John Davenport’s Restaurant, At the Top of the Park

Nineteen floors above downtown New Haven, at the top of the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, the only thing that rivals the view at John Davenport’s Restaurant is the food.

For as long as anyone can remember, there’s always been a restaurant atop the hotel. Originally called the Top of the Park when Omni first took over 14 years ago, it was renamed in honor of one of New Haven’s founders about nine years ago.

Although Davenport’s is in the middle of a search for a new executive chef, Wayne Kirsten, director of food and beverage, continues the current focus on “seafood friendly, seafood forward,” emphasizing local ingredients. “Because we are part of a hotel we get a lot of international people coming in,” he says. “This for many is the only snapshot of New England, so we want to bring New England to the forefront and expose them to New England foods.” The scallops are often from Georges Bank or Nantucket Bay, the lobsters are from Maine, other items from Vermont and Long Island, as well as Connecticut and of course, New Haven.

Although the scallops and other seafood are favorites, they offer more than just seafood. A chophouse menu features steak, burgers – like the popular John Davenport’s burger with blue Stilton cheese, caramelized balsamic onions – and comfort food. A favorite is the grilled cheese made with fig bread from Whole G Bread in New Haven and sour cherry jam from Gracious Gourmet of Bridgewater.

Davenport’s has become a favorite spot for a special brunch or breakfast. Who can beat their Art of Breakfast high above New Haven with that breathtaking view? “We understand the importance of breakfast being the first meal of the day,” says Kirsten, “and sets the day up for success.” The bar transforms into food stations that include omelettes, a carvery, and a European-style bread-and-butter bar with various spreads (from Vermont butter and goat cheese, LeMott’s honey from Torrington, to Nutella), as well as an entire gluten-free station with a dedicated gluten-free toaster for muffins and the like. The eggs are cage-free, the meats hormone-free, and they even offer a signature sausage made just for them with blueberries in it. The topper is the Bloody Mary bar. Davenport’s supplies the vodka, the diner goes up to the bar and adds their own amount of Tabasco, horseradish, and anything else that piques their interest.

“New Haven is a growing dining destination, and we want to be part of that,” Kirsten says. With their food and that view that stretches to surrounding towns, they are positioned to do just that.

Mara Lavitt

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Restaurant Website: http://johndavenports.com/

• The Detes: 155 Temple St., New Haven. 203-772-6664. Breakfast: daily, 6:30 or 7 a.m. – 10 or 11 a.m., Sunday brunch 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Lunch: Saturday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Dinner: daily 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Food at the bar until 11 p.m.
• Price Range: Breakfast $5 – $22 (for the breakfast buffet), appetizers $7-21, salads $10 – 14, sandwiches $9 – 18, entrees $19 – 32, bar menu $7 – 19.

• Style of Food:  Contemporary American with an emphasis on seafood

• Favorite dishes: Seared diver scallops, Maine lobster tempura, John Davenport’s burger.

• Drinks: Bar 19 serves food 4:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.

• Catering/Events: The restaurant has multiple function rooms; they cater out as well.

• Vegetarian/Gluten Free available: Yes

• Outdoor seating: Nope, it’s a 19-floor drop, but there are great views from nearly every table.

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