Main Street Nashua after dark

Courtney at Studio 99.

As a former resident of the Gate City, I was excited to revisit the downtown area. In need of a date for the evening, I rang up one of my Nashua girls and we made plans to catch the Open Mic Night at Studio 99, which had moved from an awkward-to-find second-floor location on the back of a building off Main to a more centralized first-floor location with a huge glass front at 177 Factory St.

We forewent pre-dinner cocktails and opted for early dinner at MT's Local Kitchen & Wine Bar. Although the bar at MT's is small, it wraps around on one side so, if you're lucky enough to snag the seats that flank the corner, you can somewhat face your date and still be part of the action. It's never an issue with this particular girlfriend, but this sort of seating provides great padding for conversational lulls - a little dating tip from me to you.

Nothing on the printed menu sounded perfect, but the special board lit both of us up - pork and brie stuffed ravioli with apple chutney, a lamb flatbread with a cucumber-wasabi drizzle and a fabulous Mediterranean salad with feta cheese, cous cous, eggplant and black olives. They were out of the listed flight of Syrahs, which was très disappointing, but our perfectly tempo-ed bartender (Karen) subbed in a Spanish tasting of white and red and told us we could custom order our next flight off the wine list and that we were always welcome to share any of the tastings. For two people, two hours and more wine than I should put in print, our bill only totaled $55.

On the short walk from MT's Local to the donation-based Studio 99 - a BYOB location offering a corkscrew and cups - we swung by the car to grab the bottle of white we had chilling in my trunk.

The headliner (Oen Kennedy) at Studio 99 was Ani DeFranco-esque in his vocal stylings and very interactive, polling us between songs for what we'd like to hear. When he said, "I have a few different veins I can go in," I replied, "Pick one you haven't tapped yet." His answer was a song with spot-on imitations of various bird calls including the horned owl. As the locals took the stage, I realized that Studio 99 provided a sense of musical community that I haven't felt since hanging out in the bars and coffee houses of Woodstock, N.Y.

After the show we decided to balance out our relatively healthy dinner with some deep-fried dessert goodness at the Sausage King of Nashua. Open until 2 a.m., this order-at-the-counter joint (across the street from The Peddler's Daughter) is the perfect after-hours spot. We ate a smorgasbord of deep-fried Oreos (in regular and mint flavors), a deep-fried Three Muskekeers and a deep-fried Reese's Peanut Butter Cup while sitting in the window and watching the action on Main Street. Our faces covered in powdered sugar and chocolate sauce, Nashua had indeed provided us with a memorable - and affordable - Evening Out.

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