here are all the table accessories. On the table. In a bucket. Love it.
Meanwhile, the breeze is blowing, the umbrellas are casting a lovely shade, the boats are floating by and the sound of steel drums is wafting from the speakers. Wait, where are we again?
After lunch, we walked down to the dock and watched the ferry go back and forth. As I mentioned earlier, a ferry ride would be a fun addition to this outing. (And lucky for you, Mandy has already written a post about that!).
Now, I do have one bit of bad news. Here it is.
See those portapotties over there in the park? Yeah. That’s the “bathroom.” I won’t pretend that I wasn’t a little shocked when I asked where the restroom was and our server pointed to those portapotties all the way across the parking lot. I always thought that a sit down restaurant was required to have a bathroom (especially if they’re going to be serving you gallons of lemonade on a hot day!), but I guess not, right? I have to say, I never concerned myself so much with bathrooms before I had children, but now with two kids in tow (and especially with one who is potty training), sometimes the difference between a fun family outing and a stressful situation is as simple as a functional restroom. So you’ve been forewarned. Make sure everyone goes potty before you leave the house! 🙂
In any event, the lack of “facilities” was not enough to put a damper on our carefree-one-love-every-little-thing-gonna-be-alright kind of day. So if you can’t find the time in your schedule for a trip to the shore, at least you can infuse mealtime with a little extra sunshine.
Have a great July 4th weekend everyone!
Tuesday: 11AM – 4PM
Wednesday: 11AM – 4PM
Thursday: 11AM – 9PM
Friday: 11AM – 9PM
Saturday: 11AM – 9PM
Sunday: 11AM – 8PM
Menu items range in price from around $4 (cup of chowder) to around $25 (lobster roll), with many items falling in the $10-$12 range. Kids meals are $7.95 and include chips or fries and a drink. (Pricing from 2016 menu.)
- Stroller Friendly: YES and NO. There are a couple of tables down by the dock that you could wheel a stroller to, but the rest of the restaurant is up stairs and has a stone (as in lots of loose rocks) floor.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: Hmmm. That’s a good question. It’s so laid back there, I imagine no one would care if you brought in your own coffee. Heck, they let you bring in your own booze.
- Baby Changing Station: NO.
- Restrooms: Just a couple of portapotties all the way across in the park.
- Parking: YES.
- Food for Sale: Well, duh.
- Outside Food Allowed: BYOB anytime!
- Cash Required: YES. Cash only. There is an ATM on the premises.
- Dress Code: Dress for al fresco dining (it’s all outdoor seating; there are umbrellas at all the tables).
- Age Recommendation: All ages.
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES.
- Discounts: None that we know of.
- Birthday Party Venue: N/A
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