I was recently on a jaunt (a not so good reason which turned out not for the worst) to New Hampshire which I never really thought of as a real foodie place. In any case, after several nights of consuming the cheese and etcetera we brought along to one of the worst hotels ever (a Comfort Inn near Merrimack; avoid it; stay in the nearby Residence Inn which is great or . .. ) Anyway, we ate loads of places so here are a few comments:
1. The Cafeteria (it has a name, but who can remember something life that?) in the Catholic Medical Center in Manchester is actually good. The omelets are made as you watch, and I can vouch for the way comfort food kind of works in the place. They also make a pretty good breakfast sandwich (I love an english muffin in every conceivable form) and have a good salad bar. I do not recommend traveling to NH just to go there, but hey, things could be worse.
2. In Manchester, I can actually truly recommend one place:Chez Vachon on Kelly Street. First, I have to say, that driving here was kind of fun, because there is a kind of gate to the neighborhood (wrought iron maybe) which really defines this francophone neighbourhood in Manchester. And second, the place has good food and people are actually kind. We were early the first time we went there, and they did not push us despite the fact the place was utterly and completely packed. The coffee is pretty good. And, the greek omelet was swell. They forgot my bacon, but I survived. Others at the table got a) home fries with a poached egg on top; b) some kind of crepe. The locals seem to love the crepes. We went back. Definitely a good place. Here's urban spoon on this neighborhood kind of wonder.
3. What about further south? Nashua, NH? I was not responsible for finding any of these places, but was glad to be taken off to them to try to cope. Each was pretty darn good. And, we discovered that Nashua is kind of a nice place, with a kind of foodie culture.
First: Coffee. The first coffee place we found was called River Walk Coffee.This place entices us via the web, in our desperate search for coffee other than that in the (at the time) awful hotel we were in. We drove south and discovered it. And, it had a nice ambience, good raspberry/chocolate scones, a good dark roast and . . . The biggest challenge was figuring out how to work the parking meters outside -- can you tell we were a little fried? Anyway, they also served breakfastsandwiches, which I did not try, even though I was tempted since one had feta (and I will eat anything with feta in it). I had my usual caramel latte (which had a name there which escapes me). They roast their own coffee, which is great, though it can make he place a tad wam sometimes, especially as it is not a huge place and the roaster is right out there with those of us hanging out. Nice objects to buy too, like french press coffee makers. Nice ones.
On our last day, we tried another coffee place, recommended to us. It was called Dietrich Bonhoeffer Coffee and yes, they mean that Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Here's an interesting piece about them.They are in a pretty big location, with a huge fireplace in the middle, and serve less wonderful coffee than River Walk (in my estimation) but also give a proportion of their money to good stuff and are a not for profit. Not a surprise given their name. (If you do not know who the guy is, click here for the official site, here for wikipedia, or here for what the US Holocaust Museum has to say.)
We just picked up coffee and ran, unlike when we went to River Walk, but that was just a matter of timing. It too seemed like a good place to hang out.
We ate in Nashua too, for two dinners. Here's what we found, well, ok, I did not finding, I just ended up at these places because my partner was kind.
The first place was called Stella Blu and it is kind of a tapas place. One thing to say for this (and for Nashua more generally) is they have a clue about a gluten free diet, and do not make a big deal of it. What was really exciting for my gluten free partner was that they had gluten free pizza! Not the best thing I ever ate -- but it really brought a smile across the table. I had some pulled pork bits served on corn bread (also gluten free) which were dandy. And, we ordered specially some gluten free carbonars which turned out to be truly swell. All in all, I ordered too much, and liked what I had, including a very nice drink. We sat at the bar, and though I cannot quite remember what it looked like, I can say the people were swell. Here's urbanspoon on Stella Blu:
The second place was called MTS Local. We had been circling for a while Why? we knew we had seen a Kohls and a Macy's somewhere in our transits from here to there, and we had our iphones (yep. Siri) trying to tell us how to get there, but a) it did not work and b) we were incredibly tired. So: we saw this great sign in a nice looking area and driver said to passenger -- enough. We are eating. And we did. Turned out ot be the best place we went. No, of course, the trip was not principally about food. But food is always important.
I had crab cakes, which were actually swell. More crab than cake, if you know what I mean. And delicious. And then I ordered fried mac and cheee. Ordinarily I love mac and cheese, thinking of it as one of the major food groups. In fact, I usually love every version. I was, though, a tad off my food -- tired, stressed, sad, and so I did not finish these, tossed them the next day in the trash, and would not reorder. The place though? I would definitely go back. Partly I would do so because I did not have the salted caramel ice cream (yep watched the spectacle of it being consumed next to me) and want to have it; partly becaue I actually liked the toasted angel food cake bruschetta I had. Mmmm. Plus it felt virtuous.
Urbanspoon's views? Can't find it on google. Does that strike you as odd? Me too.
So, new places in NH. For prior reviews of NH places right here on Cooking with Ideas, click here or here. Live free or die. That's what it says on their license plates. I say, eat well or. . . well, you fill in the blank.