This is a very tired, old-school vegetarian restaurant that has a menu hopelessly stuck in the 1970s. For the most part, it's hummus-heavy and boring and the food is woefully undercooked, under-spiced and overly basic.
I first had their "Huevos Javier" ($8) made with tofu. It was basically just spinach, blocks of tofu, beans, tortilla chips and some Pace Picante salsa mixed in a dish. Nothing was cooked, there was no spices, and little flavor.
The next day, wanting to give them another shot, I had their tofu scramble ($8). This dish was similarly bland: tofu lightly sauteed in olive oil, with some veggies on the side. No spice, no garlic, no garam masala, no turmeric to add that yellow color, nothing.
In short, this is vegetarian food at its American infancy in the 1970s.
Since my initial visits I've gone back to try other items. Their top gigio sandwich, modified with some chipotle soy chicken, is not bad: it's hefty, with some flaky bread, and lots of garlic and fragrant eggplant. It's pricey at nearly $10, though. The veggie burgers aren't great; they're dry and bland. Similarly, their burritos are lamentable. Their R&B burrito consists of huge amounts of refried beans with soggy brown rice stuffed into a burrito. Nothing else. No vegetables, no vegan cheese, no interesting sauces (their salsa on the side tasted like Pace Picante sauce).
The vegan baked goods here are decent, but only when fresh. Often times they get dry when sitting out. Try their lemon-almond-coconut loaves (they also make one with chocolate chips).
The menu is huge, and takes a long while to interpret (which causes confusion and backups at the counter area), but nothing really stands out, especially not for vegans.
Claire's needs to add more mockmeats to the menu (veggie sausage, fakin bacon, etc.) and some cheese analogs (Daiya or nut cheeses) and offer things like breakfast sandwiches on bagels with these ingredients. It also needs to learn how to use spices (particularly garlic and ginger, garam masala, cumin, cloves, curry leaves, etc.) and to properly cook its dishes, rather than lightly sauteeing everything.
While I appreciate Claire's staying power (it's been around since 1975), and its central location in New Haven, the food here just doesn't cut it.