Dinner and a show in Rochester
The historic Rochester Opera House offers an interesting and varied lineup of shows not found at other venues in New Hampshire.
Ever since I started dating someone who lives in Strafford, the neighboring town to Rochester, I’ve wanted to check out the Rochester Opera House, which has an interesting rotation of shows not seen on the playbills for the Palace Theatre in Manchester, the Music Hall in Portsmouth or the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry. And as luck would have it, my boyfriend’s friends had tickets to the Johnny Cash tribute show at the Rochester Opera House on the very weekend that I needed to conduct my research. Although we wouldn’t all be able to sit together, we could certainly sync up for some double-date action afterwards. But first, dinner was to be had.
There are a few restaurants in downtown Rochester that piqued my interest but the Chef’s Table compelled me the most, having relocated from Portsmouth about a year ago. Plus, I was able to score a discounted gift certificate through restaurant.com.
We were greeted at the door by one of the nicest hostesses I’ve ever encountered, whom we later learned is one of the owners, and pre-thanked for our patience since the restaurant was short-staffed that evening. Despite the warning, my boyfriend and I didn’t feel like we were made to wait. The concept at Chef’s Table is that every entrée comes with two appetizer choices. As Wendy fetched our bottle of wine, we strategized together on how we could basically taste one of everything on the menu. The highlight was the French Tartines appetizer that caught our eye when we saw it being delivered to another table. The combo of crunchy French bread, baby spinach, fresh mozzarella, tomato and honey ham was worth every calorie. The cucumber dill dressing on the house salad was also noteworthy. It doubles as the dip for the complimentary crudités.
On this cold-cold night, I was thankful that the Opera House was only a couple blocks away from the restaurant. Once inside, we unintentionally took a tour of the facility when what I assume were volunteer ushers put us in the wrong seats twice then removed us when their true ticket holders arrived. We finally settled on an abandoned row in the balcony, the perfect veil to giggle at the off-beat clapping of our fellow concert-goers. What was really great to see about this venue is how the attendees ranged in age from seniors to 20-somethings.
The Opera House building is impressive but unfortunately the sound on this particular show was not, so we scooted out at intermission and hooked up with our like-minded friends. Throwing snowballs, we made our way across the street to the Lilac City Grille, where beers were flowing, live music was afoot and the crowd was pleasantly rowdy, although they still struggled to clap on beat.