Friday, November 13, 2009

Custy's International, North Stoneington, CT - Another LOBSTER Buffet

Custy's International restaurant has in its logo that it is "The World's Most Famous Buffet". Well, I had not heard of them and I am only a state away- actually by water I am only about forty five minutes away - but as there is no bridge or tunnel, that forty five minutes by highway becomes almost three hours. Anyway. I just learned about Crusty's International. My first thought was that this was an absolute trip to be taken - until I saw the details about Crusty's.

Now I am not saying anything against this restaurant. It looks wonderful and I am sure that the food is as good as the presentation. But this is one of the most expensive buffet restaurants that I have encountered. When I looked first at their website, my attention was caught by the Children's Price list which is prominently displayed. The top price is for children 10 years old to 12 years old and it is $39.99. I looked again, thinking that there obviously is a mistake and this must also be the adult price. Next to the children's prices is a description of pricing - in small text and there in the description is the adult price - $69.99!

For what you are getting this may be a fair price. Primarily what you are getting is what most buffet goers are seeking - ALL THE LOBSTER YOU CAN EAT. At Crusty's International that is exactly what you are going to get and you are going to get boiled live lobsters, baked stuffed lobsters, lobster thermidor, and lobster newburg. This is all served from the "Lobster Pit" and you are going to get all you want and as much as you want.

Lobster, as I have written before, seems to be the Holy Grail of buffet diners. They seek wheere to get all they can eat of this ugly, but succulent creature. I have heard from readers that travel six hundred miles just for cut up lobster in ginger sauce served at a buffet. Here at Crusty's (as at several New Jersey restaurants) you will get all that you desire.

So, we proceed on the understanding that I have not been to Crusty's and I have not heard yet from anyone who has been to Crusty's. I have searched for reviews and did find that two who had dined there felt that the food was excellent and the buffet was more than one could hope for. (Both commented on the expensive price.)

So if you go to Crusty's what will you find? This is a buffet and menu service restaurant. The appearance is that of a typical seafood house on the outside. The hours of the restaurant are a bit unusual - the restaurant is only opened three days per week, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They are also open on Valentine's Day. They are closed all other days and on Christmas eve and Christmas day - weekend or not. The hours change in the summer - so the summer hours are Friday: 5pm - 10pm, Saturday: 3pm - 10pm, and Sunday: 1pm - 7pm. Summer here is from June 29, 2009 - Sept 6, 2009. All other times of the year they are open Friday: 5pm - 9pm, Saturday: 4pm - 9pm, and Sunday: 1pm - 7pm. They will open for private parties, bus tours of 85 to 150 people, or events on any day. There is mention of reservations, so if you are planning on dining at Crusty's call to see if you need to make a reservation in advance.

If you are eating at Crusty's everyone at your table must be eating either the buffet or from the menu - not both. So if you decide that you want the buffet and others in your party want to order from the somewhat less expensive menu, you are out of luck - unless you convince everyone else to buffet it.

When you dine on the buffet there are three specialty sections. There is the Lobster Pit which serves boiled live lobsters, baked stuffed lobsters, lobster thermidor, lobster newburg, lobster bisque, New England Clam Chowder, and a Soup of The Day. There is the Steak Pit where you will get cooked to order New York Sirloin, Marinated Filet Mignon Tips or Boneless Prime Rib. Steaks are served with your choice of peppers, mushrooms, onions, or any combination of those. There is also an elaborate seafood display which includes Colossal Ocean Tiger Cocktail Shrimp, which they claim are a trademark of the restaurant. In this serving area you will also find Giant snow crab legs fom New Foundland, steamed or chilled, baked stuffed shrimp, Cajun shrimp on a skewer, Coconut Shrimp and jumbo Fried Shrimp, Steamers, Shrip Scampi, Baked Stuffed Clams, Baked Southern-style Spare Ribs, Baked Stuffed Mushrooms, Fried Calamari, Custys Sweet Wings, Crispy Chicken Tenders, Fried Chicken ,Chef Specialty Chicken Roll Ups, Fish of the Day - baked or fried, Spaghetti & Meatballs, and Baked Italian Specialties.

There is also a sixty foot serving line that includes salads and appetizers including steamers, sweet corn, boiled potatoes, baked stuffed clams, baked stuffed mushrooms, chicken fingers, fried shrimp, coconut shrimp, cajun shrimp, scallops and bacon, Custy's own sweet wings, Italian-style calamari in a spicy marinara sauce and awesome barbequed ribs.

Entrees include baked chicken, barbequed chicken, baked Italian specialties such as Veal Marsala with freshly sautéed mushrooms, manicotti, meatballs, etc. There are also fresh baked grouper and baked stuffed shrimp with lobster meat stuffing.

Of course, for a buffet of this magnitude there has got to be a dessert bar to compliment it and there seems to be just that. Desserts include New York Style Cheesecake Chocolate Cheesecake Turtle Cheesecake, Tiramisu, fresh baked pies, assorted pastries, fudge and cookies, sugar-free desserts, Creme Brulee, seasonal fresh fruits including strawberries, pineapples, watermelons, honey dews, cantaloups, peaches, plums and more. In another section of the buffet you will find strawberries bananas, pineapples and cherries dipped in milk or white chocolate with or without coconut.

Beverages are included in the buffet price and you can get coffee, tea, soda, juice and milk.

I must say this is A LOT to eat and A LOT to get. There is no doubt that the price is high. It all sounds wonderful. Sadly, though it is within my traveling distance, I cannot fit a meal for two at $140.00 plus tax and gratuity into my budget. I am sure that there are many who can, and if you are seeking lobster - and steak cooked to order - this is the place to go.

Crusty's International is located at 138 Norwich - Westerly Road, North Stonington, CT 06359. The phone number is 860-599-1551. You can email them at They are located six and a half miles past Foxwoods Casino, so after dinner you might want to do a some gambling. There is a website and that is listed on the side of this page.

If you have ever been to Crusty's please leave a comment with this article and let us know how it was!


Eating The Road said...

I've known about this place for some time now and always found it intriguing. Of course I'd love to try it but honestly, $70?!? That's absurd. You could get an excellent lobster and steak diner in any big city for that price. This just makes no sense to me. I'd also want to try all their other offerings but I'd feel cheated it I spent that much and didn't get my fill of the more expensive stuff and I hate doing that and missing some good items.

I did the exact same thing as you when I first looked at their website (with the children's prices), I'm sure this is intentional.

I wonder what clientele they get and whether or not these people are just sitting there all night gorging on lobster. I still don't get it. I would love to go just to see how busy they are and who is eating there. It's a minimum $6000 to have 85 people eat there (if you wanted to have a party). I wonder what there one night operating costs are...I'm sure it's a lot. I'd imagine a good amount of the "other stuff" (breads, salads, etc.) goes to waste.

I think they've got WAY too many stipulations...come on, everyone has to order either off the menu or the buffet, what's that about?!?

I almost don't believe this place exists and it's all just a practical joke to see who'd fall for it :)

I'd love to hear from anyone that has been here.

Eating The Road said...

I found this pretty good write-up on Custy's (is it just me or you you want to call it Crusty's too?):

They also an "early bird special" that is $10 off Friday Until 6 PM, Saturday Until 5 PM and Sunday Until 3 PM.

Robert A said...

It is not unusual for restaurants that serve both menu and buffet that everyone at the table must order the same way - all menu or all buffet. This is to prevent those ordering form the menu to be taking food from the plates of those with the buffet at the table.

Stan said...

The $70. per person charge is not unique these days. The Sunday Brunch buffet at the Garden City Hotel on Long Island is $64 for adults and $32 for children. A family of four spends over $200 with tax and tip! My sister in law worked there years ago, she said that people come and spend the entire five hours, bring reading material, laptops, etc. and eat two to three huge meals to get their money worth. Still it may not be worth it. She also said that some people eat so much they are in agony and need assistance (not kidding). Las Vegas also has some buffets that are in the $60-$80 plus range per diner. That's why people can be seen bringing coolers to these places and sneaking out food. East Buffet (now Best) is also high, but not as high as these. You have to be really hungry.

dave1973 said...

$70 is way too much for me. I see some regular menu restaurants reviewed on my local PBS station reviewing some restaurants that charge without any drinks of around $50-80, with much smaller portions than restaurants with larger portions for $20 or less. On weekends, I can dine with 1 other person at Horseshoe Casino's buffet for $5.00 less than what it costs for 1 person to eat at this buffet. I haven't seen lobster on their buffet (at least not on a Wednesday night).

There might be people who like a lot of lobster (or those who like all you can eat steak from steakhouses or buffets) and more power to them. This is one place I probably won't consider, with the price being as high as it is. I can understand that the restaurant does need a way to recoup their costs. It however would cause some who eat lobster in moderation to avoid this place, if they're looking at price, because some people abuse an all you can eat lobster (or any type of buffet).

Robert A said...

I have written about other all you can eat lobster buffets - similarly serving full lobsters. They were located in New Jersey. They were also expensive - but not as expensive as Custy's. This dinner may well be worth the money - but to the average buffet goer it is way beyond budget especially when dining with someone else. And as I wrote in one of those articles - a friend who is quite well-to-do was going to dine in one of those with a group of other well-to-do couples and they did not go - because it was just not worth spending the money on.

Chris said...

$70.00 is a little pricey!

Lou said...

This is a comment on Stan's comment. (Not trying to start a war, but I just had to comment.)I live on Long Island also. I would never go to a restaurant for this kind of money, way too expensive. As I understand it Long Island, NY is now the highest priced restaurant area in the country, more than NYC. People are nuts to pay these prices. There are dinner "specials" (not buffet) being offered at $25-$30 and lunch "specials" for $15-$20. If one pays these prices they add to the problem. I am upset at paying $15-$20 for dinner that the local diners now charge and visit only a few restaurants in the area that are more reasonably priced. The Garden City Hotel also charges usurious prices for their rooms. East/Best is under $30, less than half and includes the tip.

Stan said...

I agree with Lou. The Garden City Hotel IS too expensive. Maybe East/Best is also. The problem with Best is that with the manadatory gratuity, plus tax, it can get out of hand re: cost. Also, the buffet servers can get very picked over and less than clean with all the patrons picking over them.
Long Island is a big restaurant rip-off, like Lou says. I refuse to spend $40 to take my son to a diner for sandwiches, sodas and dessert (really, add it up!). One consolation is that many restaurants with high prices here have closed or are closing, people are not supporting them and their $25-$30 dinner "specials." Even pizza here is a rip-off. $15+tax for a cheese pie? Fuggetaboutit.

Carmine said...

We're moving to Pennsylvania. Long Island is too expensive. The politicians and the restaurant owners think everyone is rich because of all those who flaunt their fancy cars etc. this is not the place to be if you are middle class. Even the fast food and Dunkin Donuts charge crazy prices, like $2 for a reg. coffee. In Pennsylvania, two can go out for an early dinner in a nice local restaurant for less than $18.

Writer said...

The adult price is now $79.99!