Dad's has been a coastal Connecticut classic for decades.
Dad’s is long-time favorite of people who have flocked to the seaside resort town of Niantic. Owners Patricia Waddington and daughters Dede Waddington and Dawn Londregan have ensured that the fried seafood emporium has remained a “shoreline tradition since 1963.”
Picnic tables flank Dad’s covered dining room, which is strictly order-at-the-window.
Table service is a rarity at casual New England seafood spots like Dad’s. In the summer, so are employees over age 18.
Niantic Bay resides just across the train tracks and hosts a walking path, a beach, Millstone Nuclear Power Plant and a green hilltop park called McCook’s Point, former home of the WWII era “fighting McCooks.”
Whole Belly Seafood Dinners ($22.95 each) included onion rings, French fries, cole slaw, fried bay scallops, clam bellies and strips, shrimp and Pollock.
For dipping purposes, we received tartar and cocktail sauces. The juicy shrimp and scallops paired well with the crispy batter. Unfortunately, the clam bellies weren’t cleaned as well as I’d hoped, with spots of dirt and sand build-up. The fries were respectable, and the cole slaw was very good, not too creamy and seasoned with spicy horseradish.
We also ordered the Hot Lobster Roll ($12.95) with drawn butter. Succulent claw and tail meat was recognizable, but what was up with those chewy pieces that looked like bay shrimp?
New England Clam Chowder (cup, $3.25) was voted unauthentic by the locals I was dining with, who thought the clams probably came from a can.
Near Dad’s twin entrances, open-mouthed animal shaped garbage can covers, an elephant and a hippo, tout signs that read, “Please feed the animals.”
Dad’s was a classic New England seafood spot. Some of the sea creatures could have tasted better, but the total effect was positive, the setting was terrific and it was fun to be there.