The Boston Post Road is one of the busiest roads in the nation. It’s easy to get caught up in the abundance of shops and restaurants that line both sides through most of Connecticut. Sometimes, it’s preferable to the high-speed mad rush of I 95. But every now and then, it’s a good idea to drive closer to the shore into the charming areas of Branford and other coastal towns for a more scenic, enjoyable drive.
It was one of those drives that took me on Cedar Street all the way to Main last Veteran’s Day. Branford honored their loved ones in uniform on the green in front of the Town Hall. Most notable were the hundreds of small US flags standing in the centuries old sacred ground. In the background, the beautiful Trinity Episcopal Church reached for the blue sky pointing at the way of salvation. The old English Gothic edifice stood as majestic and bright as the last time I’d seen it.
My wife, Sheri, and I made our way down the brick sidewalks of Main Street, absorbing the small town ambiance. We nodded in greeting and smiled back at friendly people caught up in the festive mood.
At the corner of Ivy, we decided to walk into the Shoreline Cafe for a bite to eat. We let several people order before us, for we needed more than a few minutes to browse at the chalked menus. We were in awe of the variety of choices, and almost couldn’t get past the desserts behind the glass. Every platter on display looked fresh and succulent. We knew we were in trouble.
After living away from Connecticut for thirteen years, any time I ate seafood, I’d think of home but this time, the food at the Shoreline Cafe was about to take me back to the days of my childhood, particularly warm Sundays when my mother made us Ceviche de Camarón, a tasty traditional shrimp dish from the coast that’s one of a kind. Much to my surprise, the platter was labeled with the same word, but what were the chances of coming across one of Ecuador’s most memorable traditional dishes in Branford, Connecticut?
The very first bite flooded me with memories of another life. Nothing had ever tasted so fresh, so delectable. That robust mix of fresh tomato and chopped red onion in lime and oil, along with the satisfying blend of cooked shrimp, (and whatever magic touch from the incomparable Wilson Jara), was simply mouth-watering. It’s something you’ve got to try.
Since then, I’ve visited the Shoreline Cafe as often as I can. It can be a busy little place, and with good reason. The food is excellent, the servers are kind, polite, and efficient. I must also note the coffee is terrific. The artwork hanging on the pale yellow walls give it a sophisticated air reminiscent of a posh coffeehouse in New York City minus the old dusty couches and dim lighting found in the Big Apple. The Shoreline Cafe is alive with light pouring in through its picture windows, and the staff excels at maintaining a pristine setting for the next customer to walk through the door.
It’s easy to carry a conversation with friends while savoring one of the many stuffed breads, digging into a slice of red velvet cake or enjoying a fresh salad if you’re into healthy eating. For those with a healthy appetite, good luck making a choice between the pasta dishes like the Gnocchi Pomodoro with shrimp and the Tortolini Carbonara with chicken. I usually don’t get past the breakfast part of the menu, but I’m on my way to trying every single item.
I’ve enjoyed the quiet little corner by the window where I’ve done some work, tweaking another chapter in a novel while savoring the taste of Ceviche, which evokes fond memories of my days as a kid running on the sands of Esmeraldas and Manabi in my homeland. Can’t beat it. Traditional Ecuadorian seafood in a quaint Cafe near the shore in Branford, Connecticut… It’s good to be home again.