An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Aug 22, 2013
03:20 PMThe Connecticut Table
New Haven Open Tennis Tournament as Dining, Imbibing Hotspot? Yes, Indeed
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Ooh La La, subtitled “wine’s new style,” is a fresh, easy-drinking line of California wines, and the Ooh La La Wine Bar features wines like Rex Goliath pinot noir, Ooh La La chardonnay and rose and Wild Horse chardonnay and merlot, at either $8 or $9 a glass. To accompany them, there are cheese boards ($10) and bites like chips, salsa and guacamole.
If wine and vodka-based drinks aren’t your thing, Goose Island Beer Company is the Open’s beer partner and its Chicago craft beers are featured. Van Tuinen notes that Stella Artois has brought a hard cider “that’s really nice.”
Guests who want to up the level a notch can opt for that Emirates Garden Club, and those with weeklong box seats enjoy the hospitality of the Boxholder Restaurant. In addition to suites, where food is ordered in—Carbone’s caters for the stadium, the suites and the players—the Open also has the Courtside Club, which Van Tuinen says is “more of an entertainment aspect for us.”
It was there Wednesday evening that one of the Open’s more popular events took place. The listing on the tournament website says it all:
“COMFORT FOOD & COCKTAILS (Session 7) 5:00-7:30pm. Satisfy your culinary and libation cravings in the Courtside Club, overlooking Stadium Court and sample the expert skills of New Haven's most exciting chefs as they put their own spin on comfort food. From sweet to savory, foodies will enjoy favorites reimagined by: Zinc, Ibiza, Heirloom, Union League Cafe, Caseus, Claire's Corner Copia, Basta Trattoria, John Davenport's and L'Orcio. Cocktails by 116 Crown and Ordinary. Tickets are $125 and include a Courtside Box Seat tickets. SOLD OUT!”
Above right, left to right, owner, executive chef of the Union League Cafe Jean Pierre Vuillermet, Jacques Pepin and Governor Dannel Malloy are photographed at the Comfort Food & Cocktails event at the New Haven Open at Yale on 8/21/2013.
And then there’s the Mayor’s Passport to Downtown Dining, which has 24 participating restaurants teaming with the Open to offer free meals to players—women used to sophisticated dining options in cosmopolitan places all over the world.
“It’s a way for the players to experience the great food in downtown New Haven,” says Van Tuinen, who admits that it’s both an incentive for the players to come back to play in New Haven and a bit of a drawing card for guests to potentially dine in the glow of some tennis world star power.
“Want to dine alongside the pros? Dine at any of the participating Mayor's Passport to Downtown Dining restaurants and you may be sitting close by to the players in the main draw,” the website description of the “very popular” initiative says in part.
The leading restaurants this year in terms of visits by players, according to Van Tuinen, are Miso, with 12 visits and Barcelona with nine visits. Meanwhile, the player in the lead, with seven visits as of Wednesday, is Yaroslava Shvedova, who has enjoyed Barcelona, Basta, Geronimo, Heirloom, Miso, Soul de Cuba and Thali.
As much as all that dining is a big draw for the New Haven Open at Yale, the tennis is still the main attraction, and for fans of the women’s game this has to be one of the best tournaments around. Only seats on the lower level are sold, meaning that everyone sees the action up close. As for matches on the outlying courts—like the doubles Wednesday in which Silvia Soler-Espinosa and Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain defeated Shuko Aoyama of Japan and Andreja Klepac of Slovenia —you can almost reach out and touch the players.
What’s the takeaway? Given all that—and given that it takes an hour or less to get to the tournament from a huge chunk of Connecticut—it’s the perfect pleasant surprise experience to connect with before it wraps up this weekend.
“It’s a summer outing” that’s also purposefully child-friendly, says Van Tuinen, who loves nighttime tennis under the lights, along with—yes—all that great food. Before the tournament ended, he vowed this week, he planned to enjoy at least one SVEDKA Orange Cream Pop Smash (shown here).
Everything you need to know to connect is online at the Open’s website.