New Haven Restaurant Review: Prime 16

New on the blog: New Haven restaurant and attraction reviews to help guide RuffleCon attendees in their dining choices for the weekend of the conference.

Prime 16 storefront in New Haven

Prime 16 is a welcoming pub-style restaurant across the street from the Omni Hotel in New Haven. The menu of this tap house features classic American fare like salads and sandwiches, all of which possess an innovative gourmet flair. Sixteen impressive burger choices, along with a build-your-own option featuring pretzel rolls and grilled pineapple (among classic toppings) lend credence to their billing as a burger joint, and an array of seasonal local beers of various prices prove that they’re more than deserving of their tap house label as well.

Prime 16 New Haven's dining room creates a warmly elegant ambiance.

The atmosphere at Prime 16 is upscale yet casual; warm wood flooring, plush leather booths, and low lighting create an air of old-fashioned elegance, but it retains a comfortable, homey ambiance from the service and food. The chalkboard beer lists were easily visible from all over the restaurant, and listed the companies, origins, and alcohol content for each of the seasonal beers. Our server was polite and knowledgeable, and fairly attentive for a busy evening.

Prime16draft1

If you’re an aficionado, Prime’s beer selection is definitely an excellent reason to stop by. The selection of local, domestic, and international beers was one of the best I’ve seen in town, and that’s saying something for a city like New Haven (which is quite well-known in the area for being a hipster-ridden college town). Ranging from your typical stouts and lagers to an enticing banana bread brew, the seasonal selection for this autumn looks dangerous for someone who lives within walking distance like me. The cocktail menu was also incredibly tempting, with reimagined classics alongside house specials. However, something to keep in mind is that, while I’ve seen more expensive drinks in this city, remember that that’s exactly where you are: a city, and a mostly affluent one at that. Prices were reasonable, but certainly reflected the population’s pay scale.

A burger and onion rings at Prime 16

As is true of any good dining experience, the food itself was the star of the show. I ordered the Bourbon Stout Chicken Sandwich (grilled chicken, pepper jack cheese, applewood smoked bacon, and lettuce and tomato drizzled in a house-made bourbon stout barbecue sauce on brioche, as they were out of ciabatta), and my date got the Vermont Chicken Wrap (chicken, cheddar, aforementioned applewood smoked bacon, grilled apple, sauteed onions, and honey Dijon in a whole wheat wrap). Both came with a choice of side salad, french fries, or Cajun fries.

Eating the sandwiches was a curious experience; the first bite of both was relatively underwhelming, but as we continued eating the flavors built on the palate, becoming more complex and rich with every subsequent bite. While both sandwiches were excellent, as were our accompanying beers, I did find my chicken to be slightly bland; it was clear that it had not been marinated and had been grilled “naked,” so the flavor of the barbecue sauce hadn’t had any time to soak into the meat and flavor it further. Despite that, the full plate was well worth the price tag, which was very reasonable for a restaurant in its area. Stuffed and satisfied, we were actively disappointed that we didn’t have room to try their seasonal dessert (which, at the time, was a blueberry white chocolate bread pudding and probably would’ve been my favorite thing ever).

Prime 16's logo is incorporated interestingly into the restaurant's decor.

At this point, I’m steadily clearing my way through the New Haven restaurant scene, and even though this was one of the first restaurants I dined at on this project, I’d still say that it’s my favorite by far. Between the food, the beer, and the ambiance, this is definitely a restaurant I’ll be returning to time and again, and I hope it’s one that everyone makes an effort to check out during the conference weekend! It couldn’t be more convenient to get to, either- it’s located directly across the street from the Omni, our conference hotel.

Photos courtesy of Prime 16

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