With a name like Connie and Ted's, it seems like you should be going to a friend's house for a meal, and in some ways you are, especially if your friend has a really big modern, dining room with a lot of seafood in it.
Connie and Ted are the names of Providence chef Michael Cimarusti's grandparents, and Ted was an avid fisherman who got Michael into the game at an early age. This restaurant pays homage to the eastern shores where Ciramusti grew up and spent time fishing with his grandparents.
Connie and Ted's is housed within a swooping futuristic framework, but the interior feels more like fancy crab shack meet cafeteria with plastic orange bucket chairs and bare, polished tables.
One step inside, and you feel like you're at summer clam bake. There's an open kitchen and proudly displayed raw bar. The energy is palpable. People are excited, seafood is flying.
The servers are wearing blue sleeved baseball T-shirts with matching aprons. They have a smile on their face and are happy to give advice and make recommendations. When we had more questions on wine than our waitress could answer, she brought over the equally casual Sommelier, dressed in a short sleeve Hawaiian shirt and an equally energetic pair of plaid pants. He talked us through some of his favorites and we landed on the Mary Elke Donneley Creek Vineyard Pinot Gris that worked well with the seafood to come.
We started with a half dozen oysters from the raw bar. Our server's favorite were the Shigoku from BC, which I had actually just had in Vancouver the week before, and loved. Maybe it had something to do with the W. Hollywood vs. British Columbia atmosphere and proximity to the oysters, but I didn't like them quite as much as I did in Vancouver, but of course they were still easily edible, along with the Kumamoto and Beau Soleil's.
Nancy's Peeky Toe Crab Cake was different than you're typical MD Crab Cake, but equally enjoyable. The lack of filler and stuffing made for a flatter cake, but allowed the crab to do its thing. It was crisp and moist, served with a better spin on tartar sauce that was more aioli and creamy, and a good, thinly sliced, crunchy cole slaw.
We couldn't pass up the lobster roll, but the question was hot or cold. We were convinced to go hot, and we were not misled. The bread was toasted and submerged in butter for what had to be 3 days, but it sublimely blended with the richness of the lobster. The lobster was well represented with big, meaty chunks, and the crispy fries were icing on this already rich cake.
The wilted spinach was a good attempt at adding a vegetable to our seafood fest, and the bacon brought in some good smokiness.
Since we were properly eating our way around New England, we had to end with the whoopie pie. It had a fresh chocolate outer layer, caressing the vanilla interior, making for one decadent, fluffy, giant Oreo cooking.
Connie and Ted's provides a good trip around New England and the shores of the west coast. It's simple, but solid seafood in a very friendly atmosphere.