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Fearless Critic restaurant review
New Haven
Baked goods, Groceries
Market

Hours
Mon–Fri 9:00am–7:00pm
Sat 9:00am–5:00pm

Features Veg-friendly
Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx

www.chestnutfinefoods.com

East Rock
1012 State St.
New Haven, CT
(203) 782-6767
Chestnut Fine Foods & Confections
A pretty Victorian shop for baked goods, prepared foods, and catering

Since our last review of Chestnut Fine Foods and Confections, the café has given way almost completely to its catering and retail business. It’s a smart move for the shop, which has been well known to New Haven for almost two decades. We still like the precious 19th-century building up State Street, whose interior is replete with low-hanging feathered lamps, pale pink walls, and other aunt’s-house frills. It feels like a whimsical tearoom.

The once-nonchalant service is gone, too, and what remains is a more competent, familial vibe. Indeed, this vibe has even gone so far as to provide Sunday brunch couples therapy with a licensed therapist (on their website; by reservation only). While it sounds like the plot of an NBC sitcom—nothing makes a man open up like quiche!—we applaud the innovative community involvement. What’s your bakery done for you lately?

Speaking of which, there’s still an abundance of very good artisanal breads and rolls, the shop’s best work. They bake a few every day, including flavors like carrot-tarragon and spinach-feta. There’s also a nice selection of imported and domestic cheeses from small farms.

The catering operation still plays within outdated borders, resting heavily on the time when Americans couldn’t get enough sugar. Think pork tenderloin with roasted nectarines (far sweeter than the more-often paired apricots) and glazed ham with brown sugar-roasted pineapple (Insulin! Bring us insulin!).

If you prefer your confections in a paper doily instead of on a duck breast, you’re still in luck. Chestnut’s cases are filled with glistening tarts, pies, and cookies (including some rather macabre hand-shaped ones with chocolate “fingernails”). These can get pretty pricey, but their gorgeous cakes, like chocolate ganache, can be a good deal (if you don’t eat them all by yourself).

They also make gift baskets out of their specialty goods, many of which are locally made for housewarmings, birthdays, and wedding showers. Not to be cynical, but it wouldn’t hurt to slip in a certificate good for one couples brunch…

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