Do you Cockatoo?

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Dining in Stonington can be a bit of a crapshot. Yes, there are choices–and some can be quite good–but the key words are can be. Some years yes, other years no.

For a few years now, the Cockatoo has operated as a way funky Portuguese seafood-in-the-rough kinda place on Webb Cove (you order inside Carter’s fish market, then took a seat outside overlooking the cove, and your meal was delivered to you).

Last year, Chef Suzen took over the dining room of the former Goose Cove Lodge, in Sunset. While the food was fabulous, you could wait more than an hour for food, sometimes significantly longer than an hour. It was a nightmare.

My how things have changed.

Just returned from dinner at what’s now called Cockatoo Portuguese Restaurant, and it was excellent. Service was attentive, the pace was leisurely, but not too slow. And the paella! Wow! Not the usual shucked seafood in saffron rice, no our order for two came with a complete lobster in the shell as well as clams, mussels, cod and shrimp, all also in their shells, and served over saffron rice with a Portuguese sauce. More of the sauce as well as a broth and a melted butter were served on the side.

We also had an order of the bacalhau ha Braz, shredded codfish with onions, peppers and crispy potatoes, and that too was flavorful, perfectly cooked and came in a more than ample portion. And the grilled and seasoned Portuguese-style garlic bread was the perfect accompaniment for both.

Now add the dreamy views: undeveloped shoreline and an island-dotted horizon. And our server, who was sweet, attentive and truly cared about our experience.

On the flip side, the original restaurant has been closed due to staffing problems. Seems like Suzen got the message. Backing up for a moment, when we’d called for a reservation, we were told no tables were available until 7:30 p.m., and yet when we arrived, there were only a few other tables occupied. I’m guessing they’re spacing out the reservations in order not to overtax the kitchen. Another good sign. Let’s hope it continues.

Oh, and about the name: yes, there is a cockatu in residence at the restaurant.

In other Stonington news, Lily’s has expanded and added an upstairs deck. Dinner is served only on Friday evenings. Perhaps tomorrow, but then what would we do with tonight’s leftovers, which are more than enough for another meal?