The sunlight sparkled on the Housatonic River. Just down stream it broadened and curved toward the Sound. A wild swan got a long running start across the water and flew to the other side. Upstream, the river heads under the arched Washington drawbridge on its path to Massachusetts.
It was a lovely scene from our table at the Riverview Bistro in Stratford: bright, sunny, and mesmerizing as only wind ruffled water can be. Sitting by the window, we forgot that it was also breezy, cold, and blustery outside.
There’s a lovely stretch of coast on the far side of Bridgeport. The Housatonic River separates Stratford from Milford and is the boundary between Fairfield and New Haven counties. While doing some antiquing at the Stratford Antique Center, we thought we’d take in some early season waterside dining.
Outriggers and Knapp’s Landing further downstream on the river both offer seafood-focused menus, a full bar, and great water views. Marnick’s, overlooking Long Island Sound, is a classic, known for Lobster rolls and great views. Across the Housatonic in Milford, the Stonebridge Restaurant, overlooking the upper reaches of Milford Harbor, is another option for a well-prepared seafood menu by the water.
Our waterside choice for lunch was the Riverview Bistro at 946 Ferry Blvd in Stratford (riverviewstratford.com). Right by the river, with views downstream to the south and east across the Housatonic, it more that fulfilled our desire for lunch with a view.
Dressed in tailored striped awnings and painted shingles it’s a little more spiffy looking than the usual shorefront restaurant. A bowl of fresh tulips welcomed us in the entrance. The high-ceilinged dining room had plenty of light from a wall of windows, a soothing color scheme, and beachy art. The Riverview also has a large event space for hosting celebrations, fundraisers, and banquets.
Clam chowder calls to me when there’s saltwater in view. A bowl of traditional, thick, flavorful chowder was great with half a grilled roast beef and ranch sandwich ($9). Marsha also opted for a combo: taco soup and a tuna sandwich ($7). We were both in the clean plate club. Our choices didn’t get beyond the enticing lunch specials. Next time we’ll explore the full menu with its wide range of shellfish, salads, sandwiches, pastas, and broiled or fried fish. Our very professional server was entertaining and engaging without being intrusive.
Reluctantly, we left our comfortable table, the view of the river, and the waterfowl display to seek the ideal antique cabinet. It has to be just the right (and somewhat unusual) size to hold an exceptional amount of stuff, with an unspecified color and style that will speak to us – we’ll know it when we see it. It’s a pretty tall order.
The Stratford Antique Center (stratfordantiquecenter.com) occupies a re-purposed blue industrial building at 400 Honeyspot Road, not far from Exit 31 on I-95. It’s a warren of booths crammed with all manner of old stuff – furniture, collectibles, folk art, signs, china, glass, paintings, jewelry, silver – anything that your ancestors might have owned and now you want again. Each booth has a unique flavor reflecting the taste and interest of the dealer (read collector) who stocks it. With dozens of individual booths, the center encompasses a full spectrum of styles and an endless array of stuff.
We did not find the cupboard of our dreams. One was the right size but the wrong color and not really the right period either. Others were too big, too small, or just didn’t catch our eye. But it was fun to cruise the aisles and spin stories about the things on display. In antiquing, the journey is the destination. Finding the right piece would have been a surprise.
Stratford is also the home of Two Roads Brewing (tworoadsbrewing.com), another favorite destination. Unfortunately, our relaxing lunch and leisurely stroll through the antiques put us in a time bind. Stopping at the brewery for a taste of one of their seasonal beers, watching the activity on the brewery floor, and filling a growler with a limited production brew would have put us on 95 at rush hour. No thanks.
We’ll head back to Stratford when the weather turns warmer. A quick lobster roll by the water should get us in and out of the brewery before the traffic thickens up.