Dottie’s Diner

Diner | Donuts | Small Town Café
Memorable
One of the best
Save

For decades, Phillips Diner was known for donuts and chicken pies. Back in 2006, it was bought by Dotty Sperry, who for a while called her place Dottie’s Diner @ Phillips as an homage to the old regime.

“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. Old-fashioned 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. The gravy has changed from the old-style white cream to a darker sauce with spicy zest. Accompanying 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.

Phillip’s legendary donuts remain among our favorites. There is nothing outrageous or spectacular about them. In 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.

Chris & Amy Ayers | October 10, 2008

A typical-looking restaurant on the outside, Dottie’s Diner is totally ’50s style inside with checkered floors and bright blue stools and booths. It’s also the home of fresh donuts and old-fashioned chicken pie, both of which were our goals to sample. The donuts are on display in a case by the front door, and after we finished our meal, our wonderful waitress bagged a few to go for us and added it to our bill before paying. The booths were packed with families, retirees, and kids eating donuts, but there were a few stools available at the counter. Note that we also had a lovely waitress whose sassiness earned her an extra large tip! It was all locals, too, as the parking lot was full of Connecticut license plates.

One of Dottie’s signature dishes, the chicken pie (about five inches in diameter, two inches in height) was the Phillips’ all-meat version, though our waitress asked us if we wanted Dottie’s edition with added vegetables. It comes dressed in a robe of light brown gravy, which is draped over a small portion of mashed potatoes. The crust is flaky but not too much so, and of course the chicken chunks are tender and flavorful. This is a pie with crust on all sides, not just on the top as some vendors around New England prefer. The mashed potatoes are exemplary and afford extra gravy for dipping a few chicken pieces when the pie’s own gravy is depleted. Steamed broccoli and cut carrots on the side are also perfect, not overcooked and lifeless like at other restaurants. This pie was our favorite entrée of the day, and we can’t wait to return to order it again.

A chef friend of my father’s once told me that bread pudding always makes hand-over-fist profit, for its humble ingredients can increase its profit exponentially, often by 1,000% or more, and “people order it ‘til it’s gone!” We are definitely among those people, but we’ve never heard of this donut version, which sounds so incredibly decadent. Made with day-old cinnamon donuts (surely the cooks set some aside, because they sell out daily!), this pudding is drizzled with a not-too-sweet crème sauce and sliced strawberries. Our first forkful sent us both into Roadfood oblivion! The moistness of the donuts, mixed with their residual cinnamon-sugar glaze and the sweetness of the crème sauce, puts this bread pudding, quite frankly, in a class all by itself. The ample fruit affords enough for every bite of pudding, as this is a dish that we’ll be talking about for a very long time.

As for the donuts, we sampled two varieties: the standby cinnamon-sugar, and the chocolate-covered old-fashioned. Touted by Michael Stern as possibly the best in the country, we wouldn’t go quite that far with superlatives, but we will state that they are certainly among the best in the state and a very close second to similar pastries at Neil’s in Yalesville. The cinnamon-sugar donut didn’t have the crunch that we’d read about and dreamed of, but the cake texture was absolutely scrumptious, and somehow the cinnamon sugar stayed stuck to the donut, leaving very little for finger-licking afterwards. The chocolate-covered is my favorite of the two, though Amy likes the first one better. This does have a definite crunch, despite most of its surface area being covered by a thick robe of dark cocoa-laden glaze. Our only mistake was that we didn’t take home enough of them.

What to Eat
Dottie’s Diner, Chicken Pie
Chicken Pie
Must-Try
Old-fashioned chicken pie: a hash of chicken meat inside a savory crust.
Dottie’s Diner, Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Pot Pie
Must-Try
Chicken POT pie, with vegetables
Dottie’s Diner, Donut
Donut
Must-Try
Enough icing on this chocolate donut?
Dottie’s Diner, Donut Bread Pudding
Donut Bread Pudding
Must-Try
Dottie's donut bread pudding is veined with sugar and spice.
Dottie’s Diner, Blueberry Pancakes
Blueberry Pancakes
Must-Try
Blueberries abound in this short stack.
Dottie’s Diner, Chocolate Eclair
Chocolate Eclair
Eclair is extra-large
Dottie’s Diner, Chicken Chili
Chicken Chili
Chili is as hearty as stew.
Dottie’s Diner, Macaroni & Cheese
Macaroni & Cheese
Mac & cheese is a great chili companion.
Directions and Hours
open now
Sunday7 am - 3 pm
Monday6 am - 3 pm
Tuesday6 am - 8:30 pm
Wednesday6 am - 8:30 pm
Thursday6 am - 8:30 pm
Friday6 am - 8:30 pm
Saturday6 am - 8:30 pm
Information
Price
$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
No
Website

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Carbone’s

    Hartford, Connecticut

    Carbone’s of Hartford, Connecticut, has been serving white-tablecloth Italian fare since ’38. For a big deal, old-world meal, it reigns supreme.

  • Bufalina

    Guilford, Connecticut

    Vividly flavorful Neapolitan pizzas make Bufalina a best bet along the shoreline in the pizza-rich state of Connecticut.

  • Lorenzo’s

    Newtown, Connecticut

    Locals love off-the-beaten-path Lorenzo’s for meat-and-potatoes meals as well as for Italian fare and a full repertoire of pizza with crisp, thin crust.

  • Merritt Canteen

    Bridgeport, Connecticut

    A beloved Bridgeport dive since 1942, the Merritt Canteen serves a chili dog that will make your lips glow. Breakfast sandwiches are loved by regulars.

  • Westfair Fish & Chips

    Westport, Connecticut

    Westfair Fish & Chips is a kitchen with an order window and a few tables. Fried clams, sole, scallops, shrimp & oysters all are Connecticut bests.

  • Shady Glen

    Manchester, Connecticut

    Shady Glen cheeseburgers are awesome works of art, but don’t ignore the excellent ice cream concoctions from this vintage Connecticut dairy bar.