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Dottie's Diner

787 S. Main St, Woodbury, CT - (203) 263-2516
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/4/2014 1:02:00 PM
We were sad to hear in 2006 that the Phillips family was getting out of the restaurant business. Their little place along Antiques Row in Woodbury had been a destination diner for decades, its donuts and chicken pies without peer. We still miss Bud and his daughters and in-laws and the late Mrs. Phillips and the kibitzing they encouraged around the counter, especially early in the morning.

But for donut lovers and chicken pie lovers and honest-eats lovers in general, the change in ownership has only made things better. Dotty Sperry, who for a while called her place Dottie's Diner @ Phillips as an homage to the old regime, runs a wonderful establishment. "I knew I had to keep the best of the old place," she told us early on, "But I wanted to add my personality, too." The chicken pie is an excellent example. Traditional farm house chicken pie is still available: a small savory crust loaded with nothing but warm, moist chicken meat. Dottie's newer version, which includes gravy, peas and carrots, is an option for $1 more. The gravy has changed from the old-style white cream to a darker sauce with spicy zest. The mashed potatoes are the genuine article; they and cranberry sauce have been supplemented on the plate with a sprig of al dente broccoli and a few thin, buttery slices of cooked squash.

As for the donuts, which we have long maintained are among the nation's best – if not THE best – they are, if possible, better than ever. There is nothing outrageous or spectacular about them. I a world of culinary extremism, those looking for kicks might find them boring. But to us, they are perfect. Classic. The Platonic Ideal of donuts. Cinnamon donuts are creamy inside with a wickedly crunchy exterior; chocolate donuts come loaded with vast amounts of the glossy dark glaze that so perfectly complements the cake within.

Note that in December, 2014, Dottie's moved to new quarters across the street from the old diner.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Donut
Chocolate Eclair
Chicken Pie
Blueberry Pancakes
Dottie's Chicken Pie
Chicken Chili
Donut Bread Pudding
Macaroni & Cheese
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

There is so much chocolate icing that only a wee bit of actual donut is visible, at the right of the photo. If there are donuts in heaven, I hope they're like this one.
"There is so much chocolate icing that only a wee bit of actual donut is visible, at the right of the photo. If there are donuts in heaven, I hope they're like this one."
Michael Stern





Cinnamon and chocolate are a natural flavor duet, but for me, the silky robe of chocolate didn't quite harmonize with the sandy crunch of cinnamon. Nevertheless, several minutes after these arrived at my place, the plate was empty... and I was contemplating an order of donut bread pudding for dessert.
"Cinnamon and chocolate are a natural flavor duet, but for me, the silky robe of chocolate didn't quite harmonize with the sandy crunch of cinnamon. Nevertheless, several minutes after these arrived at my place, the plate was empty... and I was contemplating an order of donut bread pudding for dessert."
Michael Stern


My two favorite kinds of donut at Dottie's: chocolate and cinnamon. There are always hunks of cinnamon donut to sample near the cash register.
"My two favorite kinds of donut at Dottie's: chocolate and cinnamon. There are always hunks of cinnamon donut to sample near the cash register."
Michael Stern


As crisp-crusted as ever, but with even more of the superb chocolate glaze surrounding its tawny skin, this chocolate donut is pure Yankee ... and pure pleasure, too.
"As crisp-crusted as ever, but with even more of the superb chocolate glaze surrounding its tawny skin, this chocolate donut is pure Yankee ... and pure pleasure, too."
Michael Stern


I wanted to arrive at Blackie's with plenty of appetite for a multi-hot dog lunch, so I simply took a photo of Dottie's extra-large eclair, and will eat one next time, for sure.
"I wanted to arrive at Blackie's with plenty of appetite for a multi-hot dog lunch, so I simply took a photo of Dottie's extra-large eclair, and will eat one next time, for sure."
Michael Stern


Made from yesterday's cinnamon donuts, Dottie's donut bread pudding is heavily veined with sugar and spice. It is served warm in creme Anglaise with blueberries and strawberries. The price is $3.50, although a swanky Connecticut inn has taken the same idea, using Dottie's donuts, and charges three times that price.
"Made from yesterday's cinnamon donuts, Dottie's donut bread pudding is heavily veined with sugar and spice. It is served warm in creme Anglaise with blueberries and strawberries. The price is $3.50, although a swanky Connecticut inn has taken the same idea, using Dottie's donuts, and charges three times that price."
Michael Stern


Eggs Benedict is the real deal with fresh, lemony hollandaise sauce.
"Eggs Benedict is the real deal with fresh, lemony hollandaise sauce."
Mark Kaupe


Old-fashioned chicken pie: a hash of chicken meat, large and small, dark and light, inside a fragile, savory crust. The gravy adds a sharp punch to the gentle flavors it blankets.
"Old-fashioned chicken pie: a hash of chicken meat, large and small, dark and light, inside a fragile, savory crust. The gravy adds a sharp punch to the gentle flavors it blankets."
Michael Stern


Dottie explained that she knew she could not abandon the tradition of chicken-only pies, but having grown up on the more commonly-known variant, which includes gravy and vegetables with the meat, she added it to the diner menu.
"Dottie explained that she knew she could not abandon the tradition of chicken-only pies, but having grown up on the more commonly-known variant, which includes gravy and vegetables with the meat, she added it to the diner menu."
Michael Stern


It is hard to say whether this chili is more stew or a soup. It is served with a gigantic soup spoon, but is as hearty as any stew. On the side came a square of hot-from-the-oven cornbread.
"It is hard to say whether this chili is more stew or a soup. It is served with a gigantic soup spoon, but is as hearty as any stew. On the side came a square of hot-from-the-oven cornbread."
Michael Stern


A cinnamon donut, ready to be eaten. Now you see it...
"A cinnamon donut, ready to be eaten. Now you see it..."
Michael Stern


... and now you don't. Here are the few crumbs that remain after I devoured a cinnamon donut in record time.
"... and now you don't. Here are the few crumbs that remain after I devoured a cinnamon donut in record time."
Michael Stern


Just the basics, but very good and leaves room for DONUTS!
"Just the basics, but very good and leaves room for DONUTS!"
Robin Olson


All by itself, this macaroni and cheese might have been too monotone. But as a complement for the day's special of chicken chili, it was ideal.
"All by itself, this macaroni and cheese might have been too monotone. But as a complement for the day's special of chicken chili, it was ideal."
Michael Stern


Cooked just right!
"Cooked just right!"
Robin Olson


Here's Dottie, holding one of her chocolate cream pies.
"Here's Dottie, holding one of her chocolate cream pies."
Michael Stern


A cross section of Dottie's excellent eclair shows the nice balance of ingredients. The crust is fragile enough that eating it by hand risks oozing cream.
"A cross section of Dottie's excellent eclair shows the nice balance of ingredients. The crust is fragile enough that eating it by hand risks oozing cream."
Michael Stern


Blueberries abound in this short stack, but what makes the pancakes especially good is the batter: buttery-rich and thick but not the least bit heavy.
"Blueberries abound in this short stack, but what makes the pancakes especially good is the batter: buttery-rich and thick but not the least bit heavy."
Michael Stern



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