Topic: Food

Perils of the Restaurant Reviewer

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I’ve reviewed restaurants that have closed while the magazine was at the printer. It happens. It’s usually a new place that was under-financed. Or, sadly, a fire or divorce or other tragedy has forced a quick closing. But Randall’s Ordinary? The place was built in 1685.

Before anyone writes its obituary, though, I’m not entirely certain the place is closed for good. Here’s what happened.

I was planning to review it for our November/December issue, to point readers toward a place for an old-fashioned traditional New England Thanksgiving meal. At Randall’s (in Stonington, Connecticut), they cook over the hearth fire in traditional period costumes — in a charming and earnest way, not a creepy theme-park way. And the food is good. Not over-the-top gourmet by any stretch, but a good meal that offers a lot historically. In fact, I was inspired by Randall’s to cook in the hearth at my parents’ place in Vermont. (They have a hook and spider in their old fireplace; I made stew and it was good.)

So I logged onto Randall’s Web site and it kept connecting me to Foxwoods. I thought, Curious — of all places, Foxwoods . . . Fly in the ointment? (Or perhaps ghost in the machine — I’ve heard Randall’s is haunted.) Tried the number, disconnected. Called Foxwoods, so they’d know about the quirk, and it turns out . . . the Mashantucket Pequot tribe owns the inn and restaurant. No word on what the plan is, but I’ll update you when I know.

As for my November/December restaurant review — I’m still going for a traditional location, but the cuisine is far from old-fashioned. Where, you say? You’ll have to wait, now won’t you?

  • Randall’s Ordinary has closed . It was initially run as a restaurant by the Clark family. It was later sold to Foxwoods. We went to Randall’s after it was sold by the Clarks, and were very disappointed with both the food and the dining experience.

    Bill Clark sent the following to the New London Day in March 2006–

    To The Editor Of The Day:

    Randall’s Ordinary has passed. It had lingered on after a terminal illness, occupying its existence in its centuries-old farmstead in North Stonington. It came into our lives in 1985, created 200 years before by John Randall and nurtured by the Perry family from the 1920s. It leaves its founders, the Clark family, with a vast treasure of memories. Our extended family of employees and customers will forever share Randall’s past together. The spirit of Randall’s Ordinary continues. Calling hours for Randall’s Ordinary are open to all, sharing advised.

    The Randall property has had many existences. Time and society are its catalysts for change. The Ordinary had its life and now moves on, as I have moved in and out of Randall’s being. Doors have been opened, doors closed.

    With all my heart, I wish for the doors of change to bring a new life to Randall’s again.

    Bill Clark


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