Mystic, Connecticut has been a favorite day trip here in New England for years, with its charm as an historic seaport with an impressive aquarium. But over the past decade or so, food, which has never been a strong suit of this small community, has taken the forefront. There have always been the pizza joints and the fish shacks, and staples like the generic Steak Loft, but in recent years, food lovers have found Mystic to be a destination for dining alone. It's no surprise, then, that this community, which would be busy for only 2 summer months out of the year, is now teaming with visitors year-round.
One of the best dining destinations in Mystic is The Oyster Club, (www.oysterclubct.com), a farm-and-sea-to-table establishment that features ever-changing menus based one what is truly in season at the moment. Add that to genuine creativity in the kitchen and bar, and you get a really fun and delicious dining and drinking experience often found only in larger cities.
We recently had dinner at The Oyster Club on a Saturday night, and loved it so much, we returned the next day for Sunday brunch. Neither meal disappointed.
Our friends at FireFly Farms, a certified humane farm that raises pigs, cows, chicken and ducks in nearby Stonington, Connecticut have contributed to The Oyster Club menu on occasion, so the roasted duck dish was a temptation that 3 of us just couldn't resist. Only I veered from the meat and went for a beautifully pan-sauteed black bass. And my daughter was perfectly happy with house-made tagliatelle with bolognese. Appetizers included fresh local oysters (of course).
For brunch the next morning, my wife and returned to enjoy food and a few cocktails. My wife ordered a delicious frittata, while I just had to order the eyebrow-raising house-made everything bagel with cream cheese, sliced red onion, fried capers, parsley, and smoked conger eel! Yes, eel! It was fantastic! A delicious salad of apple and blue cheese rounded out our brunch.
For drinks, I sipped on a mushroom infused bourbon cocktail called the Fun Guy...and my wife enjoyed the Downward Dog, featuring cold-brewed coffee.
If you're craving sushi, ironically, the best sushi can be found across the street from the Mystic Aquarium at Johnny's Peking Tokyo. (www.pekingtokyomystic.com) As its name implies, you'll find Chinese and Japanese cuisine here, and everything is top-notch. It's the best sushi between New York City and Boston.
And what visit to Mystic would be complete without hob-knobbing with the rich folks? The Spicer Mansion (www.spicermansion.com) is a beautifully refurbished Relais and Chateaux property, where you can dress up and sip cocktails by the fire. Join the special club here and you'll have access to a "secret" speakeasy located in the basement! Excellent pampering service, as you'd expect.