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Need East Bay Izakaya recommendation?

+1 for Kiraku. Excellent izakaya. Haven't been to Ippuku, but hear it's very good, especially if you like yakitori. But I liked that Kiraku had raw items as well as grilled. We haven't tried everything on the diverse menu, but everything we ordered was outstanding.

And reservations for two were pretty easy to get, though they require a minimum of $30 per person. (There was no such restriction mentioned for larger parties.) Still, that was no problem at all — there were so many things to try on the menu.

Tip: Don't skip the grilled squid. Weeks later, this dish still haunts my dreams.

Apr 13, 2013
zaetah in San Francisco Bay Area

The Hounds of Dover, NH

If this thread is still alive, please report back on what you think! It seems minibrings and I are both fans, and bewley — well not so much.

Sep 11, 2009
zaetah in Northern New England

The Hounds of Dover, NH

I haven't tried Zampa. What kind of food do they serve there?

There are quite a few spots I've been meaning to try out in other towns. The Crystal Quail in Barnstead, The Black Bean Cafe in Rollinsford and several Portsmouth places (like Four, Black Trumpet, etc...), among others.

Fiddlehead Farms is great. The hubby and I have made friends with the cheesemongers there. A great couple of girls, and actually rather urbane and savvy. I prefer getting fish & veggies when we go to FF, as opposed to the grocery items there (which I think is a bit overpriced for some of the standard stuff). But overall, really love the place. It's nice having an alternative to the big supermarkets. I tried the Dover farmer's market, but there aren't nearly enough vendors, IMO. I hope it gets bigger over time.

Speaking of Dover, I've been to The Chop Shop, Kelley's Row and even The Brick House over these past few weeks. I'll try to find some time soon to write those up. One was a really nice surprise, one was kind of mediocre and one was half awesome, half baffling.

Sep 11, 2009
zaetah in Northern New England

The Hounds of Dover, NH

heh heh, that IS pretty funny.

Sep 10, 2009
zaetah in Northern New England

The Hounds of Dover, NH

Well, I certainly can't argue with your experience! Wow, that must be fascinating. (I'm almost afraid to ask you more about your time there, for fear of the Chowhound admins coming down on me for not sticking to a food topic ;-) But hey — maybe you can tell me about it over a beer someday.

All I can claim is a short visit to Egypt and Turkey, so I'll have to concede that I'm not an authority on the matter. (Hmmm. I wonder if it's like the difference between authentic Chinese food and General Tso's chicken? While delicious enough for most people, it's not exactly the real stuff.)

As for the gas station, I still genuinely liked what I had there, as well as the sweet-natured attitude of the people who run the place. I'm going to relent on the authenticity argument, but as for unprocessed, good-tasting food, I'm sticking to my guns on that one!

Dave's Spicy House: Well, I only went there once. Got to say that I wasn't super keen on the one chicken dish I had there. Don't get me wrong. It was good, but it didn't bowl me over. Still, it was just tasty enough that I want to give it another shot before writing that one up.

bewley wrote:
"You know, after you've been in Dover for a while you will start to grab at anything that has a personality or a spark of life. You may soon realize that you are beginning to settle for second rate. You will find that when you finally return to Brooklyn or NYC for a visit that you have been living in a culinary and cultural wasteland."

I have to admit I felt the same way at first. Admittedly, it hasn't been long that I've lived here in the NH seacoast — just a few months, really — but I'm starting to look at things in a different way. In NY, we didn't have lobster pounds — only $30 lobster tails that were shipped in from somewhere else. Real farm-to-table is also hard to come by in that city, though a few places are trying. So overall, I feel it's an okay trade. In exchange for swank restos and hip new chefs' concoctions, I'm getting fresh air, (some) food with heart and a mellower environment that's not so focused on turning tables. I won't pretend the food's just as good or exciting, but in a few cases, the dining experience has actually been better.

Cultural wasteland? Maybe. But when I have a jones for museums, ballets or other culture fixes, I can always hit Boston or Portland. In the mean time, I'm enjoying the water, open air and farmlands. It's beautiful country out here.

Sep 10, 2009
zaetah in Northern New England

The Hounds of Dover, NH

I have to respectfully disagree. As minibrings pointed out, Michelle was a bona fide chef with her own restaurant in Beirut. And I think her pedigree is evident. The ingredients are wholesome and good, taste fresh, and most of it (maybe even everything) is handmade. Michelle was generous enough to show me how to make her creamy garlic condiment, which she chops and whips completely by hand. Her gyros and other sandwiches are nothing short of excellent, and the meat pies as well as spinach pies are delicious.

Even if Michelle wasn't a chef, but just a darn good cook with homespun recipes, I would certainly count that as authentic. Actually, I'm not sure it gets more authentic than that. And while she does have family recipes, she also had some culinary training, which I think is what separates hers from other crappy gyro places I've tried in the past. In NY, I've frequently had overspiced, overcooked, dried-out, multiply microwaved shawarmas and gyros with old, wilted vegetables and jarred sauces. Michelle's food is in a whole other class. I find it a real treat when herbs and spices aren't ridiculously overdone to disguise bad quality ingredients. This is street food done right.

As for her work on Fridays, she mentioned that she does it out in front, so anyone who's interested can watch her in action. Other days, she'll just do it in the back. That might be why some people think she only cooks on Fridays. (I do think that's false. In fact, my husband and I went in on a Thursday, and she pulled some spinach pies fresh out of the oven for us.)

As you can tell, I'm pretty enthusiastic about this place. When I eat a $7 shawarma that beats the pants off a $29 entree at Blue Latitudes, I want to give props where it is due. Apparently, I'm not the only one who's impressed. A professor from UNH asked Michelle to get involved with a class or seminar on the geography of food. Again, I think that speaks to the authenticity of her cuisine.

I really do hope you give it another chance, bewley. I think the owners deserve it. They are the nicest people who genuinely care about the food they serve, and get excited when people take an interest in it. My husband and I have popped in, and wound up spending an hour with them, learning about their food and their backgrounds.

So although it's not technically in Dover, it's close enough that I lump it among my favorites in the area. Go figure — an awesome food experience in a gas station, of all places. I'm tempted to call in Guy Fieri, and have him do a spot for Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

Sep 08, 2009
zaetah in Northern New England

The Hounds of Dover, NH

Hi, aadesmd. I can see your point and, after living here for a little bit, I have to agree that this is probably true for any Dover resto looking to give most residents what they want. There will probably never be a shortage of those types of places here.

But I don't know if that dooms the food scene here. Like I said, city planners and other groups are trying to turn the town into a real destination, so there might be other eateries in the future that will try to extend their reach beyond local tastes, to tourists, visitors and etc. I realize decent restos have come and gone here before, but in those cases, the timing may not have been right. I hear that there's a 4-color brochure on Dover in the works now, and they're planning on putting it in travel centers, airports, etc to promote tourism here. That's pretty ambitious. I'm praying there will be some visionary out there who will defy the pull of mediocrity and recognize the opportunity to draw in visitors with diverse palates.

So there's hope for the Dover restaurant scene, however slim it may be. (It's the only thing I have to hold on to!) :-)

bewley: Thanks for another great tip. Will definitely get to know the Crepes people. And Black Pepper linguine — yum.

Finally tried Kelley's Row. I'll write up that review as soon as I get a chance. But for now, I'll say this: While definitely not a place to satisfy a foodie craving, it wasn't the unmitigated disaster I thought it would be. I could eat there without fear of food poisoning, which already makes it better than some of the other places I've tried here so far.

Aug 09, 2009
zaetah in Northern New England

The Hounds of Dover, NH

Wow, so people go out "to be seen." Interesting. I hear that phrase bandied about in Los Angeles, Manhattan, London, etc..., usually in regards to extremely hot, trendy lounges or hip restaurants. Seeing it applied here is, well, kind of interesting.

bewley, you have an amazing knowledge of the local area. You’re background info is extensive, and quite impressive. Did you grow up around here? (And where does your palate come from? I'm guessing not locally.)

I get seriously bummed to think that the Jumpin' Jay's restaurateur failed in this town. But even so, I still have hope for Dover’s culinary landscape, long-term at least. The Dover Dines event was an ambitious effort. I also see how the Dover Chamber of Commerce and Main Street organization are trying to further the revitalization of the area and turn this into a destination for tourists, and the local Seacoast Growers Association is trying to promote fresh, local fare.

I'm hoping all these efforts will ultimately result in better cuisine and dining options.

By the way, the hubbo and I took a stroll through One Washington and wound up buying some Terra Cotta Pasta ravioli to make at home. (Nothing like going to the source!) It was wild mushroom with roasted shallots. Though the texture of the pasta dough was a bit thick for my taste, I still really enjoyed it! The filling was delicious, and it was so easy to prepare. And the 12-yr-old aged balsamic was a real treat. Thanks for the suggestion.

I haven't brought myself to try any other restaurants in Dover this week. I'm still trying to get over the Barn Tavern fiasco. But I'm sure we'll venture out again soon. This weekend, though, we'll try a few places in Portsmouth, when we go see the Tall Ships.

Aug 07, 2009
zaetah in Northern New England

The Hounds of Dover, NH

Thanks for the restaurant and arts info! It’s always good to know the history behind the scenes. And I‘m looking forward to trying Pepperland. It’s not in Dover, but we have a car and will travel, if need be. (By the way, you mentioned Jumpin’ Jays — So far, it’s my favorite fish place in the area. If I lived closer, I’m sure I’d be there a few times a week!)

One Washington? I’ll definitely have to check that out, particularly the pasta company. Now that sounds really intriguing. And I can’t wait to see what the new charcuterie place will be like. (I’m a sucker for good charcuterie.)

As for reviews, well I just got back from The Barn Tavern tonight, and I’ve got a lot to say:

BARN TAVERN: In a word, upsetting. When a menu and website for a restaurant uses words like "gourmet" and "international specialties and New England favorites with a twist," certain expectations are made. None of those expectations were met, sadly. When a side dish of Mac and Cheese is better than the main fish entree, there's something wrong. My stuffed haddock was dry, overcooked and overspiced. There was pepper butter (for the bread), and pepper on the fish itself and then a heaping load of pepper in the stuffing underneath the fish. I love pepper, but seriously? This was a bit much. As I said, the Mac and Cheese was good, if slightly runny. My husband's dinner was a bit better. He ordered Dover's #1 favorite food — the steak tips — which were only slightly overcooked. They were a little tough and sitting in a small pool of thin liquid that was supposed to be mushroom sauce. Even so, the flavor wasn't terrible. His garlic mashed potatoes at least were very good. The mushroom risotto side dish, however, was more like cooked rice with some mushroom in it. Not bad flavor, but it certainly wasn't risotto.

I would've laughed it off if this was a $25 dinner at Chillis. But no — We paid $93 for apps, drinks, meal and tip, so we expected more. Way more.

As we got ready to leave, we were gobsmacked by what our server had in his hand when he dropped off our change: He had a couple of wedges of iceberg lettuce on a plate, drizzled with a little dressing, for another table. My husband and I looked at each other, puzzled. Iceberg has virtually no nutritional value; it's like the Joey Fatone of green, leafy vegetables. At best, it’s used as the casing for certain types of SE Asian fresh rolls. At worst, it’s the garnish at low-end sandwich shops. But Barn Tavern was selling it as an Iceberg Salad. Maybe I’m being too harsh about this, but I can’t help feeling like no self-respecting chef at a “gourmet” restaurant would ever make a dish out of that. It just screamed, “Amateur.” Suddenly, in that moment, our dinners made sense.

So the meal was not good. On the up side, the white sangria my husband ordered was delicious, and the river view was nice. I also hear that they have jazz combos sometimes for a pretty laidback clientele. So if I want to hear a trio while enjoying some Mac and Cheese, garlic mashed potatoes or a sangria, then I know where to go. But if I’m actually hungry, I’ll probably go elsewhere.

(By the way, is it me or does it seem that prices at several Dover restaurants are way too high for what ends up on the plate? In some cases, we are seeing Manhattan or San Francisco prices for food that’s… well, no where near the same league. That's just crazy.)

Aug 04, 2009
zaetah in Northern New England

The Hounds of Dover, NH

Hi, bewley. Thanks for the great recommendations. The hubby and I will be sure to check out these suggestions.

Wow, your response gave me a lot of food for thought.

As far as Dover being a drinking town, well you really hit the nail on the head. But you know, I've also spoken to lots of people who hate the loud drunken hoards. So maybe there's another set of residents who don't patronize the area because — well, there's not much for them here. As for outsiders and tourists, the rednecks and binge drinkers certainly succeed in putting them off, and that's a shame. By day, many of those same people complain about the lousy economy or job losses, meanwhile at night they scare away people who are willing to spend money here. It's a strange contradiction, and it's kind of sad if that suits some people just fine.

Having said that, I agree that Dover still has massive potential. (It's one of the reasons we chose this town.) I didn't realize that as little as 10 years ago, this was a wasteland. That's incredible. I wonder what it will be like in the next few years. For now, it’s already a charming place with historical architecture, beautiful walking areas and shops. The Children's Museum being here is a big deal, and the town council is figuring out where to put a parking lot to accommodate visitors. That all bodes well for the Dover renaissance. Plus, like you said, there are more outsiders moving to the area...

Hmmm. I just re-read that paragraph. Looking at all that, I can see why some Old Dover locals are unnerved. "Too much, too fast" can certainly unsettle people, so no wonder places like Dover Soul or Crescent City Bistro, etc..., didn't survive. (I also wonder how good they really were. Judging by the current foodie standards here, I have little faith that they were done well, be it in cuisine or decor. But that’s just a guess. I have no idea what they were like, so feel free to set me straight.)

Whatever the case, that was then. Even though it may not have been that long ago, times are still changing. With the successes of Blue Latitudes and Chop Shop (no matter what you think of the food), the way has been paved for more and better restos to come in and succeed by actually doing things right.

I don’t want to be the judgmental jerk who longs for change if the locals are happy with their current choices. Thing is, even they acknowledge that the food scene stinks (at least the ones I spoke to). When they want a great dining experience, they go to Portsmouth or even Exeter. So, it seems, there is at least some desire here for a decent food experience.

I figure — Old Dover or New Dover, townie or city folk, foodie or no — everyone's got to eat. It’s the one thing everybody has in common. So it seems odd to me that there could be a town (here or anywhere on planet Earth) that wouldn't welcome fresh, delicious food served in a nice atmosphere. And even if they don’t want it, then maybe there is (or soon will be) enough of a stream of visitors and New Dover people to support something more than just stringy steak tips and bland potatoes.

I’m reminded of a place in rural Pennsylvania. It’s called Gracie’s 21st Century Cafe, and it’s this funky bit of sophistication set out in the middle of nowhere in Pine Forge, PA. So you drive past all the farms, tractors, etc…, through the tree-lined, unpaved roadways, and all of a sudden, there’s this big sign that tells you something unusual is sitting there. You go in, and the decor is upscale and pleasant, the food is interesting and fresh, and the clientele is savvy and stylish. I have no idea where they come from, considering the working-class area, and yet there they are — sipping cocktails and spending money. You really feel like you’re in a hidden, yet worldly place, and that in itself is kind of intoxicating. And from what I remember, the food was amazing. So impressed with this place, I’ve been talking about Gracie’s for nearly 20 years to anyone who will listen — even though I actually haven’t been there in more than a decade. Now that’s a lasting impression!

I think Gracie’s is a prime example that an upscale eatery can survive, and actually thrive, even in a town with pretty low food expectations — if it’s done right. So I’m thinking, if Pine Forge can support an excellent restaurant, I can’t see why Dover — with all its potential — couldn’t.

Okay, I’ve spouted on long enough for one post. But I do love this dialogue. I feel like I learned some things I didn’t know before, and that’s so much appreciated, bewley.

P.S. An emerging arts scene in Dover? I had no idea. It sounds intriguing. Can you tell me more about it?

Aug 04, 2009
zaetah in Northern New England

The Hounds of Dover, NH

I just recently moved from NYC to Dover, NH, two months ago. I thought I was adequately prepared for the new environs. After all, I wasn't expecting this place to be anything like New York, of course, and I grew up in a Pennsylvania suburb, so I know what it's like to live in an "Olive Garden" town. Even so, even I was taken a little aback by the food scene here. The options are indeed limited, and there's a sore lack of decent restaurants. (If I had money, I'd start an upscale resto here, because it would go nearly unchallenged.)

Luckily, I live near Portsmouth, NH. While it's not an extremely exciting foodie destination either, it's worlds better than much of the fare outside my front door. I've also met a few fellow foodie friends, and we're talking about starting a private supper club so we can stretch our cooking muscles a bit and enjoy some interesting meals. But I do feel kind of bummed about this. Mostly because, if I'm living in a town, I'd like to support my local businesses here.

In any case, I've been thinking about the food I've had in Dover to date, and thought I'd write up a rundown of the experiences so far. This is, of course, not a comprehensive list. Just some thoughts from the point of view of an outsider just arriving in this strange land. I hope it's interesting for locals, and maybe even helpful for others similarly moving to the area. I may update this, as my husband and I try additional venues.

THE LIST
This is not a comprehensive list; just a list of places we've tried so far. In general, the best food we've encountered in Dover seems to be from the homespun places. Silver Moon Creperie and Harvey's Bakery are terrific. Blue Latitudes and Christopher's? Not so much:

SILVER MOON: As many have mentioned, this is really good. The atmosphere is small but kid-friendly, with an eccentric and eclectic color palette. There's a little bar in front, soda-fountain style, so you can belly up and order right from the mounted stools. Or you can order at the register and find a table. The husband-and-wife team are extremely friendly, and always have a recommendation for you, if you don't know what to have. (I hate going somewhere, and the servers have no opinions or suggestions on the food. That's always a bad sign.) It's not a swanky place, but the crepes are really good, the ingredients are fresh and the service is always pleasant. ++

HARVEY'S BAKERY: A bakery/diner that makes their own ever-changing menu of homemade soups everyday is always aces in my book. Some diners look old and run-down, but this is quaint and charming and has real old-fashioned appeal. It should; it's been around forever. Many of the patrons, even the older ones, have been coming here since they were young. The menu items are decent, but I'm always interested in the creative specials they have going on that day. So far, I haven't had anything there I don't like yet. You can tell the people that run the place care about the food. And I just love that the waitresses are always game to chat, so you just feel like you're at home here. My only gripe is that they're only open for breakfast and lunch. Oh, and they're not open on Sundays. Now what is that all about? I should bring that up next time I go. ++

BLUE LATITUDES: This was probably one of the worst meals I've ever had. I ordered a King Crab Legs special, and for the pleasure of paying close to $30, I had a dry, overcooked entree with very little seasoning at all. My cocktail tasted like it was vodka with some powdered or bottled mix thrown in there. Ick. My husband had a pasta dinner that he managed to choke down, but in all honesty, it wasn't any better than the stuff you get in jarred tomato sauces. He went back there to meet some friends another time, and apparently, the lousy dining experience didn't get any better the second time around. *Sigh* I hear this is the best that Dover has to offer. I just can't believe that this is true. I haven't tried Chop Shop yet, so I'm holding out some hope. On a positive note, the space inside Blue Latitudes is beautiful (it's in a converted brick mill building, with vaulted ceilings), and the decor seems okay, so maybe having beers there might be fine. But I doubt I'll ever eat there again. --

CHRISTOPHER'S THIRD STREET GRILLE: What can I say? The decor is pretty dull and boring, and they don't seem to understand the value of playing background music for dinner service, so the experience felt kind of -- well, kind of spare. But they did get some things right. The french onion soup was good, and their sausage and cheese soup was very tasty. The bad side of that was they messed up our orders, so there were 2 onions soups at first. But no big deal. We got that sorted, and we were enjoying our starters. Then my husband had the pork chop, and that was okay — not fantastic, but edible. I expected more from a restaurant with the word "Grille" in it, but it was perfectly serviceable. I wish I could tell you what I ate, but I simply can't remember. That's a bad sign. The scariest thing is that I really should remember, because it was a very memorable meal — not for the cuisine, but because there was a metal shard in my food. It looked like it came from one of those metal scouring pads. I nearly swallowed it. I might try the restaurant again someday, but I'll make sure I've gotten a health insurance policy by then. -

CARTELLI'S: I have some mixed emotions about this place. The only thing worse than Christopher's no-music approach was suffering bad music. I really enjoyed the food here, but the old-school Italian songs, circa-1965, made it feel really cheesy. I love the standards, don't get me wrong, but how many times can you hear "That's Amore" during the course of a meal? I get it, okay? It's an Italian restaurant. Do you need to hit me over the head with that? Oh, and forget coming here on a Friday or Saturday night. The loud bar scene overtakes the restaurant. I had to yell across the table to my husband, which didn't make for a great night out. On the plus side, I appreciate that they tried to do something creative by having a Sushi bar in there. But it felt weird and misplaced. I love sushi, but I was so NOT in the mood to order it, given the ambience. I think they could've tried to a better job of the whole East-meets-West thing — maybe in the decor or a more integrated fusion menu. As it was, it was a strange, random thing to have in the dining room. +-

ORIENTAL DELIGHT: The place is clean, and the decor features some decent craftsmanship by the architect, so I can see how they are trying to create an interesting and creative environment. Most of the food is good (I didn't care for the Peking dumplings, which are called "raviolis" and had a strange sauce over it), but everything else is enjoyable. The sushi is fresh, the sushi chefs are awesome and friendly, and the service was extremely accommodating. We bemoaned the almost non-existent sake menu, and the next time we came, they had ordered a new one for us. That says a lot, at least for me. I don't usually care for places that lump a bunch of Asian cuisines together, as if they were all one country called "The Orient." (They are separate countries with very, very different flavor profiles, for crying out loud!) But I forgive that, since the tendency seems to be rampant up here in NH. Sadly, however, after a handful of visits, I'm starting to find the menu kind of boring. I just wish they'd experiment with some specials once in a while. So overall, I like Oriental Delight, but I'm itching for more choices. +

FISH SHANTY: If you like fried stuff, this place is great. The breading doesn't feel heavy, the portions are large, the homemade tartar sauce is fantastic (and I don't even like tartar sauce, usually), and Annie can talk your ear off. She's the matriarch of the family-run business, which is right next to the Days Inn. The decor is — well, the charm of the place doesn't really have to do with the visual ambience. It's pretty barebones, with some booths and tables, and a handful of paintings on the walls. But the food is good, reasonably priced and the family that runs the joint are great salt-of-the-earth type of people. +

TASTE OF INDIA: Looks terrible on the outside, like a shabby shack with big Pepsi signage on the side. Inside however, it's cute with a definite try for authentic ethnic charm. The people are kind of shy, but nice and accommodating. (For some reason, my request for an iced chai was met with a raised eyebrow and a shrug, but they gave me what I asked for, no matter how strange it seemed to them.) The Shrimp Masala is nothing short of excellent! I could eat that every week. Spicy, but not too spicy. Sweet, but not clawingly so. I have no idea what the rest of the menu is like, because I am so enchanted with this dish, I keep ordering it. The restaurant doesn't seem to have a lot of patronage, though, and I'm not sure why. I wonder if the very thing I like about them is what is getting in their way: I get the sense that their food is authentic. I'm no expert on India, so I don't know that for sure, but to me, it seems like they're not dumbing down their menu to appeal to a generic tastes. I'm grateful for that. It may not necessarily be fine dining, but it's one of the few places in Dover that I actually crave from time to time. +

LA FESTA: Good pizzas. Really. I come from New York, and I'm telling you these are good pizzas. Now, that's not to say that they're perfect (the first time we ate there, the pie was soggy and kind of watery), but the flavor has always been good. I haven't found a decent mom-and-pop, NY-style slice yet, but as far as brick oven goes, I join the chorus of La Festa fans. And, I need to say, I kind of like the decor. It's a bit funky, at least in front room, and it almost makes me feel like I'm back home in NY. The only nitpicky thing is that, again, there's no music. In the separate dining room, which is a lot barer, I would love to hear some jazzy tunes to keep the energy up. Not that music is always required: For example, when a place offers plenty of interesting people-watching or a gorgeous interior theme, then it's forgivable. But when there's not a lot to look at, the wait for your food can feel kind of excruciating. +

THAI CUISINE RESTAURANT: I've had a couple of good meals here. The decor is cute (maybe even a little overdone, by Dover's standards, but I like it) and the service is always friendly. Things can take a little while when they're busy, but they never get snippy. My gripe with this venue has to do with their Pad Thai. It's the standard by which I judge Thai restaurants. This one has a sort of soupy liquid that goes with it. I find that strange. Is it a regional thing? Does a certain province in Thailand do it that way? I have no clue. But I found it odd, so much so that I could barely eat it. But their spring rolls are good, and I love their artery-clogging Crab Rangoons (which are only usually found in Chinese restaurants in NY). So I don't love this place, but I like it well enough to keep trying its different dishes.

KELLEY'S ROW: This venue is the bane of my existence. I live nearby, and the noise that comes out of there is ridiculous. I don't live far from this bar, and I'm often kept awake by the screaming, drunken patrons. I'm trying to overlook this fact and keep my annoyance at bay long enough to eat here. I haven't managed that yet, but I'll report back if I do.

THE BARLEY PUB: This is not a restaurant. Really, it's a funky beer pub with a couple of sandwiches and cheese plates. But I had a meatloaf sandwich there that was amazing. Just really, truly, spectacular. I can't say enough about it. I've never had a meatloaf in a restaurant that I like, and this was melt-in-your-mouth, bacon-wrapped exercise in deliciousness. It was on special, which means I can't have this all the time. That's both good (for my waistline) and bad (for my palate), but it was one of the finest things I've put in my mouth since I arrived in this town. It might not be fair to judge a venue by one sandwich that was put on temporary special for that one night, but I don't care. It was that good. I'll definitely be trying their other stuff. +++

That's it so far. As you can tell, we've eaten out a lot in the short time we've been here (and I haven't even covered the places we've been to outside the town limits). We're hoping there's some hidden gem we haven't heard of yet, so we can check that out too, but so far — the "low-brow" dining scene far exceeds the "high-brow" dining scene. (I keep harboring some fantasy that I can call Gordon Ramsay in to pull a Kitchen Nightmares-style makeover of one of these "fine dining establishments.") Sad to say, I still haven't found a stilettos-and-makeup worthy spot yet. The few places that are attempting to be a swanky resto, with equally exciting cuisine, leave a lot to be desired.

So there remains plenty of space for a foodie place here. None of these "upscale" spots has gotten it right. I might change my mind once we hit the Chop Shop, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up high. I've heard mixed reviews on this one too, but I'm trying to keep an open mind.

Thanks for reading.

Aug 03, 2009
zaetah in Northern New England