The Lobster Grilled Cheese at The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood
I always think of Rowayton as the first New England town in Connecticut. Only about 45 miles northeast of Manhattan, and officially part of the city of Norwalk, it's a pretty little town full of gabled houses and clapboard cottages, stretching along the Five Mile River. It counts as past or present residents such luminaries as author Philip Caputo, actor Treat Williams, chef Kerry Heffernan, and the late Andy Rooney, and plays home to an annual outdoor "Shakespeare on the Sound" festival.
It is also the site of a small, high-quality fish and shellfish purveyor, Rowayton Seafood, and a larger, equally high-quality restaurant in front of the shop, known by the rather cumbersome name of The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood.
The menu here, as you might expect, is heavy on edible sea creatures. There are always five or six kinds of oysters (East and West Coast both, including Connecticut's own Blue Points), the first really good fried clams you'll come to heading up into fried-clam territory, an assortment of imaginative fish dishes (peppadew dusted swordfish with sweet potato-crab hash, roasted sea scallops with root vegetable purée), and, at lunchtime, a selection of excellent sandwiches.
Because this is New England, lobster is of course involved. There's a lobster roll, of course (not a great one, frankly; wrong bun, too much mayo), but also a positively addictive lobster grilled cheese. It's very simple: good multi-grain wheat toast stuffed with white Cheddar and a generous portion of fresh lobster (usually including some claw meat), cooked in a sandwich press that leaves the outer surfaces of the bread nicely ridged. Add some textbook coleslaw and homemade potato chips on the side and appreciate good Yankee culinary virtues.
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