The Best of New Haven 2018 — The Rockies Awards

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The time has once again come, my friends, to hand out the prestigious Rockies Awards, aka the Best (and Worst!) Things in New Haven. Whether it’s the news stories which captivated our collective imagination, or brilliant new restaurants, or something totally made-up because I felt like writing a joke about it, these are the awards for people who don’t understand awards.

Let Us Begin!

The Flat Earth Awards (The Story That Didn’t Happen)

“Winner”: Trinity (Not) Re-Opening

Like the rising of the sun and the first frost of the year, every month, someone would ask me, Local Trinity Expert, “When is Trinity opening again?”

And every month I’d sigh and stare off into the distance, reminiscing about simpler times. A tear forms in my eye duct.

“We may never know.”

Mr. Tear Single Tear

From my understanding, the insurance/landlord situation has been problematic to say the least. But the intent is still to open. I heard rumblings about February. So probably by June 2021.

We miss you, Trinity. Come back. Or else.

The Canada Just Made it Legal Award (Best News)

Violence Drops Again in 2018

Whenever you tell someone you live in New Haven, there are really only three answers people give:

  • “Oh that’s the place with the pizza, right?”
  • “Oh, that’s the place with Yale, right?”
  • “Oh, isn’t that the place people get murdered to death all the time?”

Uh.. No

The year 2011 was a particularly bad year, with 34 homicides and 100 shootings, in which New Haven was listed as the “4th deadliest city in the US” by the FBI, but that perception has hung around for long afterwards.

In 2018, violent crimes continue to drop overall, now at 10 homicides and 50 shootings. 2017 had 7 homicides but 61 shootings.

So you can be like “shut up you stupid jerk” and tell them we have a totally reasonable murder rate for a city of our size and even our non-murder gun violence is dropping so just relax and eat some pizza.

between_hoodie
Check out the new Between Two Rocks Teespring store for all kinds of cool gear.

The Oh Boy, Not This Again Award (News Which Makes New Haven Look Ridiculous)

Winner: Everyone OD’s on K2 On The Green

Just when you were going to brag to all your friends about New Haven doesn’t have “that many” murders, we’re back in the national news when about 114 people “overdosed” on and around New Haven Green.

Conflicting reports led some folks to blame fentanyl, but it turned out the culprit was everyone’s favorite Internet drug, K2. In fact, some folks had such a blast they went ahead and OD’d again. (Love the committment.)

Which mostly just meant passing out. Nobody died. But I guess we can call it an OD.

Overdoses on the Green
Kind of says it all, doesn’t it. Source: New Haven Independent

I love you, New Haven. Just when I think you can’t make us look more ridiculous, you go ahead and fire off a one-day K2 epidemic.

Meanwhile nobody read my tour of the School of Architecture cause they were too busy laughing about K2. You fucked me twice this time!

This seems like a great time to promote a comedy show I’m hosting with my roommate, no?

The Die Hard Award (Finally, I Experienced Something Everyone Raves About)

Winner: The Stack at District

This Christmas, I finally watched Die Hard (yes, I know), and I gotta say, pretty sweet flick. I forgot how many people in the 80’s had machine guns. Ah, a different era.

And now, finally, Bear’s BBQ brings its popular vein-clogging delights to New Haven with a massive new restaurant/bar called The Stack at District (cause of the smokestack, get it?). The new space is absolutely gorgeous and when I was there, packed.

I might even have to give up being a pescatarian for a day to review the place.

Bear's BBQ Food
Scratch that: I am definitely going to do that.

The outdoor seating looks amazing and it looks like it’ll be a great place to hang out in the summer. Remember summer, everyone?

The Who Saw That Coming?! Award (We Hardly Knew Ye and Ye Were Gone Award)

Winners: Vanity, Hop Knot

Co-winners this year, Vanity and Hop Knot failed to make an impact in the New Haven nightlife scene.

Vanity tried taking over the clearly-too-enormous spot featuring previous tenants the Playwright, Wicked Wolf, and Russian Lady, but this time with mirrors and DJ Pauly D. Shockingly, the results were mixed and Vanity shuttered its doors sometime in the fall.

Vanity Bar
Ohhhh I get it.

Meanwhile, Hop Knot attempted to be another beer bar, except this time, with pretzels! They tried some comedy here, I guess, but the place has since been totally closed. (And no it wasn’t my comedy which closed it, thanks for asking.)

They have some locations which work elsewhere, but it might just not be an inspired/interesting enough choice in New Haven.

I look forward to whatever ill-fated ideas take over these Cursed Spots (looking at you, September in Bangkok).

Speaking of.

The Oh God This Food is Great But Is Our Waiter Still Alive Award (Best Food/Worst Service)

Winner: September in Bangkok

Came here with my buddy as a late birthday dinner, and the place was packed, which apparently shocked the owners because they were not staffed for having actual customers that night.

A bunch of places have tried making this location work, but nothing has lasted more than a couple of months. September in Bangkok takes over where Dashi left off, and provides what appears to be a kind of upscale Thai place.

However, the food was pretty awesome. But boy. The service. Brutal. Things were forgotten. We got charged for stuff we didn’t order.

I hope they figure it out cause the food is excellent. The crab rangoon was awesome, I had some crazy seafood dish I can’t remember the name of. Check it out. Just, y’know. Don’t be in a rush.

The Oh That Place Is Turning Into a What Award (Exciting New Development)

Winner: College Street Takes Over Alchemy

Say what you want about College Street Music Hall, but it’s certainly been a boon to the downtown area. Especially nearby restaurants and bars. And parking garages. Boy are these heady days for the parking garages.

College Street Music Hall now takes over the space previously occupied by Alchemy and underage kids everywhere, with a new Ballroom-like concept for smaller acts.

District Ballroom
Digital rendering done by someone’s newphew, probably.
Source: New Haven Independent

Granted, there’s already Cafe Nine and the Space Ballroom and the State House but hey when has New Haven’s appetite for weird indie rock ever faded.

The Wait Where Is This Place Award (Hardest to Find)

Winner: State House

I put on a comedy show here in October and boy was it tricky getting people to figure out where this place is. Tucked away in the rear of a parking lot (obviously a great place to do music), the State House is an absolutely beautiful venue which is nonetheless entirely too big for how good of a comedy show I can put on.

State House
I stole this from their Instagram to promote them, so I guess that makes me chaotic good.

Still, it’s an awesome spot and you should check it out. If you can find it.

The Please Don’t Suck Award (Most Anticipated/Nervous Opening)

Winner: Olmo

Reviews on the bagels are mixed, but I haven’t had them yet, so rather than provide my own opinion, I will swirl around totally unsourced rumors.

Olmo Bagels
Source: @caraevephoto

(Well they certainly look amazing.)

Olmo replaces the beloved Caseus, and those are some pretty huge shoes to fill. One of my all-time favorite New Haven restaurants, Caseus is not being replaced by what I believe is conceptually a sort of … okay, honestly, I don’t get it.

Bagels in the morning, sandwiches in the afternoon, comfortable food in the evening. A bit of everything.

Given every amazing dinner I’ve ever had at Caseus, I’m liable to give them the benefit of the doubt. I hope Olmo does absolutely terrific things.

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Welp, that does it. Thanks, 2018. You were… a year. A weird, weird year.

We look forward to covering all kinds of shit over 2019, with more articles, more podcasts, more stuff like that. Thanks so much for reading and listening. I appreciate you.

-Josh

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for this! Helped confirm/correct several rumors I’ve heard about the status of openings/closings and cursed locations.

    I started to wonder whether Trinity was ever coming back when they failed to do a “world cup village” last year. Seems like that could have been a no-brainer fundraiser for the re-open. But alas, I’ll hold onto whatever wisps of rumors that we can get.

  2. Ditto to the other commenter, thanks for confirming and letting us know what to expect with some phantom places that were once successes and now wastelands.

    Excited to see the former Alchemy be taken over, especially by such a cool venue/extension of College St. Music Hall. Very exciting to see.

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