One expects to encounter seafood while on holiday in California. The state is perhaps most famous for its coastline where an epic road trip via jaw dropping Big Sur allows you to coast from San Diego to San Francisco, all the while tossing your hair in the salty breeze which sails off the Pacific.
And so it might seem a bit odd that one of the top restaurants in West Hollywood caters to those who crave seafood treats from the other side of the country. At Connie & Ted’s Chef Michael Cimarusti serves up simply prepared fish and shellfish, inspired by the classic clam shacks, oyster bars and fish houses that dot the New England Seaboard. A lifelong fisherman, Cimarusti named his restaurant after his grandparents who took him fishing as a kid in Rhode Island.
We arrive on a Saturday evening, quickly whisked onto the patio and perched over the hustle and haze of Los Angeles. The 160-seat restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard offers a breezy low key space where bustling open kitchen spills into a dining room where light fixtures are made of repurposed lobster traps and an elaborate sculpture of ocean buoys hangs from the heavens.
Those looking for a quick quench will be impressed by the bars lengthy craft beer list and creative cocktail offering. Jonathan and I opt for two well muddled glasses, slowly sipping while wagging our fingers through the savoury side of things. The passion fruit forward Road Less Travel offers much needed floral refreshment. A stark contrast to the stiff sipper Born In East LA which has one loitering around their straw, slowly appreciating a mingling of reposado, tamarind and mole bitters.
A parade of plates came sailing out of the kitchen, splashing onto the patio as our limp wrists waved enthusiastically. A bubbling plate of Wild White Mexican Shrimp tossed in tomato and garlic compote makes one immediately wonder “have I ever encountered a prawn this profound?” Fans of the frier find crispy nirvana via calamari doused in marinara and sauce figaro. I find myself tuned in to the Lobster Roll served classically cold, tossed in sweet mayonnaise and cuddled beside crunchy coleslaw. Those who refuse to call themselves fans of the fish will find happiness after munching through the kitchens signature Bacon Hook Burger. The plump patty is topped with crispy bacon, sharp 4 year aged cheddar, pickles, onions, lettuce and creamy 1000 island dressing. The real trick here is to avoid splattering the beefy situation all over yourself while still maintaining a grip on your girth.
While we both sat bloated, ripping at the seams we felt it our duty to sample the sweet side of life. Our bubbly waitress suggested her favourite Blondie which Jonathan devoured as strings of salted caramel whispered across his beard. I lulled my way into pitch perfect food coma that eve, a final memory nothing more than a blurry vision: struggling through a sky high carrot cake wrapped in thick lemon infused cream cheese frosting.
road less traveled
zubrowka vodka, passion fruit, vanilla- habanero honey, lime
born in east la
reposado tequila,tamarind, lime,mexican moles bitters,hellfire bitters, soda
little gem lettuce
cherry tomatoes, hard cooked egg, bacon, hook’s blue cheese
wild white mexican shrimp
tomato compote, garlic, lemon, arugula
marinara, sauce figaro
cold with mayonnaise with slaw
the bacon hook burger
neuske’s bacon, hook’s 4 year cheddar, pickles, onions, lettuce, 1000 island
vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce
walnuts and lemon cream cheese frosting