As I’ve mentioned a few times on here, I generally prefer not to review a place if the reason I went there was a special event. However, some places (like the Cabane a Sucre a few months ago) are special event only, and in other cases (like the The Corner House Inn), the nature of the special event isn’t directly food related, and I’ve got a reasonable expectation of being able to have a similar menu item on a regular visit. In the case of PINE, we went there for a special Friends of Laphroaig Scotch Dinner, and ended being very impressed with the food as well.
Most years, we tend to do the same as other couples and celebrate our anniversary with a night out. This year, we decided to tick another new restaurant off our list: Candela Tapas Lounge in Hanover. I’m actually a little surprised it took us as long as it did to visit Candela: they opened in June in the space formerly occupied by Rosey’s Cafe, and new restaurant openings are fairly rare around here. But various other events kept me occupied, so it wasn’t until September that we had a chance to visit.
A week after getting back from Iceland, we found ourselves in a mood for Brunch. There aren’t really a lot of brunch options in the Upper Valley (although some of the inns, in particular, have decent ones). But looking over options, we realized that we had yet to try out Market Table in Hanover. Market Table is the relatively recent (if I recall correctly, they opened in May 2011) offshoot of the successful Allechante bakery in Norwich. Nestled in the building on the corner of Main and Lebanon (which I’ve already heard referred to as “The Starbucks building”, that didn’t take long), it’s in the basement space that used to be India Queen. It’s been heavily renovated, including the addition of a nice outdoor terrace, and a nice indoor seating area (as well as a takeout counter nearly identical to its cousin over in Norwich).
Ever since they opened this Spring, I’ve been getting people asking me if I’ve tried out 3 Guys yet, and if so, what I thought. I’ll be honest, it took me a while to get over there and try it. First, I’ve been traveling a lot this spring and summer (as I write this, I’m sitting at a gate a BWI…), and I’ve barely been around Hanover to check it out. Seocnd, I’ll be frank, it wasn’t my top priority—I’ll be the first to admit that I’m more than a bit of a BBQ snob (check out my various BBQ reviews) for a sampling). In particular, I’d recently completed two trips to Texas, both featuring pretty good BBQ. Meanwhile, my general experiences with BBQ here in New England have generally been…. very, very disappointing. To the point where I believe that the phrase “New England BBQ” needs to trigger “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!” sort of alarms, and an accompanying adjustment in one’s expectations. Oh, it’s not completely dismal, there actually are a few decent BBQ joints hiding out there, but they are interlaced between some truly horrendous places (here’s where I need to plug the excellent Northeast BBQ review site, pigtrip.net, which has allowed me to find several of these gems in my travels). So New England BBQ joints don’t exactly trickle up to the top of my priority list. But last Thursday, I found myself needing lunch, and with an important choice on my hands: go find lunch someplace, or attend our corporate Wellness seminar on “how to pack a healthy lunch.” My choice was made for me… I grabbed a handful of coworkers and we went to 3 Guys to finally check them out.
Way back in 2009 (ancient history by modern internet standard), I remember seeing several of my online friends passing around an article from Travel+Leisure on America’s Best 10 Burgers. Normally I don’t pay too much attention to these sorts of Top 10 lists, but this one caught my attention, since burger number 10 on the list was the “Murph Burger” from Murphy’s on the Green in Hanover. This caught my attention, since I’ve been to Murphy’s on the Green a lot (one of the byproducts of living in an area with few restaurants is that any that are halfway decent get a lot of my repeat business), and had even had some burgers there, but couldn’t recall ever having a “Murph Burger”, and none of the burgers there really struck me as being memorable. But I made a note to go get a Murph Burger at some point and report back. Well, months kept passing by, and mostly my visits to Murphy’s were for beer, but a few weeks ago we found ourselves looking for dinner in Hanover, and I decided it was finally time to cross another item off of my to-do list…
I’ve always been a great fan of gelato. The Italian cousin to ice cream, gelato is a more subtler variation on the same idea. milk, cream, sugar, and flavoring. But just like the idea that while hash browns and french fries are both the same thing (fried potatoes), it’s the difference in execution that makes gelato such a great product. More milk than in ice cream, less air, gentle churning, and a warming serving temperature always make for a pleasant bowl of rich, creamy gelato. Unfortunately, while ice cream shops are plentiful (indeed, soft serve places are a dime a dozen around here in the summer months), good gelato places are fairly rare in the US. And, until 2010, nonexistent around here. Until Morano Gelato opened up shop.
For the last several years, I’ve bee an active member of The Upper Valley Beer Society, which is primarily a homebrew club, although we also have visiting brewers, go on the occasional brewery/cidery tours, and host the occssional special event, such as last March’s St Patricks Corned Beef dinner in conjuction with Umpleby’s Bakery in Hanover. Back in April, Charles, the owner of Umpleby’s, distributed an essay about the history of the Beefsteak, a New York area traditional that is a lengthy food event featuring profound quantities of beef (and a few other meats), beer, and little else (tradition also mandates that one wear their “second best suit”). We found the tradition compelling, and given our easy access to amazing local beef and beer up here, decided to throw one of our own.
While I’ve previously blogged about Umpleby’s Bakery and Cafe in Hanover, they’ve recently made a menu change that made it worth revisiting my review. In short, they’ve partly entered the world of burgers. Several minor happenings combined to make this happen. First, Umpleby’s has had a good relationship with Back Beyond Farm in Chelsea, VT for several years (if I recall correctly, that’s who supplies the sausage for their excellent sausage rolls). Charles Umpleby also read an article in New York Magazine about Pat La Frieda’s wholesale meat business that sells well-regarded hamburger meat to many pubs and restaurants in the city (you can read more about Pat La Frieda’s in a tour done by Nick Solares over at AHT) and wanted to try something similar. Finally, he’s already running a successful bakery and cafe that includes sandwiches, so it wasn’t a stretch to add a burger: the Umpleburger (great name, by the way).
In one of the more anticipated changes in the local restaurant scene, Umpleby’s new location at 3 South Street in Hanover (approximately where the hardware store used to be before the big South Main/South Street construction happened) is now open, so Carol and I decided to head over there for Sunday breakfast before heading out for a hike. Previously located in Bridgewater, Umpleby’s has been known for several years as the go-to people for croissants and meat pies at the Norwich Farmers Market. Indeed, either the Umpleby’s line would be quite long, or they’d be sold out.
I’ve held off for a long time on review Lou’s, for a number of reasons, including (a) it’s in downtown Hanover, so it’s obvious, and (b) it’s probably the most-reviewed restaurant in the area. But for completeness, and since that’s where I ate this morning, I decided it was finally time to write it up. Lou’s is quite the institution in Hanover, having opened in 1947 (so I’m expecting some minor press next year as the restaurant turns 60). And it obviously has quite the following with both the Dartmouth crowd and the tourist traffic, since the place is universally packed after around 9am every morning (and generally, forget about going there on a saturday). Some would call it small (but by Upper Valley standards it’s pretty roomy), and having a long queue of folks waiting for seats gawking at you while you eat your meal is part of the charm.