Dinner, drinks and music all in downtown Dover
Evening Out author Courtney Hoppe.
I began my adventure in Dover with a girlfriend in celebration of her upcoming birthday. To get things started, we joined the after-work crowd for cocktails at Top of the Chop, the casual-yet-still-upscale-feeling lounge on the upper level of the Orchard Street Chop Shop. Although the martini glasses were small, the girl talk flowed and even the bartender (also female) got in on the uncomfortable undergarment discussion. By the time we left, we had succeeded in livening up the bar and planning my friend’s outfit for an upcoming wedding — where she’ll meet her new man’s family for the first time, no pressure.
From there, we walked over to The Spaghetti Stain, which, in an emerging theme for the night, sits on top of Kelly’s Row, a popular Dover pub with live music. Relatively new to Dover, The Spaghetti Stain is owned by a super adorable couple. The small restaurant boasts a surprisingly large bar but the crown jewel is the rooftop deck, a widow’s walk overlooking all of downtown. And let me tell you: downtown Dover is c-u-t-e. It feels kind of like Portsmouth’s cool, leather-jacket-wearing cousin; you know, the one that smoked in the bathroom during Catholic school.
The Spaghetti Stain’s menu features varying levels of Italian offerings — everything from chicken parm subs to more glamorous risotto dishes. And that’s exactly what we ordered: a chicken parm sub, butternut squash risotto with grilled shrimp, which was on special that evening and a Caprese salad to start us off. The highlight of the meal was getting to interact with Vinny, who swapped stories and offered insights in between courses. He was basically a walking, talking intermezzo.
After lingering for a bit with our feet propped up, a glass of Pinot Grigio in our hands, and the deck’s charming twinkle lights turned on, I parted ways with the birthday girl and met my boyfriend down at Kelly’s. Having been in a Seacoast-based band, he remains supportive of the scene and loves catching some live music. I also love catching live music but more so to dance and make a borderline fool of myself than to see what equipment the band is using and chat with the guitarist between sets. The band on this particular evening was Livin’ the Dream and so called for good reason; the lead singer was even able to do proper justice to the likes of Adele and Amy Winehouse. The all-ages crowd, who seemed to know each other for the most part, was way into it, shaking hands and shaking their money makers.
Since my boyfriend got there early, he was able to secure a table near the dance floor. Otherwise, it’s standing room only at Kelly’s after 8:30 p.m. Although I had already eaten, I tasted my boyfriend’s baked haddock and it was moist and delicious. The spinach dip and pita chips I saw delivered to another table looked like they had been slipped into the oven right before being served in order to get that crunchy coating, which is often missing from so many restaurant spinach dips. I have been dreaming of them ever since. Perhaps NH Magazine will allow me a Dover, Part 2?