L.A.'s New England Seafood Shack - Connie & Ted's


#1

It’s been a few years since Chef-Owner Michael Cimarusti (of Providence fame) opened his tribute to the New England Seafood Shacks that he grew up. Named after his grandparents, Connie & Ted’s had a successful debut when Chef Cimarusti was overseeing the kitchen during the opening months. It felt like a good time to see how the restaurant has fared in the years since its debut.

With its pedigree, the decor is certainly a step up from a typical notion of a “Seafood Shack,” but still casual enough to feel relaxed and down-to-earth.

As the years have gone by, and you read reports from many FTC’ers, it feels like Connie & Ted’s has been inconsistent in its menu offerings. The dishes covered here are over the course of our ~9th - 13th visit or so?

Jo’s Wicked Good Chowda’ - Sampler of New England, Manhattan, Rhode Island Clear:

One of the standout items that has stood the test of time since their opening is the unique set of 3 different Clam Chowders that Chef Cimarusti offers.

New England Clam Chowder:

Their New England Chowder is excellent! Not super-thick (like the usual Flour or Corn Starch laden versions), it’s light creamy, wonderfully briny and just a nice, refined version of the classic New England-style Chowder.

Manhattan Clam Chowder:

Their Manhattan Clam Chowder has that distinct Tomato base, the balance of piquant and briny, and just as interesting. :slight_smile:

Rhode Island Clear Clam Chowder:

But the most unique one might be their Rhode Island Clear Clam Chowder. Not seen very often in L.A., this is Chef Cimarusti’s tribute to the style of Clam Chowder he had in Rhode Island years ago. It tastes the lightest of the 3 Chowders, even though there are some hunks of Salted Pork in there. There’s a clean Clam flavor that comes through, with a nice complement from the Salted Pork.

One thing to note, it’s usually better to order the Rhode Island Clear as a Bowl (instead of Cup), as you get a better proportion of Clams to Salted Pork. Perhaps because it floats to the top, but whenever we order a Cup of the Rhode Island, it always has far more Pork than Clams.

Fried Clams (with Bellies version) (Tartar Sauce, Fries):

This is one of the reasons to visit Connie & Ted’s: Hearing from many of our regulars on our old board, and here on FTC, Fried Clams with Bellies is a thing in New England. :slight_smile: We’ve never been able to try Fried Clams with Bellies in New England before, but it appears to be rather rare to find them here in L.A. Connie & Ted’s was our first taste of this dish, and it’s pretty tasty. :slight_smile:

Lightly battered, crisped Fried Clams are nicely seasoned (not too salty), and the Bellies add an interesting component to the dish. It’s got a little more heft and chew than the regular version you can order (“Clam Strips”).

Housemade Fettuccine Pasta (Manila Clams + Mussels) (White Wine Sauce):

This dish has been a bit inconsistent over the years. On this particular visit, the Housemade Fettucine Pasta is a bit too undercooked (beyond al dente), tasting like you’re eating undercooked Pasta. :frowning: The Clams and Mussels were perfectly cooked, though, and the White Wine Sauce was light and spot-on.

Lobster Roll (Hot) (Hot Drawn Butter):

And this is another key reason to come to Connie & Ted’s, for their amazing Lobster Rolls! Connie & Ted’s is one of the few restaurants locally that makes their Lobster Roll with Lobster Tail (more expensive) and Claw meat. We usually order it it Hot, and with Hot Drawn Butter.

The Lobster is perfectly cooked, tender, just cooked-through, yet still meaty. There’s a beautiful purity in the Hot Drawn Butter, Lobster Tail & Claw meat and the soft, yet slightly crisped Toasted Bread. Arguably the best Lobster Rolls in L.A.! :blush:

The only other ones that we feel are comparable are from The Lobsta Truck, a roaming food truck that has been making excellent Lobster Rolls for years as well. There has been much debate over the years (in a friendly way ;)), on which one is better, so we felt like it was good to have a sanity check. So off we went to The Lobsta Truck to try their Lobster Roll:

The Lobsta Truck’s version is made with Lobster Claw (and Knuckle) meat only. It is soft, tender, just cooked through Lobster meat as well, and the buttered Bread just accentuates the flavors. It is delicious as well! :slight_smile:

It is half the price of Connie & Ted’s ($13 vs. $26), but the quantity feels about 50% as well. You can add more meat for $5 more, but it doesn’t really double the size.

It’s a toss-up, but I think I like Connie & Ted’s Lobster Roll more, with the inclusion of Lobster Tail and Claw meat. :slight_smile:

Lobsta Truck’s Old Bay Fries:

Lobsta Truck’s Old Bay Fries are thin, almost to the point of being Shoestring style, but not quite.They are slightly crisped, but there’s not a lot of Potato taste due to how thin cut they are. Connie & Ted’s version is much better.

Wilted Spinach (No Bacon):

One of the best side dishes at Connie & Ted’s is their Wilted Spinach. There’s an option to order it with Bacon or without, and having tried both a few times, definitely order it without Bacon. It’s just far too salty when you order it with Bacon.

But without Bacon, the Wilted Spinach is a huge quantity of Poached Spinach (remembering just how much Spinach shrinks when you cook it). It’s nicely salted, and just a nice balance to the other dishes.

Blondie (Brown Sugar Bar with Caramelized Chocolate, Vanilla Ice Cream and Salted Caramel Sauce):

Fantastic! Thanks to all the FTC’ers who’ve recommended this dessert. Decadent, but so delicious with the Salted Caramel, Vanilla Ice Cream and the Brown Sugar Bar! :smile:

On another visit, we start with 2 of our favorite Cocktails on the menu:

Bloody Mary (Tomato Juice, Worcestershire, Olive Brine, Horseradish, Celery Salt, Hot Sauce, Fresh Lemon, Housemade Atomic Seasoning, Housemade Celery & Bay Leaf Vodka):

Connie & Ted’s Bloody Mary is simply outstanding. One of the best Bloody Mary’s we’ve had in L.A. Nuanced, spicy, tomatoey, and really balanced. :slight_smile:

Ginger (Housemade Ginger Syrup, Lime, Soda, Vodka):

This is a nicely balanced ode to Ginger (that just happens to have some Lime, Carbonation and Vodka ;)). One of the better Ginger Cocktails I’ve had.

Chef’s Choice Oyster Platter (Kumamoto (Washington), Clevedon (New Zealand), Black Duck Salt (Virginia), Wellfleet (Massachusetts), Mermaid (Prince Edward Island), Mintersweet (Washington)):

The Oysters at Connie & Ted’s have consistently been outstanding. They are one of our favorite places around L.A. to get Raw Oysters. This is one area of the menu that clearly shows how much Chef Cimarusti cares about sourcing. Their selection of Oysters changes almost daily.

More importantly, the Oysters offered have always been clean, bright and interesting. We’ve never gotten shell fragments when eating these Oysters, either. For this visit’s selection, my favorite were the Black Duck Salt Oysters from Virginia. Gorgeously briny, bright and fresh! :slight_smile:

Nancy’s Peeky Toe Crab Cake (Cole Slaw & Tartar Sauce):

Their Crab Cake is rather mundane. There’s a decent amount of Crab within, but the breading, Crab and seasonings just feel average in terms of flavors.

The Bacon Hook Burger (Neuske’s Bacon, Hook’s 4 Year-Old Cheddar, Pickles, Onion, Lettuce, 1000 Island):

I remember someone recommending the Burger here, so on this visit, we decided to finally order it. The problem with the Burger is that the Hook’s 4 Year Old Cheddar completely overpowers the rest of the Burger. :frowning: If you like super funky, smelly cheeses like a ripe Blue, or Époisses, then this Burger might be for you. But this 4 Year Old Cheese was so pungent it really ruined it for us.

Scraping off the Cheese the Beef was also barely noticeable.

On our 12th visit, we started with:

Chilled Seafood: Wild White American Shrimp:

Just cooked through, meaty and bright, Connie & Ted’s Chilled Seafood menu is worth ordering from (Lobsters, Crabs, Shrimp, Live Uni, Topnecks). We really like their take on the classic Shrimp Cocktail (with their good sourcing for Seafood).

Mixed Greens & Asparagus Salad (Cherry Tomatoes, Fines Herbs, Raw and Cooked Asparagus):

This has become one of our go-to orders at Connie & Ted’s. You wouldn’t think a Salad would be something to order for a “Seafood Shack,” but the Mixed Greens, Asparagus and the Housemade Dressing (lightly creamy, herbal, but not overpowering) makes this one of the better Salads we’ve had. Really good! :slight_smile:

Housemade Fettuccine Pasta (Manila Clams + Mussels) (White Wine Sauce):

Wanting to give this dish another chance, we order their Housemade Fettuccine Pasta again, and this time it’s perfectly cooked, a nice al dente, toothsome and pliable enough. The Mussels and Clams were tender and not overcooked.

Lobster Roll (Hot) (Hot Drawn Butter):

As delicious as before. Their Lobster Roll is consistently bright and fresh, with ample amounts of Lobster Tail and Claw! So good! :heart:

Fries:

In addition, their French Fries are some of the best in the city. There’s a nice crisp-crunch on the outside, and a potatoey, soft interior. They are nicely salted and just outstanding! :slight_smile: Out of our numerous visits, I think we’ve only had warm (sitting around a bit too long) Fries once, and we just asked the waiter to give us a fresh batch (and they were happy to oblige).

Grilled Catch of the Day - White Seabass (Choice of Plain & Simple, Herb Crust, or Herb Oil and Lemon):

Chef Cimarusti is big believer in sustainable Seafood (from the various articles in the L.A. Times and other sites about him). The menu states that “our fish are wild caught and sustainable,” for those that are interested. I’ve never had White Seabass before. It comes out about medium doneness, and it’s a clean, meaty fish, a bit firmer than I’d like.

We’ve ordered Halibut before in the past, and that has been pretty delicious (and lighter in texture than the White Seabass on this visit).

Chef’s Choice Oyster Platter (Pacific Plump (Washington), Fanny Bay (British Columbia), Hog Island Sweetwater (California), Fishers Island (New York), Wellfleet (Massachusetts), Sunberry Point (Prince Edward Island)):

On another visit, another fantastic selection of fresh Oysters. They are all as vibrant and clean and delicious as before! :slight_smile:

Joanne’s Fish & Chips (Batter-Dipped Cod, Tartar Sauce & Chips):

A slightly crisped battered exterior, impossibly flaky, moist, tender Cod on the inside, this is another reason you go to Connie & Ted’s. They make some of the best Fish & Chips in the city, and along with their outstanding French Fries, this is our favorite version to order anywhere. :heart:

A squeeze of Lemon, a dash of Malt Vinegar and I’m happy! :blush:

They also offer LAMILL Coffee (with free refills) for those that enjoy Coffee to finish the evening. :slight_smile:

The criticisms of Connie & Ted’s are valid, as not everything on the menu is as standout as their best items. From their early days and over the course of our 10+ visits, we’ve tried many other items on the menu with mixed success, for example, their Steamers (Soft Shell Clams) (Drawn Butter & Clam Broth) are tasty, but some of our friends found it OK at best.

For a restaurant coming from Providence Chef Michael Cimarusti, you would hope and expect 100% of the dishes on the menu to be fantastic, but it’s not the case, and that’s unfortunate. You’d hope Chef Cimarusti could compel his kitchen to improve on the dishes people have had issues with.

But if you go to Connie & Ted’s and go with the dishes they excel at, it becomes an excellent dining experience. We go to Connie & Ted’s for their impeccable selection of Fresh Oysters (with so many varieties), the outstanding Lobster Roll and Fish & Chips (amazing French Fries!), delicious selection of 3 Clam Chowders, and their Fried Clams with Bellies. They have a great Bloody Mary and Ginger Cocktail to boot. :wink:

Connie & Ted’s
8171 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046
Tel: (323) 848-2722

https://www.connieandteds.com/

Update 2:

Woke up and It felt like a New England Seafood Shack kind of day. :wink:

As usual a nice display of their fresh Seafood next to the Live Lobster tanks.

Bloody Mary (Tomato Juice, Worcestershire, Olive Brine, Horseradish, Celery Salt, Hot Sauce, Fresh Lemon, Housemade Atomic Seasoning, Housemade Celery & Bay Leaf Vodka):

Connie & Ted’s has been making a pretty consistent, tasty, Bloody Mary since our early visits. Spicy, peppery, umami from the Tomato Juice and not overly boozy.

Chef’s Choice Oyster Platter - Kumiai (Baja), Evening Cove (BC), Little Hoodlum (WA), Pirate Cove (MA), Indian Neck (MA), Cape Neddick (NY):

Connie & Ted’s Oysters continue to be some of the best in the city. It’s always fascinating to explore the variety of Oysters that Chef Cimarusti and his team source from around North America. My favorite on this visit was probably the Pirate Cove Oysters, just so bright and fresh. :slight_smile:

Side of Fries:

For those wanting to enjoy some great French Fries, the type that’s crispy-crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside, Connie & Ted’s Fries are some of the best in L.A.! They are SO GOOD! :heart:

Peeky Toe Crab & Lobster Omelette (Fines Herbs, Beurre Blanc, Housemade Grilled Pullman Bread):

This was simply delicious: Light, fluffy, nicely cooked Omelette (not overcooked like most are around the city), with tender morsels of Crab and Lobster inside. The Beurre Blanc Sauce was a great match without overwhelming the dish. :blush:

Their Housemade Pullman Bread was lightly toasted-crunchy, and a great accompaniment to the Omelette.

Another Visit:

Buttermilk Biscuit (Served with Strawberry Jam):

This was a good Housemade Biscuit. Crusty, slightly crunchy, that gives way to a crumbly-soft interior. It was served warm and was pretty tasty, not overly greasy or heavy.

One Dozen Oysters - Misty Point (VA), Salutation (PEI), Sunberry Point (PEI), Tabor Point (MA), Phantom Creek (BC), Coromandel (NZ):

The selection on this visit was even better than our last. It was really great trying out the flavors in these Oysters that were all so distinct, some with more salinity, others very sweet. I really liked the Sunberry Point Oysters from Prince Edward Island, and a rare New Zealand appearance with the Coromandel Oysters. :slight_smile:

Jo’s Wicked Good Chowda’ - Manhattan:

I love all 3 types of Clam Chowders at Connie & Ted’s, but today’s Manhattan Chowder was one of the best versions yet: Beautifully briny, sweet-tart from the Tomato base, tender bits of Potato and Clams. :slight_smile:

Avocado Toast with Smoked Black Cod (Radish, Cucumber, Sungold Tomato, Nori, Smoked Sesame Seeds):

Connie & Ted’s Brunch-Only Avocado Toast with Smoked Black Cod turns out to be a legitimately different take on the ubiquitous Avocado Toast seemingly everywhere these days. The Housemade Bread is crunchy and nicely toasted, the Avocado adds a beautiful creaminess, but it’s the Smoked Black Cod that shines here: A wonderful smokiness, delicate, flaky Smoked Black Cod reinforced by the Smoked Sesame Seeds. :slight_smile:

Joanne’s Fish & Chips (Batter-Dipped Cod, Tartar Sauce & Chips):

Just as amazing as usual: Crispy-crunchy battered exterior, yielding moist, flaky, perfectly cooked through Cod (not overcooked). I love the flavor profile here, especially with a nice dose of Malt Vinegar and some Lemon. :blush:

Their Fries were as fantastic as usual, crispy-crunchy and fluffy inside.

At this point Connie & Ted’s has definitely settled in and established itself as a comfortable, welcoming casual place to enjoy some very fresh Seafood prepared in a homage to Chef Cimarusti’s family’s New England heritage. Their Oysters are some of the best in the city, and there’s always an ever-rotating, unique selection to try; their new Lobster & Crab Omelette for Brunch is wonderful; and you can always drop in for some outstanding Lobster Rolls and Fish & Chips (and many other offerings).

Connie & Ted’s
8171 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046
Tel: (323) 848-2722

https://www.connieandteds.com/


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#2

great report @Chowseeker1999 , i love their bellies. i think i’ll try their cod sandwich they’re doing for dinela.


#3

Yeah, the fish and chips are pretty badass.


#4

Concur on the fish and chips and lobster roll. I also like that Connie & Ted’s is one of the few places in the L.A./O.C. area where you can get my favorite Island Creek oysters from Duxbury, MA. These oysters are a perfect blend of meaty, briny, and creamy.


#5

[quote=“PorkyBelly, post:2, topic:4955”]
i think i’ll try their cod sandwich they’re doing for dinela.[/quote]

Thanks @PorkyBelly. In all our visits, I still haven’t tried their Fried Cod Sandwich. Let me know how it is. :slight_smile:


#6

Thanks for the tip on the Island Creek Oysters. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for them the next time I go.


#7

As always thank you for the kick ass and through review.

Have this place bookmarked quite sometime for the lobster roll and 3 chowdas.


#8

You’re very diplomatic. My friend and I (we both grew up in the LA area) tried the clams + bellies and were like, “What the hell is this???” :wink:

I might’ve been one of the people who recommended the burger. I actually adore stinky, funky cheese. :frowning:

I prefer the Lobsta Truck lobster roll, but I’ve only had C&T’s once and agree that it’s a good one. I don’t mind the smaller size. Have not had the fish and chips or the blondie (although I’ve read about the latter a lot). Maybe I should try them both one day… :wink:

Agree w/ you that not everything is a hit. But I think it’s (very) good overall.

Great reporting, as always.


#9

In addition to the chowda, oysters, the lobster roll, fried clams and fish & chips, I am also a big fan of the Stuffies (bread crumbs, chopped clams, herbs and spices mixed with linguica sausage) at Connie & Ted’s and often get an order of those when I go there. Personally, I like the Hook’s Aged Cheddar on the burger.


#10

Thanks @JeetKuneBao! :slight_smile: Looking forward to your thoughts on the Lobster Roll and the Chowders. :slight_smile:


#11

Hi @paranoidgarliclover,

Thanks. Regarding the Hook Burger, no worries. One of our friends who also tried the Hook’s Cheddar Burger really loved the funkiness, so I think it’s just my shortcoming. :sweat_smile:

Definitely try their Fish & Chips and the Blondie next time you go. They’re delicious. :slight_smile:


#12

First time I tried them in New England, I was like “what the hell, why don’t they have these in LA??”

Was super happy when C&T finally made them happen. They make fried clams a far more interesting, complex, and overall delicious dish to me.

Was the line about them being interesting a hidden slight to the dish? I didn’t think so…perhaps I am actually the only person that truly loves them?


#13

No, it’s very clear from the C&T discussions (perhaps they were more on CH?) that LOTS of people love them. I assumed that much of that love was b/c people grew up eating them that way in the New England region. And clearly there are people, like you, who love them, even if they didn’t have them growing up.

I, however, am happy to eat clams w/o the bellies.


#14

I grew up in Boston and LOVE clams w/ bellies. My last trip to Boston in September, I had them 3 times over the course of 4 days.

Fried clam strips (w/out bellies) are not as flavorful and have a tendency to be too dry—more like clam jerky. I avoid clams w/out bellies for this reason.

I still need to make it over to C&T and try out their clams and lobsta roll.


#15

Could the flavor be interpreted by some as funk? I like funky cheese, but the funk + the seafood was a little weird to me. It didn’t tasted spoiled or anything… It was just… odd.

Avoid the clam cakes. I only had it once perhaps 2 yrs ago. Dry and flavorless, IIRC.


#16

Yes, you are. And Connie and Teds loves you back, so they make them that way just for you.

Also, the entire East Coast crab shack industry does it that way, just for you too.


#17

I think I’m in the very small minority that found C&T solidly good, but far from exceptional. And expensive, too!

Note 1: I grew up in the Deep South, not New England
Note 2: (whispers) I think Providence is overrated as well.


#18

I don’t know—maybe. To me it tastes like seafood/fish (not that different from lobster paste/tomalley or crab fat) nothing like a funky cheese. I think the texture and flavor make for a better clam experience.


#19

Jar also serves fried Ipswich clams with bellies.


#20

Jar is like the oft ignored older sibling that has a solid job, takes care of the parents as they age, and just holds it down for the family while everyone pays attention to the flashy, wilder younger sibling vicissitudes.

Jar has been reliably very good from the get go. It deserves a little more love than it gets for being such a neighborhood stalwart.