For those with some extra cash and the need to appease an angry girlfriend, Carmen Anthony’s Steakhouse on State Street may be the perfect solution.
The atmosphere in Carmen Anthony’s is elegant, scented with light overtones of “you can’t afford this on a college budget.” And while this may be somewhat true, the restaurant’s superb offerings and excellent service will be worth it for those willing to pay for quality.
Upon entering the quiet, upscale steakhouse, my date and I were immediately impressed by the classiness of the restaurant, with its dim lighting, well-dressed patrons and plush carpets. Though we were forced to wait a couple minutes before being seated, our waiter courteously apologized and explained that the restaurant was understaffed at the moment.
Our waiter, James, was actually one of the greatest draws of Carmen Anthony’s. Professional and friendly, he was especially inspiring when explaining long lists of complicated dishes and desserts without ever making a mistake. I was profoundly impressed by his ability to show attention to every patron in the restaurant even though he seemed to be the only waiter available.
Carmen Anthony’s clearly chooses its servers to match the quality of its food, because the only thing as impressive as James was our meal, which was excellent. We began with an appetizer of escargot bourguignonne ($12.95 for 12). When brought to our table, the dish was as promised, “bubbling hot in a garlic and herb butter.” We both agreed that the escargot were perfectly prepared and delicious.
Though my date laughed at me for ordering seafood from a steakhouse, I insisted on ordering the baked stuffed shrimp ($26.95). I was presented with a dish of four enormous shrimp beautifully arranged around a centerpiece of mashed potatoes and vegetables. The shrimp could have benefited, though, from just a little less of the nonetheless delicious seafood and Ritz cracker stuffing. Especially elegant was the butter sauce placed over an open flame on the table (though I remained in constant fear throughout the meal that I would set the linen tablecloth on fire).
In true male fashion, my date had to show his strength by ordering prime rib, served as rare as possible ($32.95). The prime rib at Carmen Anthony’s has been voted the best in New Haven County by Connecticut Magazine since 2005 (and it only opened in November 2004). After commandeering a large portion of my date’s meal, I understood why. The meat was tender, cooked exactly as ordered, and prepared with one of the best spice rubs I have ever tasted.
The only downside to an otherwise perfect evening (not counting the check, of course) came in the form of an unimposing cup of espresso ($2.75). While I am not an espresso connoisseur, it was clear that something was not quite right with this coffee. Though it was neither too strong nor too weak, it was marred by an unpleasant aftertaste, leading me to believe that the roast may have been burned.
Had I been a little less full and little more well-funded, I would have ordered from the dessert tray that James deftly presented. Desserts at Carmen Anthony’s include everything from Capri Rich Flourless Chocolate Torte to Bananas Foster to White & Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding.
Though slightly depressed by a check that reached almost $100 after tax and tip, I was heartened to see that I could afford to frequent the restaurant again through cheaper means: On Monday through Thursday, Carmen Anthony’s offers a lunch menu from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and a happy hour menu every day from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. The happy hour menu includes such offerings as scallops wrapped in bacon and chicken club sandwiches for $4.95, as long as you order at least $4.50 worth of drinks.
So for those looking for cheap way to avoid dining hall food, avoid Carmen Anthony’s. But if you want to completely erase the taint of the dining hall from your palate, and are willing to pay for that medicine, Carmen Anthony’s may be the way to go.