Warming winter foods are harder to come by in restaurants, so we scanned menus as we traveled, fearing that in these heady days when fusion and eclectic are the cuisine buzzwords, meatloaf and pot roast might be long forgotten. Happily, we discovered, they are not. A few may have changed a little over the years, with new sauces or wild mushrooms replacing the button variety in the gravy, but they haven’t suffered from the update.
Meatloaf turned out to be the easiest to find — although it is certainly not common. We were pretty sure we’d find it at Meredith and Peter Stolper’s Portsmouth favorite, The Stockpot (431-1851), and we did. The meatloaf platter is served with mashed potatoes and gravy, for an old fashioned $8.95.
In Dover, we found our meatloaf at the Orchard Street Chop Shop (749-0006, www.orchardstreetchopshop.com. Chef /owner Chris (Koz) Kozlowski uses (no surprise here) USDA Prime ground beef, and blends some finely minced vegetables into the mix. He, too, serves it with mashed potatoes. This is the same Koz that wowed Seacoast foodies with their first taste of alligator at his nearby Crescent City Bistro.
At Manchester’s Cotton (622-5488, www.cottonfood.com) Executive Chef Jeffrey Paige makes sure we know this isn’t some new-fangled dish by labeling it “Retro Meat Loaf” and ups the ante by serving it with “all-you-can-eat mashed potatoes.” The meatloaf is a combination of beef and pork, and it’s served with a wild mushroom port wine sauce, accompanied by steamed broccolini. Maybe not just like Grandma used to make, but a very tasty combination.
The next quest was for pot roast, that slow-cooked chunk-o-beef that melts in your mouth. We found it in Durham, at The ffrost Sawyer Tavern in the Three Chimneys Inn (868-7800, 888-399-9777, www.threechimneysinn.com). Chef Ted McCormack serves his BBQ pot roast and mashed potatoes with traditional peas and onions. Knowing Chef McCormack’s dedication to using locally produced ingredients, we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that at least some of these grew in New Hampshire.
Chef/owner Michael Buckley is offering a German-style pot roast in his brand-new Merrimack restaurant, Buckley’s Great Steaks (424-0995, www.buckleysgreatsteaks.com). He serves it with a red wine and tomato reduction of the pan juices, and the ultimate German comfort food, spaetzle.
Nothing says comfort quite like a juicy pork roast just out of the oven. We found roast pork tenderloin with a chutney of fall fruits at The Old Courthouse (863-8360, www.eatatthecourthouse.com) in Newport. The menu changes weekly, so Chef Ted Blackington might be offering New Zealand lamb chops with mint sauce. I could get pretty comfortable with that. NH