In a place like downtown New Haven, if you set out for a night of dinner, drinks and live music, it's not a big deal if you end up having to visit three places to reach this goal. Many places have all three, but even if you choose a place that doesn't, there are plenty of places within walking distance to fill in the gap.
But in Hamden, you'd most likely have to drive from dinner to drinks to live music, unless you hit up the Outer Space, one of Steve Rodgers' family of music venues in an industrial complex on Treadwell Street.
The Outer Space, which has offered an excellent craft-beer selection and live music during the couple years it has been open, has recently started offering a full dinner menu.
A friend and I, who are no strangers to The Outer Space and the Space complex in general, decided to give the food a try. We'd had hopes of sitting outside on The Outer Space's enclosed patio, but Mother Nature had other ideas. Nevertheless, we settled into a table in the corner to look over the menu as the weekly open mic was due to start.
We decided to start off with a little decadence, and ordered the Maryland crab cakes ($7.50 for two), stuffed clams ($6 for three), and a framboise lambic off the beer list to share ($8). The crab cakes and stuffed clams were certainly not skimpy, with the stuffed clams actually being some of the largest I've ever ordered. They're listed on the menu as "overstuffed," which is not a lie. Both dishes came with a side of chipotle aioli, which was delicious, both spicy and creamy, and went well with either breading and seafood combination.
My friend ordered the classic 1/2 pound cheeseburger ($10), and I got the beef burrito ($9.50) and a side salad ($1.50) for our main course. The cheeseburger comes with lettuce, tomato, raw onion, a choice of American, Swiss, cheddar or pepper jack cheese and fries on the side. You can add sauteed onions, bacon or mushrooms for $1 each.
The burger, served on a high-quality bun with American cheese, was juicy and flavorful. The patty appeared handmade. Her comment: "This burger rules," which I seconded.
My burrito came with rice, black beans, cheddar jack cheese, tomato, salsa and sour cream. It was wrapped tightly and grilled leading to little to no spillage. It wasn't drippy or messy, the fillings were evenly distributed, and it was definitely something I'd order again.
I'm looking forward to the next time I visit The Outer Space for dinner, as there are other items on the menu I want to try: the black and blue burger, with blue cajun cheese and bacon ($12), the BLT ($6.50) and three-cheese grilled cheese ($3.50). This menu is still relatively new, and we were surprised by how excellent our meal was.
I'm not insinuating that I didn't expect good food, but these dishes could have been just simply OK and we still would have been thrilled. But instead, we were totally wowed. If you're planning on seeing an upcoming show at any of the Space venues, stop by The Outer Space first for dinner. You'll be left full and happy.
The Outer Space, 295 Treadwell St., Hamden, is open Monday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.; and Sunday, 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Kitchen hours are Sunday to Wednesday, 5 to 9 p.m.; and Thursday to Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m. Information: 203-288-6400 and www.theouterspace.net.