The drive to the Blue Oar in Haddam is a quick one from Hartford down Route 9, and once you’re off the highway it’s all twisty roads with old Victorian homes and overgrown gardens.
I love Litchfield County, the Quiet Corner is a favorite and I will begrudgingly admit that Fairfield County is beautiful. There are some parts of Hartford that are stunning (NO I AM NOT KIDDING). But there’s something enchanting about the CT River Valley; Chester, Hadlyme, Essex—this is a special part of the state.* If you ever get a case of the Connecticuts (“Why am I here? The taxes are so high! The winters are so cold!”) a visit to the Connecticut River Valley will cure you quickly.
What is the Blue Oar? Well, it’s part-restaurant and part-hang out space situated right on the river. There’s a dock and boats to gawk at, but you’re really there to dine on the river. I went with my friends Suzi and Jon (Mike was in Pomfret working on a car–his loss).
Here are a few things to note before you go:
- It’s BYOB, and that includes glassware and bottle openers. The line is long during the summer so you may also want to bring a cooler. The people in line ahead of us were regulars and they had pitchers of mixed drinks, highball glasses and ice with them and they started drinking while waiting to get into the restaurant. It’s a very festive atmosphere.
- It’s cash-only.
- It’s dependent on weather as there is no inside seating.
- When you arrive, you wait in line, they send you to a table. You drop your stuff down and then go wait in line inside the main building to order your food. They give you a numbered sign to put on your table and 1.5 to 2 hours later, your food arrives.
Yes, yes. You’re here for the atmosphere. This is Haddam, not Manhattan and you will wait for your food. That’s why you bring drinks and good friends (or a date) to entertain yourself. The food was meh. We all agreed that next time we’d order simpler dishes (the menu ranges from rib eyes ad scallop entrees to burgers) and we we’d get there earlier. We arrive at 7:15pm and by the time our food arrived it was pitch-black and almost 9pm.
Go, get something simple and enjoy the view.
The Blue Oar
16 Snyder Rd
Haddam, CT 06438
*Purists will tell you that the entire central part of the state (aka the 91 Corridor) is the River Valley but traditionally people think of Chester, Deep River, East Haddam, Essex, Haddam, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook as the true River Valley.11