On October 28, Spoon visited Ordinary, New Haven’s oldest tavern. The bar was founded in 1659 by John Harriman, and was named “Ordinary” after the popular 17th century term for tavern.

Our trip to Ordinary was permeated with historical undertones — due to the pandemic, we entered the bar through the Taft apartments, a tribute to the original entrance of the tavern, which once served as the bar for Hotel Taft.

Once a hub frequented by merchants, sailors, and shipbuilders traveling through the area, Ordinary has retained its sense of deep history with its dark and comfortable ambiance and a cozy, classy environment illuminated by digital fireplaces and dim lanterns. The bar seemed to contain a sense of mystique and intrigue — being surrounded by the antique wood paneling and the aura of the underground, we felt as though we were patrons congregating at the local tavern in the 1700s, sharing well-crafted drinks, warm food, and hearty laughs after a long day of work.

Everyone we interacted with was incredibly friendly, helpful, and excited to get to know us. Through our conversations with the owners and waiters, we learned fascinating things about Ordinary’s history, its philosophy, and its creative approach to food and drink.


Mothra VS —

Janie Wu

Like many of the carefully crafted cocktails at Ordinary, the Mothra VS comes with a compelling backstory — This strong, strawberry cocktail isotope is based off of the infamous showdown Mothra vs. Godzilla, where Mothra, a fictional giant silk larva monster, faces off with Godzilla in an attack on Japan. The drink is crafted as a tribute to this tale and truly brings it to life using sake, a traditional Japanese liquor, luxardo bianco bitter and liberation mandarin bitters to add a kick reminiscent of the legendary battle, and strawberry boba as a representation of the eggs from which larvae later emerged to engulf Godzilla in a cocoon. The cocktail featured an incredible blend of flavors, from the strength of the sake and gin to the refreshing end note of sweet boba.

Godzilla VS —

Janie Wu

The Godzilla VS served as a perfect counterpart to the Mothra VS, with the strong smoky taste of Toki whiskey and cardamaro amaro rivaling the fruitiness of Mothra’s strawberry boba. The drink was presented and served in a smoking lantern, creating a sense of mystery and intrigue around the experience. The Godzilla’s immediate smokiness, derived from palo santo wood, was accentuated by hints of rose and honey lapsing tea syrup and complemented by the powerful taste of liberation angelic bitters.


The Vapors —

Janie Wu

This aromatic cocktail embodied the experiential philosophy of Ordinary’s drinks — Topped off with a chai tea vapor bubble, the drink intends to engage both your sense of smell and your sense of taste. Patrons are encouraged to pop the bubble with their nose, inhaling the scent of chai while taking their first sip of the cocktail composed of rayu mezcal, nonino amaro, tempus fugit noyaux, sword into plowshare honey, lime, and liberation ginger clove bitters. The smoky, perfumed flavor of chai lingers and accents the strong liquors and sweetness of the cocktail, bringing out a delicate and distinctive fruitiness.

Small Plates

Janie Wu

Cheese & Meat —

The Cheese & Meat plate was served with toasted bread, and Melinda Mae and Finback cheese from Mystic Cheese Co. The sharp, creamy cheeses, featuring notes of brown butter and savory stock and cremini cream, paired perfectly with the crunchiness of the bread and the powerful savory flavor of the salami. Ordinary’s house jam was exquisitely made and unlike anything we’d tasted before — its fruity flavor complemented the plate’s savory palate and added a delicious note of sweetness. The plate was topped off with Marcona almonds, which grounded the rest of the plate with its subtle flavor and satisfying crunch.

Pickled Plate —

We also sampled the pickled plate, which featured a variety of pickled items sourced from local farms and pickled in-house. During our visit, we tasted Ordinary’s pickles, as well as pickled carrots, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and acorn squash, coupled with whipped butter and a sliced toasted baguette. The acidity and texture of the vegetables paired extremely well with the crunch of the toasted baguette and the creaminess of the whipped butter, creating a flavorful bite that prepared our palates for the entrees to come.


Doodle Burger Revisited —

Janie Wu

During our visit, we learned about the history of the Doodle burger, which originated at New Haven’s historic Yankee Doodle Coffee Shop, a now-shuttered New Haven landmark famous for its hamburgers and other comfort foods. The “Doodle,” as it was affectionately known, operated in New Haven for 57 years and drew frequent patrons from Yale as well as visitors from across Connecticut. Prior to closing its doors, the Doodle gave its iconic recipe to Ordinary, and the Doodle Burger, a concept revisited by the extraordinary chefs at Ordinary, began its tenure in a new home.

The Doodle Burger was composed of two smashed beef patties, American cheese, house pickles, and Doodle sauce sandwiched between a buttered potato roll. The patties were grilled to perfection and the burger was unbelievably juicy. The cheese and Doodle sauce added moisture to the burger and everything was perfectly enveloped by the lightly toasted roll — one of the best gourmet burgers (and any burger, at that!) we’ve ever had.

Grilled Cheese —

Janie Wu

Ordinary’s grilled cheese was a menu item that immediately caught our eye, immediately delighted our tastebuds, and immediately warmed our stomachs. Ordinary’s take on the classic comfort food featured sourdough bread toasted to perfection — with a satisfying crunch on the edges and a softer texture in the center — and a mix of cheeses, served with a dipping sauce that highlighted the flavors in the sandwich and put a creative, almost barbecue-like spin on the traditional tomato soup - grilled cheese pairing.

Savory Pies

Veggie Pie —

Janie Wu

The Veggie pie was one of the highlights of our visit. In one forkful, we tasted the flaky, buttery pie crust and the warm acidity of balsamic mushrooms, root vegetables, and goat cheese tied together by Ordinary’s signature veggie gravy. The pie reminded us of cozy weekend afternoons sitting by the fire, eaten while curled up in a warm blanket and over a laugh with friends and family — a toasty comfort food to be enjoyed and shared on a cold or rainy day.


Janie Wu

Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookie —

To wrap up our trip, we sampled the brown butter chocolate chunk cookie, a delectable dessert featuring strong hints of vanilla and a warm, buttery density which crumbled in our mouths. Every bite featured the richness of chocolate chips, tangible undertones of brown sugar, and a slight touch of salt which elevated the sweetness and vanilla in the pastry.

Apple Blondie —

Ordinary’s apple blondie was the perfect way to wrap up our trip. Served warm and with a dollop of cool whipped cream, the dessert encompassed the freshness of local apples and the unique sweetness of brown sugar and vanilla in an autumnal pastry.