A couple of years ago I tasted the best cookie I’ve ever eaten. I quit eating meat and had just started working at a popular New Haven vegetarian restaurant, Claire’s Corner Copia, which is where I experienced the uniquely vegan cookie. Ariel, a coworker of mine, informed me that those were “Everything but the Kitchen Sink” cookies, a soft, raisin-filled sweet oat concoction for vegans with a sweet tooth. By the end of the day the rest of the cookies had vanished, but that didn’t stop dessert lovers, both vegan and non-vegan, from enjoying the other sugary confections made with love in Claire’s kitchen.
Cleverly located amongst the pricey coffeehouse chains and decadent restaurants near the New Haven Green, Claire’s Corner Copia’s dessert options give this fast-paced food district a run for their money. Competing against its neighbor, Starbucks, Claire’s won first place for “Restaurant with Best Desserts” in Best of New Haven 2009, and the café continues to uphold its community prestige since its opening in 1975 with its organic, gluten-free options and a dessert exhibit that you can’t miss at the door. Founders Claire Criscuolo and husband Frank Criscuolo, owner of Basta Trattoria next door, give back to the community by donating ten percent of their proceeds to charity. For years they have worked to develop the diverse restaurant that doubles as a bakery and cafe in the daytime.
At the register, you may be asked if you want coffee with your dessert, and if you’re in search of the freshest brew downtown, it may be impossible to refuse. Claire’s Corner Copia is best known for its Lithuanian Coffee Cake that the May issue of Connecticut Magazine coined as “one of the 50 foods you need to eat before you die.” The gooey brown sugar streaks combined with walnuts, raisins and coffee grounds are hard to pass up for only $4.40 a slice and an additional $.50 for extra butter cream frosting. It continues to be a bona fide classic with fans.
In the “Letter from our beloved customers” section of the restaurant’s website, Angie, a student, wrote:
“I’m a Yale student and I’d first like to say that Claire’s is my favorite restaurant in the whole world. As a vegetarian, I love being able to walk in and have the entire menu at my bidding for once! Today I had the nachos Del Alma, which was generously sprinkled with cheese and a host of delicious veggies…and of course a perfect slice of Lithuanian Coffee Cake with extra EXTRA butter cream frosting (I think I’m addicted!).”
That’s the best part about Claire’s – while well-known for desserts, it doubles as a vegetarian restaurant, serving up hot dishes like Huevos Rancheros, which go for $9.00 a plate, and Eggplant Couscous, a vegetarian favorite. Their freshly made smoothies aren’t much to brag about with the exception of the Brazilian Vitamina, a blend of avocados, bananas and wheat germ oil, which is an exotic treat. Overall, if you are in search of a casual atmosphere with the finishing touches of a lemonade stand, you’ll enjoy Claire’s.
There is now a $10.00 minimum if you would like to pay with your Visa or MasterCard, but most meal prices fall slightly below this amount, leaving a bit more to spend on some of Claire’s infamous sweet treats. The never-ending options will make you want to order “Everything but the Kitchen Sink”.
Take Claire up on her “Tax Relief” cup of coffee on Tuesday, April 17!
From Claire’s website: “After the stress of filing and paying our taxes, we think we’re going to need a good cup of coffee! Come to Claire’s Corner Copia on Tuesday, April 17, from 8 AM – 10 AM and from 3PM – 5PM for a FREE CUP of COFFEE – Choose from our Organic Fair Trade Mexican Coffee or Cinnamon, Hazelnut, deep-roast French, or Decaf Mexican or Cinnamon.”
Claire’s Corner Copia is located at 1000 Chapel Street in New Haven, Connecticut and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Mon-Thu 8am-9pm, Fri 8am-10pm, Sat 9am-10pm and Sun 9am-9pm. Visit Claire’s website at clairescornercopia.com or call (203)562-3888.