I am on a business trip in New Haven, CT. I have never actually been to Connecticut so it's pretty exciting to try somewhere new! Of course when I first found out I was going to CT, I IMMEDIATELY looked up the restaurant I would go to , and it definitely was not a hard choice.
I went to 116 Crown. I made it to my hotel by 5 pm and was at the restaurant by 5:15 pm, I was starving to say the least. The restaurant was a 10 minute walk from the hotel which is what is nice about New Haven. I had a breakfast sandwich and coffee at 7:45 am and NOTHING ELSE the rest of the day, which is not a "norm" for me. So, yeah. I also wanted to get back to my hotel to lay in bed and watch tv, because, well, I was exhausted.
I was the third person to arrive at the restaurant, there was what seemed like a mother and daughter there. I walked in and the team was still prepping for the night. Booths on the right and the bar on the left, a very cool bar. The restaurant is known for specialty cocktails I would say from looking at their website and Yelp. I asked if I could sit at the bar and the hostess suggested I sit outside, I said sure! She brought me through the restaurant, up the stairs and out the back door to an adorable, fenced in area with bulbed lighting across the top. There were 10-12 four person tables, one with the mother and daughter duo.
Outside, they had fresh herbs growing, a ground with small pebbles and an area with a game I believe. I sat down and waited a few minutes for someone to come take my order. I reviewed the cocktail list however settling on something I knew I would enjoy, a cosmopolitan (I have been watching Sex and the City a lot lately). It's simple, delicious and I like to see how different restaurants create it. I knew I wanted the burger from reviewing Yelp. It is served on a square... oh, we will get to that.
The hostess who brought me to my seat actually took my order. I ordered "water, a cosmopolitan and the burger, medium rare, with cheese". Boom, bada, bing. I know what I like. Within 5 minutes, my cosmopolitan was served in a large martini glass with half a lime skin at the bottom. It was light pink in color. I took one sip, may be the best cosmo I have ever had! Perfect sweetness, perfect tartness, just perfect.
The burger arrived another 5-10 minutes later. On the menu, it is a "dry aged organic angus Burger. young cheddar, pickled onion, relish, garlic aioli w. fresh kennebec potato chips". I was looking forward to the french fries however they are sold separate as more of an appetizer/side. The burger is served on a brioche bun, with a knife vertically placed in the middle of it. I cut it in half and was a bit surprised by the red, assuming relish, color on the bottom. It was aioli, cheese, burger and relish, from top to bottom. It was spicy! I was surprised by this. It was a relish, onion flavor. It was quite good however not what I was expecting, even though I love spice. I ate into the first half, leaving the square edges with a little bit of beef still there and started on the second half. The chips were good, crispy and well salted.
By the end of the meal, I was full, very, very full. My first thought was, hmm that's a waste of bread, I don't like to waste bread. I am thinking perhaps they could ask the bakery to make a round ciabatta bread? or perhaps use a cookie cutter and make it round? I am not sure. I tasted the meat on it's own and I personally think it needed salt. I tasted the bread on it's own, good aioli but also, I think needed salt.
The bottom line...
Distance from Chester, NJ: about 2.5 hours, lol, but if you are in the area, not far!
The wait: not long, but of course it was 5:15 pm, I think on a usual busy night, reservations recommended
Service: good service, was in and out quickly which is what I desired
Cost: Cosmo was $16, worth it but expensive, burger was $21, not terrible but not great
Kids: it seems like a very relaxed place. I assume when it is packed it is loud. There was a baby in a stroller there by the time I left!
Rating: 3.9 out of 5
Why? Things I would change - nix the the spicy relish, maybe some sautéed onions with some banana peppers, if you want to be different? Add some salt to the meat itself as well as the bread. We usually butter, salt and grill our buns, makes a big difference. I would also recommend the bread be circular, I like the ciabatta idea though.
If you are in New Haven, CT and you like cocktails, I highly recommend it for happy hour.