Sunday, August 28, 2016

Overton's - Norwalk, CT

So the missus and I got to meet the Sterns last week. Wait - let me back up for a second. I've made many, many references on this blog to the Roadfood website, which has been an indispensable tool for finding reliable and unique cuisine all over this great country, especially when traveling with children (and when you can't possibly handle another stop at Chili's). This definitive guide to "authentic regional eats" began in the early 1970s as the brainchild of Michael and Jane Stern at a time when bona fide field work was required to identify such things; since then, the former couple has moved on to semi-retirement after selling the rights to their concept in 2015 to a media company, but they still travel the country in support of promotional events for the newly-launched website. It was at one of these promotional events where we had the pleasure of talking with the Sterns and hearing stories about their adventures sussing out good grub. The restaurant where the event was held (Gargiulo's) was in Coney Island and wasn't particularly noteworthy in the same way that a Maggiano's isn't particularly noteworthy (indeed, it's not in the Roadfood guide); however, I enjoyed for the first time seeing the oceanside roller coasters and the original Nathan's Hot Dogs stand just down the street, making the hour plus trip from the Chuck Wagon worth the hassle.

Anyway, if you're still with me, there is a point to all this rambling. When visiting Norwalk, CT over the weekend with the kinder to see the New England Maritime Aquarium (amazingly, only 30 minutes from the new homestead if traffic on I-95 isn't heavy), we sought out a restaurant that IS in the guide, a seasonal clam shack by the waterfront since 1948 called Overton's.

When they say "shack" in this case, they really mean it as there's little more than a walk-up window, an outdoor covered dining area for patrons, and a parking lot for patrons (and cash only, please - your credit's no good here). When the weather turns ill around November 1st, the fryers go cold and the whole operation hibernates until the following spring, just the kind of seafood joint I imagined New England would be flush with (and that doesn't really exist in the State of Florida).

As for the menu offerings, they're mostly limited to, well, seafood and a few sandwiches, including a hot dog (deep fried as they typically do in Connecticut, by the way). Mrs. Hackknife bit the bullet and paid $17.99 for what ended up being a very tasty lobster roll consisting of lobster meat and drawn butter (no dressing necessary) in a toasted roll. If you're like me and you generally don't enjoy the chewy consistency of clam strips, spend a few extra dollars and order the clam bellies, which are rich, briny, and creamy in a way that I didn't realize the lowly clam could be.  When paired with onion rings and tartar sauce, you've got a fine golden-fried meal to fuel your native Puritan work ethic in these parts.

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