The Gourmet Buzz
What are people looking for when they dine out these days? With the push to low carbs and healthier eating in general, three new restaurants have created their focus around dining-out options that don’t raise your blood pressure. In Peterborough, Dave Chicane, former owner of Acqua Bistro, spent several months traveling in Southeast Asia focusing on the cuisine of Vietnam. Inspired by the healthy aspects and intriguing flavor combinations of Vietnamese food, and knowing he could create a fun atmosphere with affordable food, he opened Pearl (924-5225) on Route 202. The long narrow restaurant features an oyster bar that is complemented with authentic Hanoi fried spring rolls, raw Ahi tuna, clams in Thai broth and other fresh seafoods with noodles and Asian sauces. Prices range from $5-$15. Chicane says upscale restaurants require a commitment by the diner. This time he wanted to provide a more affordable, casual alternative. He bought a Mini Cooper for delivering take-out orders, so how bad can it be? In downtown Peterborough, people are flocking to the new Ava Marie (924-5993) ice cream and chocolate shop. Both chocolates and ice creams are made on the premises. Healthy option here is that owner Susan Mazzone is offering a “baby” cone that is just the right size. In Nashua, Will Foden’s menu at The Tavern (577-9015) features a host of “bar snacks” that include chicken lollipops (drumsticks with the meat turned back to expose the leg bone as a handle) with a smoked pepper glaze. An interesting glass of wine from Australia and one of Foden’s creative snacks, salads or low-carb entrées will satisfy without the overstuffed feeling. The same goes at the newly opened Jasmine Palace (882-9168) on West Pearl Street. Owner Sandy Hsieh brought in a chef from Taiwan to provide an interesting array of specialties and exotic Chinese hot dishes such as sea cucumbers in brown sauce — all this in addition to a conventional Chinese menu and Japanese sushi bar. Hsieh spent more than a year hand selecting her tiles, furniture and décor for the restaurant. She wanted to make sure the space was inviting and relaxing for diners.