Poor Thom’s Tavern (Meriden, NH)

One of the notable things about living in a rural area is that, with relatively few restaurants, when a new place opens, it generally gets noticed right away. Just over a year ago, I was driving through the relatively quiet town of Meriden, NH, and noticed that in addition to their Deli Mart (which does serve up some pretty good fried chicken, sandwiches, and snacks), that the house across from the library was getting a major remodel, including a sign announcing the soon-opening Poor Thom’s Tavern. Finally, a real restaurant in Meriden! They opened at the end of June 2016, and while it took me until recently to get there for a visit, I was quite happy to see a new place showing up.

Poor Thom’s has a slightly unusual ambiance: coming inside, there’s a bar on the left, and a dining room on the right, and both are lightly decorated, with the primary decor being “slightly dark”. But any misgivings I had about the ambiance were quickly forgiven; the staff quickly welcomed me, and I found ourselves sitting at a high top by the bar looking over the menu. My first observation? For small town NH, they’ve got a decent tap list, with several local beers available (on my visit, two notable good beers were Road 2 Ruin and Switchback). Menu-wise, Poor Thom’s advertises as a “Tavern”, and that’s basically the menu as well: a selection of nice-looking appetizers (including duck poutine and risotto dumplings as two offerings), upscale pub-style sandwiches, lighter dinners, and other “upscale pub” food items, as well as a reasonably good list of pizzas. We ended up deciding on three items: a pair of roasted beet salads to start, a pepperoni and mushroom pizza for Carol, and a kimchi chicken sandwich for myself.

For someone that generally disliked beets growing up, they’ve grown on me, and the beet salad here was pretty good: golden beets, a selection of lettuce greens, baby spinach, toasted sunflower seeds, cucumbers, onions and some gorgonzola topping it off. The result was good, although I’m not the greatest fan of sunflower seeds, and actually, I probably could have used more beets. But definitely an enjoyable salad to start things off.

The pizza was also rather good; while I wouldn’t call Thom’s out particularly as a “pizza place”, the pizza here was quite good: a nice mix of cheese, pepperoni (a decent, thick-sliced version, I think from the nearby Taylor Bros. Smokehouse), and some nice fresh mushrooms, served up with a nice char on the crust and a good amount of bubbling cheese, this was certainly an enjoyable pizza.

But the star of the meal for me was the kimchi chicken. Those that know me well know that I’m a sucker for pretty much anything with kimchi in it, but here, I was pleasantly surprised that here, the chicken sandwich itself was the star: a nice, thick, and juicy chicken breast, nicely breaded, and cooked to perfection, it’s one of the best chicken sandwiches I’ve had in a while. Add in a few healthy scoops of a nice, fairly spicy kimchi, and served up on a nicely toasted bun (a step entirely too many places skip). The result is a very pleasing sandwich indeed.

Overall, I like Poor Thom’s. It’s location isn’t terribly convenient for me, but I’ll have to say, I enjoyed the chicken sandwich enough I’ve already gone back one to have it again. Add in some good pizza and some other nice pub food, and a reasonably good beer selection, and I’m sure it will continue to get the occasional visit from us, particularly if they continue to do a Sunday brunch menu.

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