"The most famous brunch in Connecticut can be found at The Griswold Inn."
- The New York Times
As I mentioned in my last post about Louis’ Lunch, I am a fan of the great state of Connecticut and I do my fair share of visiting. I have seen many of the most popular sites like those in Mystic (http://bit.ly/2rNCY2N) as well as those of historic relevance like the Harriet Beecher Stowe House (http://bit.ly/2qYcdHN). Not too far away is another treasure, The Griswold Inn.
The Griswold Inn has been open since 1776 but is known mostly for their Sunday Hunt Breakfast. This breakfast has been offered every Sunday since the War of 1812 when the British occupied this territory. Ever since then it has become a longstanding tradition. It now also holds the record as oldest meal served in American history, a fact that I think should be in every school textbook.
Like most places I yearn to visit I have know about The Griswold Inn for sometime but never managed to get there until this year. This most recent trip to Newport really was productive on so many levels. The last activity on my itinerary was brunch here on our way home. Once again a great spot to stop at a half way point and something I was eager to get to.
We pulled up and parked right out front. This final day had the best weather we had experienced all weekend and it made this town come to light. It was gorgeous; all of the quaint homes, the nearby river, and all those folks just heading out for a meal to share on that Sunday Funday. I was just happy to be apart of it.
The Inn has about thirty or so rooms available for rent and about three rooms where meals are served. Since I was there for the Sunday Hunt Breakfast we were seated in the back room where the buffet is setup.
The room has memorabilia from its long history all along the walls and the aroma from all of the goods that have been freshly prepared waft around you. I was hungry from the moment I choose my chair.
Drinks, both hot and cold, are served by waitstaff but you come and go as much as you want from the buffet, all for under twenty-five dollars. There are the dishes already prepared and laid out such as: eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, chicken, veggies, fruit, and salad. Then there are speciality tables for individualized waffles and omelet creations. Finally there is a bread/dessert section. I went up about three times making sure to bit everything at least once. For the things I really enjoyed (which was mostly everything) I had several bites. I suppose that list has to include the scrambled eggs, linked sausage, and especially the pecan and caramel French toast.
I loved the food so much even the drinks tasted better. My orange juice came served in a glass with ice, which is now the only way I intend to drink it. My mother just had to ask where they bought their tea because it was so good. It turns out it was the same Lipton we brew at home but I guess when served in a mug from 1812 with a side of the Revolutionary War makes everything better, irony included.
After eating and taking time to appreciate the atmosphere it was time for a brief stroll. As I walked out towards the Tap Room musicians had started to play and I could smell the popcorn popping in the machine in the corner. It was like living in a another world for a brief time.
Once outside, I went in and out of the Griswold stores and walked down to the waters edge for some photos. As a final memento I stopped into the Essex Coffee and Tea company and purchased a pound of Caramel Nut coffee to bring home. It is so good to the last drop.
Prior to my coming to town, I had heard that the early 1960s gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows” had been partly filmed in Essex. I could see how that could be true. The small town beauty reminds me of the fictional Collinsport, Maine where those stories took place. When I actually saw on their website that it was true I was plotzing!!! The Griswold Inn stood in for the fictional Collinsport Inn.
As a die hard fan currently combing through all twenty-six seasons of the hit show it was beyond the perfect destination for me: historical, delicious, and as seen on TV!!
I also found out that nearby Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum was used as the Collinwood Mansion where the main family in that television story resided. The home dates back to the 1800s and is open to the public for those like me who wish to take a historic tour. I know now whence I am back in this town I will have to plan a visit.
For those of countless other fans out there this Inn has been used for numerous other entertaining films and shows like Indiana Jones and even Mad Men.
But my favorite reference has to be its place in a book I cherish as my bible; Patricia Schultz’s “One Thousand Places to See Before You Die”. I even saw a copy in their local store for sale. Thankfully I already had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Schultz (http://bit.ly/2rXFKEV) and had her autograph both of my copies of her book.
Dark Shadows or not; Essex, Connecticut and The Griswold Inn have stolen a piece of my heart. They will forever be a reminder of the charming places all over the U.S. that are still waiting for me.
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