Tight Ship

Tight Ship

Docked on the eastern bank of its namesake, tucked behind an ear of the Grand Avenue Bridge, the Q River Grill, hard-opened in January, is a commercial island in a residential neighborhood, a place you’re only likely to find if you’ve already charted a course to it.

That’s what I did after a reader sent us a tip, finding a dining room that’s equal parts white walls and dark wood if you count a burled tile floor. A gray stone fireplace anchors one corner, and a pair of masts float sideways across the ceiling next to fans bladed with sails. Out back I scoped a long deck with a yacht-white bar, rigging a promise in my mind to return in summer.

sponsored by

Crafting Worldviews at the Yale University Art Gallery

For now, the bar inside looked plenty promising. I plunked down and ordered the Shipwrecked ($14), a non-piña colada that subs coconut liqueur for crema de coco and, though it keeps the juice, jettisons the pineapple. Pale gold like the first part of a sunset, the drink held coconut waves and, from somewhere, a banana undercurrent, using a crosscurrent of tart, sweet lime juice to disperse a boozy wake.

Next I ordered the Impossible Burger ($14), one of a few vegan options on a menu that pitches American and yaws Italian, from bar apps and salads to sandwiches, personal pizzas and traditional sit-down entrees. The ever-impressive Impossible patty was nice and meaty, charred with grill marks and covered on one side with melty, salty cheese. The chef had also put the split ciabatta bun on the grill, crisping up the insides so the outside could stay chewy and fluffy. A classic mix of romaine, tomato and red onion leant freshness, texture and acid, and while it was easy enough to peel away the bun and add some simple ketchup, I would’ve preferred that the chef take command of the saucing.

I had no complaints at all about the fries on the side. They were thick and fluffy and just a little crispy, with good potato flavor and skin on the ends, tossed in a simple but expert blend of salt and pepper.

A restaurant needs a committed crew to stand a chance on the high seas, and the service I got at the bar, spanning two servers across a shift change, was stellar: attentive, not pushy; authentically friendly.

My recommendation? Pull out your map and mark this spot with an X.

Q River Grill
3-5 Clifton St, New Haven (map)
Tues-Sun 11:30am-9pm
(203) 823-9542

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

More Stories