Claire's Corner Copia

New Haven Area, Connecticut


Image for mark mathew braunstein

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News about Claire's! Recently in 2014, Claire's dipped its toes into the 21st Century and increased its proportion of vegan entrées, as well as began offering vegan cheese as an option to all its cow cheese dishes. (Until now, you could substitute cow cheese with blah tofu). Took a while for Claire's to get here, as until around 1999, Ms. Claire used to offer tuna, but removed it from the menu, maybe upon opening her upscale meat restaurant next door. While a chef need not be veghead to creatively cook veggies, still it's unsettling that Ms. Claire is a carnivore at heart.

Most other vegan reviewers berate this place, which I can understand, but I would rate it "fair" rather than "terrible." You simply must pick and choose wisely from among its extensive menu. On the plus side, you can view some of the standard entrees and most of the specials in a display case near the registers, and doing so is more edifying than the inscriptions on the wall boards. The noise level inside compares to a college dining hall, and the seating is cramped and uncomfortable, so don’t bring your date here. But if you sit by a window you can enjoy the view of the Yale University and New Haven community parading by, and thereby take your mind off the bland, industrial-quality food, in which case you can actually enjoy sitting here.

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I look forward to my trips to New Haven and enjoying Claire's for lunch. Great varieties and plenty of action (people are always coming and going for their great choices).

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Oh, Claire's. I feel uneasy leaving a bad review for anyone, but I know that Claire's does such good business with Yale students that this won't really hurt them in the long run.

The food at Claire's is cooked ahead of time, with way too much oil and sits for days. When you order a special, it is taken from the cooler and reheated, usually to being overcooked and greasy. I have had some decent dishes at Claire's but only once in a great while. I have only returned because you can get a really big (over priced) salad there and their soups tend to be delicious (if you can handle the oil overload).

Don't even think about ordering the tofu scramble. It is laughable that they even offer it on their menu. It is more like an after thought than an actual dish- barely edible.

And why do they play that classical music so LOUD?

Image for conde.kedar

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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.

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Claire's certainly isn't like it used to be. Everything seems to be rather expensive for the lack of flavor that you get. They give a "vegan" option but make mistakes regularly. I live in the area and can tell anyone that Claire's isn't worth going to anymore. Eat something cheaper and more flavorful than a bed of plain raw veggies on a plate.

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i love it at claire's <3

Image for Lola

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I used to really like this place when I was vegetarian (but not vegan). I recently went back for the first time in 10 years and was disappointed to see that there was almost nothing that I could eat. Well, ok, there were things that I could eat, but who really wants to go to a vegetarian restaurant just to eat a salad or veggies on a pita?

There are a number of menu items that are labeled "vegan optional" but this does not mean that they'll put soy cheddar on your sandwich instead of real cheddar - it just means that they'll leave off the cheese. I was so irritated when I found this out that I just left the restaurant without ordering anything, so my rating of "terrible" has nothing to do with how the vegan food actually tastes (I wouldn't know), it simply expresses my frustration that this well-known vegetarian restaurant doesn't have any worthwhile vegan options.

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I used to go here but they don't have anything for me to eat and they don't seem to care. I have spoken to Claire but still no changes. For my vegan diet I go the Edge of the Woods or Duck Soup. I have vegan choices and I don't walk away disappointed.

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Claire's has been around for so long and yet it does not seem to change. I am distressed by the inclusion of fish on the menu and most things seem to have cheese on them, which, depending on the rennet, wouldn't even be vegetarian. Eating at Claire's for a vegan is like eating at any other restaurant where you look for the one or two things you can eat. It's a great place for omnivores and for those people who call themselves "vegetarian" and still eat chicken and fish.

Image for Ramona

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When I walked in, I was unpleasantly surprised to see how few things on the menu were vegan. It was breakfast time, and they don't serve anything off the regular menu, so I ordered one of the two vegan items off the breakfast menu. The tofu scramble I had was much much worse than any other tofu scramble I've ever had. The tofu did not have any spices or flavor. It looked like big white chunks of gelatinous tofu on a fancy white plate. It did have a few bits of vegetables but these had no flavor or texture. It was so gross that although I was really hungry and had paid $8 for it, I couldn't finish it.

This place might be good for vegetarians, but it is bad for vegans. It makes veganism seem hard by charging extra for soy milk, not offering easy vegan dishes (e.g. I can't believe that they don't have any vegan desserts!! How hard can it be to make one vegan cookie??), refusing to make other simple things vegan, and finally making the few vegan dishes (or at least the ones I tried) without much flavor, texture, or taste.

Image for Gregory

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Almost everything has cheese in it, and most items without cheese don't taste good. They will only make vegan desserts if you request them the day before, as "vegan desserts don't keep well." For better vegan food in New Haven, visit one of the many ethnic restaurants or just about anywhere else. This place only promotes the notion that being vegan is a sacrifice.

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