Best of NH 2018 Food Odds & Ends
Here you'll find our suggestion for destination dining you shouldn't miss, the best vegetarian dishes, our readers' favorite new restaurant and much more.
Creative Vegetarian: Forget stuffed peppers and frozen veggie burgers. At Gypsy Café in Lincoln, those who eschew meat aren’t just an afterthought. Vegetarians are used to pasta, but probably not Navajo pumpkin pasta with herb chipotle pumpkin sauce. There’s also a portobella mushroom quesadilla, an actually good spicy black bean burger, cranberry mac and cheese and the unforgettable malai kofta. These North Indian potato and vegetable balls — that are somehow not heavy at all — are served in a lick-the-plate-clean spicy tomato cream sauce over basmati rice.
Destination Dining: The Thompson House Eatery in Jackson had long been a local favorite until it closed several years ago. New owners Kate and Jeff Fournier have refreshed the space, planted a garden, and locals are reveling in the new comfortable space with a locally sourced menu. Find a few Italian-inspired pasta dishes, including foraged mushroom risotto, roasted farm chicken, house-pickled vegetables, and a retro but much improved housemade fennel-and-sea-salt russet potato chips with caramelized onion dip. Get there early or make reservations.
Dinner Special: Any Thursday night at North Conway’s Wild Rose Restaurant at the Stonehurst Manor you and your sweetie can each savor the famous prime rib for the price of one. The generous thick cut of succulent beef is the chef’s specialty, pit-smoked, aged and slow-roasted for 18 hours. Or choose from any of the other entrées on the regular menu — a half-rack of grilled lamb, pan-seared jumbo sea scallops with polenta, lobster ravioli — and if there’s an uneven number in your party, the odd person gets dinner for half-price.
Historic Dining: New Hampshire history isn’t all about our Colonial past. Newport, closer to the Connecticut River than the Piscataqua, is dense with important state history that you can contemplate while enjoying fine dining at The Old Courthouse, a beautiful Federalist-era building (it’s on the National Register of Historic Places) in the heart of the town’s historic district. Look up author Sarah Josepha Hale, robber baron Austin Corbin or disgraced judge John Fairbanks before making your reservation, and you’ll have lots to discuss over a elegant meal of creative American cuisine.
Locally Sourced Meal Kits: Don’t have time to plan a meal, gather ingredients and cook it? Local Baskit in Concord has you covered with their cook-at-home meal kits, complete with fresh, inspiring recipes and ingredients from New Hampshire farms and food artisans. Pick from artisan, fresh and simple baskit styles, with dishes such as roasted tomato, kale and farro risotto or crockpot chicken gnocchi.Partake in their weekly subscription plans or try it out with a same-day single baskit.
Pretzels: Family recipes and lots of love helped start this local pretzel company in Portsmouth. Port City Pretzels offers three different flavors — depending on your mood or taste buds, the cinnamon sugar is perfect for the sweet touch, feisty hot is for the spice lovers, and the dill ranch is just plain addictive. Just see how long a bag will last with your favorite beer. Available online or in select stores.
Survivor: Louie’s in Portsmouth excelled in service, ambiance and had a well-executed menu — the triple crown for restaurant success. But a fire in the nearby State Street Saloon affected them as well, and they closed abruptly. Now, more than a year later, the Louie’s team has relocated to The Carriage House in Rye. They feature a significant nod to the nearby sea with an extensive raw bar that includes caviar and oysters, while crowd-pleasing lobster and cod are on the menu as well. Be assured the same level of care will transfer to this new spot.
Under-$20 Menu: Finding a menu with “supper” entrées under $20 is like finding the dining unicorn. At The Crown Tavern in Manchester, enjoy steak frites, veal schnitzel, cedar plank salmon, plus “blue plate specials” — like Monday’s braised pork shank — priced for $20 and under. Other gastropub options include classic burgers with two patties and a special sauce, interesting wood-fired pizzas and more. Tip: Get there early and enjoy the pleasant outdoor patio. Also open for lunch and brunch.