Thursday, June 18, 2009

Essex Go Round

Griswold Inn.

This entry originally took place on May 15 (I know - eons ago, please forgive the backlog. Work has been consuming me.)

- Everybody hop inside the car! We're going on a mini road trip!

That would be in the vein of Dad's adventurous spirit, more or less. Done with college for the year, my sister returned home to our humble abode. Not less than a week later, we were off again. This time, to a little old town we once visited as pigtailed children.

Destination: Essex, Conn.

I still remember the baby blue postcard with the shiny gold embossed logo in delicate script that read: The Griswold Inn. That's when I used to collect postcards of every vacation spot we visited. I started this habit at the tender age of seven. I'd tack some sticky tape on the back of the shiny pictures and fill my 3-inch scrapbook with them, marking the date next to each one (in my huge scrawled handwriting). Beaches, historic houses, amusement parks, shark fins and Native American memorabilia filled the parchment pages.

The Banjo Band used to play here.

Fourteen years later, the Griswold Inn still looks and feels the same as the first time I stepped through the heavy wooden doors. There are framed paintings of schooners, ship blueprints and a 2-foot-long antique brass whistle that makes a G-O-N-NNNNG noise when tapped. An old-fashioned, working popcorn maker still stands in the dining area. The warm smell of butter filled my nostrils.

My fun-sized sliders, up close.

The food's pretty darn good, too. The waitress served us a basketful of crusty handmade rolls with butter. The rolls were not as fresh as I'd envisioned, but when the clam chowder came, all that was forgotten. When it comes to chowder, New England certainly knows its stuff. Though the delicate blue-and-white doily-laced fine china was small in stature, the bowl contained a thick, rich soup. A generous helping of clams and potatoes filled each spoonful. But beware: Not for the lactose intolerant.

Double the (delicious) trouble.

My bacon sliders came next. As a rule, anything with bacon has a promising future in my book. However, the medium-done burger had just the right bounce and juiciness that made each bite so pleasurable. The addition of the chipotle mustard sauce raised it up a notch or two.

Chicken quesadilla with sour cream (Sister's).

My sister had the chicken quesadilla, which was rather bland since it lacked the spicy kick of jalapeƱos, cilantro and lime juice that would have enhanced the flavor. All in all, not a bad run.

Rating: 4 stars.

The Griswold Inn
36 Main Street
Essex, CT 06426

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