Chef David Standridge greets our table wearing his trademark New York Yankees hat (a bit of an outlier on the Connecticut East Coast) and suggests we try the smelt. If the first development was fun, the second left me perplexed. Smelt? Really? To borrow the phraseology of those who live much further inland: “it’s not food, it’s what the food eats!” I trusted the chef, tried the fried smelt, and then felt a strong urge to eat everything else on The Shipwright’s Daughter menu. You should too.
Standridge, a Yankee by birth and MLB affiliation, was raised in the Appalachian region of northern New Jersey, the offspring of an Appalachian tail grandfather in Alabama. Growing up foraging and fishing was a natural part of family life, and the tradition of home cooking inspired her early experiences with food. “Flavor profiles, that kind of stuff, they stick with you,” he says. “It can almost be genetic with food and wine.”