What this blog is about.

Finding excellent food and service is often a challenge anywhere. So much can go wrong. Whether it be the food, service, atmosphere or price. I admit, I am a food snob. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy simple meals as well as those I expect to pay top dollar for. However, I believe one should get what one pays for. I hope to be able to guide you to the best places to eat in the shoreline area.

I have found that the biggest challenge in running a successful restaurant is consistency. And, I recognize that all places can have an off day, Therefore, should I end up trashing a local eatery, I will extend a second chance experience. However, I think it is important to be honest with you about my experiences. It is not my intention to close local business. Hopefully, they will receive my reviews as creative criticism.

Please contact me via email with your comments, questions, and restaurant review suggestions. davidkosky@hotmail.com.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Cuckoo's Nest - Old Saybrook

Cuckoo’s Nest Mexican Food
1712 Boston Post Rd
Old Saybrook, CT 06475
Call for reservations and info: 860-399-9060

Open 7 days a week, year round:
Monday-Thursday 11:30 - 9:30
Friday-Saturday 11:30 - 11:00
Sunday 11:00 - 9:00

Price Guide: $$ - $$$

I have been to the Cuckoo's Nest many, many times over the years. Actually, I go at least three times a month. Does this automatically mean I think it is outstanding? No, but I enjoy quite a bit about this restaurant. First, this is a place to go and have fun. When busy, which is often, especially in the summer, it is noisy. It is also family friendly, has a busy bar, active wait staff and jovial guests. If you need to unwind with a quiet meal, come early...like before 6pm.

Secondly, this is not solely a Mexican restaurant. Some of the Nest's best dishes are Creole in the New Orleans style. But, in keeping with the Mexican theme, their margaritas are outstanding. And, while it may seem "girlie", I love their frozen strawberry margaritas...with salt on the rim. About $7.

For our dinner I chose to go early. With two guests, I wanted to sample as much as possible for the review. Now, I must say that I know the chef. At a previous dinner, he had an amazing appetizer on the daily specials menu. It was not on the menu this evening but.... he was working so I asked him to the table. The owner was also at our table when the chef arrived and I complimented him on the aforementioned appetizer. Much to my delight, the chef agreed to make this special dish.

Churrasquinho Brasileiro
Brazilian Grill

This appetizer is truly amazing. I'm not sure of the cut of beef, but it was as tender as filet. I like my beef slightly pink in the middle and this was perfect. The skewered beef was tastefully seasoned with fennel seeds and other spices. To top it off, it was served over a mixed green salad tossed in a vinaigrette dressing. Honestly... amazing.

For dinner, one of my guests ordered from the Mexican Dinners and Combos section, I, from the House Speciality section, and my second guest.... once again something that was not on the menu, though it was until recently. My first guest ordered the Chimichanga Grande, $15.95.

Chimichanga Grande with Chicken

The difference between an Enchilada and a Chimichanga is how the tortilla is prepared. Enchilada - soft. Chimichanga - crispy. This one was perfectly crispy. The chicken was mostly white meat and pulled apart not chunks; with mild seasoning. Very nice. It's side dish was Spanish Rice. My guest liked it very much. Me, not a big fan of Spanish Rice... anywhere. A great plus, the meal came hot, as did all of our dinners. You may say: duh but wait until I tell you about Aspen in Old Saybrook. One thing to remember about this entree is:  it is large. Hence the grande. My guest took half home and said it reheated well in the toaster oven.

My second guest ordered off the menu, Shrimp Creole, $20.95. Previously it was under the House Specialty section.

The Shrimp Creole

Unlike the shrimp we had at The Back Porch, the Nest's shrimp was cooked perfectly. Again the dinner arrived hot and was a large serving of six good sized shrimp. The sauce was a classic New Orleans style. It was mild to slightly spicy and definitely not overpowering. A bonus with this dish is that the shells of the tail were completely removed. I hate assuming they have been removed only to have to pull it out of my mouth.

Finally, I ordered from the House Specialty section and one of my favorite dishes, The Cajun Steak. $24.95. I would also recommend the Blackened Whitefish.

The Cajun Steak

One of my favorite aspects of a grilled steak is the crispy edges. I mean I really like that and really expect it when I go to a good restaurant. The Nest never disappoints when it comes to my steak. This a great entree. The cut is always wonderful and also cooked the way I like it. But, I am very detailed when I explain my preferences to a server. And you should be too. I really don't know what constitutes Cajun spices, but whatever they use it is awesome. You will find yourself soaking up every bit of juice on your plate with each bite you cut. On the menu this entree offers a baked potato. However, I love their mashed potatoes and gravy. If you don't live for the baked, give the mashed a try. When I am feeling guilty, I order a side of broccoli.

Because of the amazing appetizer and the size of our dinners we passed on coffee and desserts. But, having been there before, the coffee is fine and so are the desserts. I don't often say much about coffee and desserts because I am very picky about good coffee and what could be called a great dessert. If I don't trash it, it is good.

Recommendation: Go, enjoy and try some different things.

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