Thursday, August 25, 2005

New Haven, CT

Description: New Haven, Connecticut

How I Got There: Car - I-91 South to Exit 1 (Downtown New Haven)

What I Did: Shopped at Ikea, ate at my first vegetarian restaurant, and walked the downtown area surrounding Yale

I spent my day off from work with my friend, T. Earlier in the week, it somehow came up in conversation T had never been to Ikea in New Haven. Considering how many trips E and I made there after it opened last year, I was in shock. We quickly agreed to make New Haven our destination.

New Haven is the site of New England's only Ikea. Prior to its opening in 2004, New England Ikea fans had to drive to New Jersey or New York ... not so bad if you live in Connecticut ... really bad if you live in Maine. Since New Haven is a college town (Yale University and Southern Connecticut State University, among others), I think it's a great location for Ikea.

T and I browsed the showroom on the top floor of Ikea, stopping from time to time to jot down details of a "wish list" item for a future purchase. We then went downstairs to Market Hall, and I got a few kitchen items. T didn't end up getting anything at Ikea.

We headed to downtown New Haven to have lunch (details below). Afterward, we walked a few blocks to the Yale Bookstore. We then walked back toward where we parked and checked out some great stores on Chapel Street.

  • Atticus Bookstore/Cafe (1082 Chapel St., 203.776.4040) - A window display of loaves of bread got our attention, so we went inside. T got some Chabaso country sourdough bread.
  • Wave Gallery (1046 Chapel St., 203.624.3032) - Right as we were about to walk by, T realized she had heard about the gallery on the radio and wanted to go in. I'm so glad we did - it was full of unique gifts, artwork, cards, books, and other wonderful items.
  • Urban Objects/Urban Baby (1022 Chapel Street, 203.865.5236) - Their window display caught our eye ... specifically a very hip diaper bag by Petunia Pickle Bottom (yes, that's really the name!) Mind you, neither one of us is pregnant, but we just had to look. Once inside, we realized the store has some great home and baby items.

What I Ate: Claire's Corner Copia (1000 Chapel Street, 203.562.3888)

Claire's Corner Copia is a vegetarian restaurant which has been around since 1975. According to their website, Claire's serves "totally delicious food with lots of great multi-ethnic choices, including Italian, Mexican and Middle Eastern food that's healthy for you, all natural, vegetarian and sustainable foods".

Claire's menu is written on blackboards posted on the wall and details of specials are written on dry-erase boards nearby. Baked goods - from double layer carrot cake to Lithuanian coffee cake - are displayed behind a short glass wall, and they all looked amazing.

You place your order at the register, and they ask for your name. After grabbing your own napkins and silverware, you find a seat and wait until your name is called. When that happens, you raise your hand, and a friendly Claire's server delivers your food to your table. When you're done eating, you bus your own table by taking your dirty dishes to an area by the kitchen. It may sound a bit confusing, but it's easy to figure out once you're there, and everyone seems to comply with the "please clear your own table" signs.

After perusing the menu for a while, T decided on an Albacore melt, and I ordered a grilled vegetable sandwich on a whole wheat roll with a sun dried tomato/feta spread. Our sandwiches were delicious and huge - neither one of us was able to finish our meal, and sadly, we had no room left for dessert.


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