As a former New York resident and current food and beverage writer for New Hampshire Magazine and The Nashua Telegraph, I was asked to put together my thoughts on what palate-related establishments Manchester is lacking.
Having moved to New Hampshire in 2005, I do feel that the Queen City has been going through a bit of a Renaissance with the addition of a few new restaurants and bars. However, one of my favorite things about the New York lifestyle is location hopping – i.e. pre-dinner cocktails (and a “tasty”, as we call it) at one location, dinner at the next, dessert at another, after-dinner drinks somewhere else. I realize the early curfew works against this idea in New Hampshire – dinner reservations in New York are rarely made before 9pm – but it’s not impossible if one starts early enough. Here’s my suggestions as to what could fill in the blanks surrounding the decent crop of restaurants that we already have.
- A wine bar. Something moody and lush, with deep wood and velvet chairs, a jazz band, and a brilliant selection. Portland Pie has a small but solid assortment of wines on casket tap; Republic has two. It would be great to blow this idea up, but leave the cigar smoking to Castros and Karma.
- A place to get brunch on Saturday, not just Sunday. Right now, our only choices are the Red Arrow, Jewell & the Beanstalk, and Julien’s, which are all Mimosa and Bloody Mary-free. Someone needs to fill in the gaping hole left here. And honestly, Sunday brunch is sorely lacking as well. I think the only real options (that include cocktails) are Firefly and Richard’s now that Mint is closed for renovations.
- While we’re at it, a place (besides the Red Arrow) that serves a full breakfast menu after 1pm. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Red Arrow. But it can be hard to get a seat and I feel the need to shower the greasy smell off of me afterwards. I wish places like Jewell & the Beanstalk and Julien’s were open later. And I wish Julien’s didn’t only take cash.
- An independently-owned coffee bar with evening hours. A place writers like myself could collect for an amazing cappuccino, snacks, outlet access, and cushy seating. The Bridge Café is on the right track (and has a small breakfast menu that’s served until closing at 5pm) but the seating doesn’t fit this bill. Ditto for Republic. And J.Dubs is more grab & go.
- More restaurants that offer al fresco dining. I feel this has picked up a bit, but I still want MORE. Outside dining turns a simple meal into an event.
- A restaurant that specializes in family-style meals. One of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan features a menu of pass around-sized dishes, which forces everyone at the table to share, and is fantastically affordable. Sharing leads to better dinner conversation. And again, an event. I’m told Richard’s offers family-style dishes on Sunday evenings but I’ve yet to try it. Have you?
- A café and bakery. Maybe someplace like Michael’s Pastries in the North End, where you can get a delicious dessert and an after-dinner coffee. I’m excited about the cupcake place that’s coming to Elm Street but I fear they’re only going to be open during the day. (This could also be the same location as #4.)
- A pretzel stand. Where can you get a pretzel in Manchester besides Fisher Cats stadium or the Verizon? A warm weather travesty.
- An oyster bar. If I could transport Surf from Nashua to Manchester, and make it a tad more casual, I would. I’m glad that Hooked has joined us, but what’s great about Surf is that the bar is huge and there’s also the option of sitting outside.
- Bring back the Korean Place! Although they had odd hours and only took cash, the Korean Place has left a gaping hole in my stomach.
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