Husband and I decided that we would take more trips away to utilize our time in the USA. After that discussion I booked several trips, and New Haven, Connecticut was just one of them.
New Haven has been a place high up on my list as I am a huge fan of Gilmore Girls, a tv show which based its story in Connecticut and focused around the lives of Lorelei and Rory Gilmore (mother and daughter). There must be something wrong with me as I have watched the entire Gilmore Girls series at least four-five times, and am half way through the series at the moment.
New Haven is easily accessible from Manhattan via train and is less than 2.5 hours away. This is another plus for us as we wanted to go places where we didn’t have to necessarily drive or fly to.
Highlights of our weekend:
- Catching the Metro North train from Grand Central Station to New Haven Station
- Visiting the Yale University Art Gallery
- Eating a hamburger at Louis’ Lunch
- Going on a Yale University tour
Catching the Metro North train from Grand Central Station
We caught a train early Saturday from Grand Central Station. When we arrived at the station, we were surprised to see a man wearing only his underwear getting his photo taken. From a conversation I overheard between a Grand Central security guard and the photographer, the half naked man was a ballet dancer and he was getting his photo taken. And that’s when I noticed there was actually a large group of ballet dancers preparing for their photo around the corner.
Click on the image above or here: https://youtu.be/8XQPDbT_gnY
The train was clean and comfortable, and there were power outlets at each set of seats. There was luggage storage and coat hooks above each set of seats.
Originally I had booked us on an Amtrak train but later found out that I could take the Metro North train, which was great, as the Metro North was nearly a third of the price of the Amtrak.
Price comparison: Amtrak – $176 (leaving at set times) vs Metro North train – $61.76 (essentially off-peak tickets where we could take any off-peak train).
Louis’ Lunch – 261-263 Crown Street New Haven, CT 06511-6611
“The beginnings of the hamburger sandwich as we all know it today was really quite simple. One day in 1900, a gentleman hurriedly walked into Louis’ Lunch and told proprietor Louis Lassen he was in a rush and wanted something he could eat on the run. In an instant, Louis placed his own blend of ground steak trimmings between two slices of toast and sent the gentleman on his way. And so, the most recognizable American sandwich was born.
Today, Louis’ great grandson, Jeff Lassen, carries on the tradition. The hamburgers have changed little from their historic prototype and remain the specialty of the house. Burgers are made fresh daily; hand-rolled from a proprietary blend of five meat varieties and cooked to order in the original cast-iron grills dating back to 1898. The Lassen family hold firm on their desire not to offer any condiments. The Louis Lunch experience is about the taste and simplicity of a fresh burger grilled to perfection. Cheese, tomato, and onion are the only acceptable garnish.”
Louis Lunch store is a small little brick building on Crown Street.
Note the very limited menu. Hamburger or Cheeseburger, with tomatoes or onion.
Old school seating inside the building
Cash only. Orders taken down on pieces of plain A4 paper and the order is scratched off when completed. Note the old cast iron grills in the last photo.
The burgers are served medium rare unless you request otherwise.
We waited about 15 minutes until we were able to order. And then waited another 30-40 minutes for our hamburgers. The burgers themselves were not bad, although I am not a medium rare person, so I had to just shove my hamburger into my mouth without thinking too much about the rare mince I could see between the two slices of bread I had in front of me. Now I know what I would have to do if I was to eat weird stuff like scorpions or cockroaches.
Overall: I would not go back in a hurry, for several reasons such as
a) it took waaay too long – and I understand that each burger is made to order using the old school way so unless I had an hour spare, the wait time is too much.
b) the men behind the counter were pretty rude. Obviously they don’t need to try hard because the establishment is well-known and they have the whole ‘first hamburger’ marketing going for them – but that doesn’t mean they can be buttmunches because of that.
c) the hamburger mince was well seasoned… but this hamburger is not far from what the Aussies have at a sausage sizzle but instead of a hotdog made with a sausage wrapped with a piece of white bread, it would be a meat patty between two pieces of white bread. This is probably the easiest food for me to replicate at home – half cooked meat patty with some raw onion and liquid cheese, between two slices of lightly toasted white bread.
Yale University Art Gallery
The Yale University Art Gallery was extremely impressive and the collection of art was extensive.
I know nothing of art, so I will not attempt to distract you with some photos taken of the art inside the gallery.
One of my favourite pieces was this fancy pants clock which the security guard pointed out to me while I was walking past. He told me to google a video which would show how the clock worked. And I am so glad that he did, otherwise I would have never known that when the clock is wound, the chariot moves along on its wheels, with the illusion that the two cat looking animals at the front is pulling it, and the eyes of the person carrying the bow moves and the bow is shot!
Yale University tour
The Yale tour was probably the thing I most looked forward to. Once we arrived at the visitor center, we were placed in a room where we watched a video of why students chose Yale – extremely cheesy, but catchy.
Our tour guide was called Edwin, who is an international student from Ghana.
Theodore Dwight Woolsey
Rub his left foot for good luck.
Branford College is where Rory went!!!
Handsome Dan – the Yale bulldog mascot
Overall – I would do the Yale tour again. There was a lot of stuff said but I can’t really remember much so you will have to use the links provided above.
The only thing I do remember is that one of their libraries were designed to look like a memorial.. or cathedral.
Sterling Memorial Library:
During our visit we ate and drank at:
JoJo’s – for coffee where I was given full cream milk instead of soy as per my order… not a great start to the day
Louis Lunch – hamburger as noted above
Barracuda Bistro & Bar – dinner where we had a salad, fried yukka, lobster tacos, plantains, and caramel churros
Blue State Coffee – for a bagel
And we stayed at the The Study at Yale which I personally thought was over-priced for a boutique hotel which charged approx $330 per night where there was no tea or coffee facilities in the room, little things like shower cap or toothbrush. But considering we saved a lot on the train fare, it was justified. I would not return based on the price.
In summary, our New Haven night away was lovely. We had a great time walking around everywhere (we even found the Ikea near the train station). And to note – there is a nice New Haven area (near the uni) and a not so nice area (everywhere but the uni) – similar to our experience in DC.