(Update:: Home Hill Inn closed in January 2014. It has not yet reopened with new owners.)
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not often I review a place twice. But sometimes a place can really do something that requires it. Place can change owners. They can change their menu significantly. Or sometimes, I’ve found out that my previously visits somehow missed out on something phenomenal (like eating breakfast for almost 15 years at Al’s Breakfast in Minneapolis before discovering that they have one of the best Eggs Benedict I’ve ever had).
Well, Home Hill Inn in Plainfield, NH, has pulled off the latter two. A few years ago I finally got around to trying out Home Hill Inn, after discovering through friends that they have quite the Sunday brunch menu (you can read the original review here). Indeed, the brunch was phenomenal enough that I decided to try and return their for Easter brunch this year.
Well, apparently the elaborate ad they had in the local paper was quite successful, since by Tuesday morning before Easter they were booked solid for brunch, but offered me up a reservation for dinner. So while lunch was denied, I finally got to try their lounge menu.
Since I was there last, they’ve really revamped their menu. The two big changes are a very modest and affordable lounge menu, as well as a focus on house-cured meats (it appears that their current chef is quite into charcuterie). And the lounge menu is what I ended up doing, ordering the duck fat fries, a charcuterie plate, and the fried chicken off of the pub menu.
Well, in short, it was phenomenal. To start with, the duck fat fries, at a mere $4, are one of the best deals in the Upper Valley for fries: you get a rather substantial plate of perfectly cooked fries served up with a nice malt vinegar aioli. There are a few fries I like better (when Jesse’s does a good job with their bistro fries with truffle oil, they are phenomenal), but these are a solid performer, and worth catching.
Next up was the charcuterie plate, and at $17 for a chef’s selection of various cured meats, terrines, pates, and pickles, this has got to be one of the best culinary treats in the Upper Valley. On our visit, the plate (shown above right) was a very rich assortment including bresaola, liverwurst on toast, headcheese, mini-pastrami sandwiches, duck breasts prosciutto, and smoked beef tongue mini-sandwiches. Served up with house-made kraut, some pickled veggies, more aioili, and some whole grain mustard and toast. They do all the items in-house, and you can taste the quality: the bresaola was rich and flavorful. The pastrami was nicely spiced and had a sublime texture. The headcheese was, quite frankly, the best headcheese I’ve ever had (and light years better than the usually potted meat stuff) with rich, flavorful chunks of cheek meat. In short, this was a fabulous charcuterie plate (the only better one I can easily recall was one of my jamon iberico platters in Spain).
The dinner itself was a well-executed fried chicken with a hint of cayenne, served up with some fried okra (perfectly fried, not slimy) and fried green tomatoes. Well done, but frankly, I’d rather see some more of the charcuterie prowess of the chef.
So, while my original goal was to have another splendid brunch, I found that I’ve been missing out on some serious (and reasonably priced) charcuterie action at Home Hill Inn. And some decently priced beer ($4 pints) and lounge menu entrees. I’ll definitely be back.