Tucked away on Elm Street in New Haven is a tiny unassuming “friendly neighborhood gastropub” called Three Sheets.
It has gone through many changes over the years, under different names and different locations, but today it is a cozy, welcoming dive bar with a creative atmosphere. I had happened upon it during a ‘brunch and board games’ meeting. Always a fan of good food and new friends, I welcomed the opportunity to try some local flavor.
Open Monday to Thursday, 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
With typical dive-bar murkiness, this place was at once sketchy and friendly. Tattooed and pierced bartenders and servers abounded, and there were handfuls of clear regulars grouped around the bar and at tables, despite it being 1pm on a Saturday.
The menu behind the bar immediately intrigued me. With plenty of good old bar-eat standbys like burgers and wings, they also have a ton of creative and unique choices, such as “Stuffies”, fried pickles, “Koolickles”, and a Banh Mi. They also offer oodles of tasty sounding sauces and toppings for anything your heart desires, like smoked catsup, remoulade, yellow BBQ, or kimchi. Plus rotating chef’s and drinks specials.
This is my kind of place.
Their Facebook page has periodic updates about what bands are playing (always NO cover and 21+) and what the daily house specials are. They say: “the following items which are all made IN HOUSE. Smoked clams, chicken pastrami, ham, bacon and pulled pork. Our jalapeno poppers are slow roasted and hand stuffed. We pickle our own vegetables and eggs. Our beef, breads, and clams are locally sourced… Oh, did I mention hand rolled sushi?”
I had to start the night (afternoon?) with a local craft beer. The bartender suggested Two Roads Hefeweizen, made right here in Stratford CT.
The No Limits Hefeweizen was a nice, fruity wheat beer, perfectly refreshing for a hot summer day. I enjoyed the can, and the fact that they gave me a chilled glass to go along with it. I had tasted the Two Roads “Road Jam” previously as well, and it is even more powerfully berry flavored.
However, the “Lil Heaven IPA” is the opposite of my taste preferences, and I ended up tossing out half a six-pack because I just couldn’t drink it. Those who like extremely bitter beers would totally love this type. All the same, this brand is a great New England brewery, and I will keep trying their beers as long as I’m here.
The front area is the bar, right next to a cozy room containing several tables & chairs, and a tiny elevated stage area. I have not attended any free concerts here yet, but it is now on my New Haven to-do list. We played several games with a group of about 20, with multiple games on-going simultaneously.
Through the hallway, you are led to a back room with more seating, a food-order area leading to the kitchen, pool tables, and a large chalkboard wall. There is plenty of chalk provided to indulge your creative side. I believe there is a back door, but we did not investigate if there was a porch area or not.
It has that ‘dirty’ in a ‘gritty dive-bar’ way, but was well-kept. From what I could see through the kitchen window, everything was in fact being freshly prepared in house. Speaking of food…
While there were many tempting items on the menu, the Beet Reuben in particular called to me. Roasted beet slices on whole grain rye bread (which I believe is from another CT local, the tasty bread experts WholeG Bakery), with kimchi, thousand island dressing & Swiss cheese. I’m not a huge fan of swiss or 1000 island, but they are requisite for a proper reuben. And I adore kimchi.
BEET REUBEN $10
roasted beets sliced and served on whole g rye bread with kimchi, thousand island, and swiss.
The bartender took my order and told me ‘ok it will be out in a few minutes’. I don’t know if they are all just that good, or I got lucky & it was a slow day. But I sat down, played some games, and as I was halfway through enjoying my hefeweizen another waitress magically appeared and handed me a steaming plate.
The bread was perfectly crispy, everything was exactly the right temperature. The spicy kimchi mixed with the creamy tang of the thousand island, the sliced beets were soft and sweet like candy, and the whole thing made me look at Ruebens in a whole new light. I don’t think the usual roast beef & coleslaw combo will have quite the same magic anymore.
The fries were also the right amount of salty, and were so good that even though my fiance hadn’t wanted to order any food, after he tried one, he ended up eating almost the whole order! If I’d been more hungry, or not completely enthralled with my sandwich, I would have gotten a second order. As it was, this sandwich was more than enough to satisfy, and I had to stuff down the last bite. It was totally worth it.
All in all, this is a cute little gem that during the day is tame enough to bring the kids, but has it’s rough side too. The food prices vary in affordability, but are reasonable given the taste standard and the portion sizes. With entertainment, public events all the time, great drink specials and killer food, this is a gastropub I’d be happy to re-visit again and again.
- Taste: 8.5
- Atmosphere: 7
- Value: 7
Resources & Further Reading:
New Haven Register Review
Three Sheets Website
Their Facebook Page