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Fox and Harrow (Royalton, VT)

(Closed) It’s always a bit weird that when the various delays involved in writing up my restaurant reviews result in my having a review written for a place that, after my visit but before the review posts, ends up closing… With a usual delay of 2 months or so between a visit and a review, this isn’t the first time it has happened, indeed, you end up with these odd sorts of reviews that are like flies trapped in amber, referring to a place that my readers could never go. Indeed, in a bit of irony, my review of the previous restaurant to inhabit this space, the old Fox Stand Inn in North Royalton, fell to exactly this fate, closing two weeks after a rather pleasant dinner I had. My usual policy is to forego these reviews in favor of working on my backlog, but in this case, I thought I’d share the review in a bit of an ode to what pre-pandemic dining was, and what we hope it will soon be again.

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Sokolowski’s University Inn (Cleveland, OH)

(Closed) My regular readers know that once a year, I gather with several of my friends and we do a “Death March” in which we spend an extended weekend at a different metropolitan area exploring the food, drink, and cultural scene, culminating in a ~20 mile walk through the city to explore all the neighborhoods. We’ve done a lot of cities, New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Montreal, London… this year was Cleveland. Okay, I can hear a lot of you already asking, “Wait, what? Cleveland?!” But you heard me right. Yeah, Cleveland had some rough years of post-industrialism, burning rivers, and general rust belt blight, but as I learned with many business trips to the area in the ’90s through recent years, Cleveland is actually one of the country’s most underrated cities, having cleaned themselves up quite nicely, and the city has a plethora of great attractions, ranging from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to some great parks, some great breweries, and excellent restaurants both old and new. While much of the culinary coverage of Cleveland focuses on the newer places, we started our visit in the city with a trip to one of the old stalwarts of Cleveland ethnic dining: Sokolowski’s.

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Coda (Boston, MA)

(Closed) My extended weekend in Boston also provided me with a good opportunity to check in on a fairly recent discovery of our: Coda, in the Back Bay neighborhood (a short walk from Back Back Station). Coda is basically the little sibling of the more recognized The Salty Pig around the corner. While the Salty Pig focuses on “Salty Pig Parts of All Varieties”, with other menu items, burgers, and cocktails also available on the side, Coda is more relaxed, and is basically a “cocktail bar with a decent food menu.” Indeed, we first discovered Coda when rendezvousing with relatives in Back Bay, wanting to seek out a nice cocktail while we waited, and Coda was the find. But seeing the food emerging from the kitchen, I figured it was worth a revisit for some food.

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Butcher and the Boar (Minneapolis, MN)

(Closed) After an afternoon of work in Minneapolis, and a quick trip over to St Louis Park to visit The Four Firkins (one of the finest beer stores I’ve ever been to), it was time to have some dinner. I decided to meet up with my friend Andy from my MSU days, along with a former FIRST robotics student and intern of mine, Mas (and his fiancee) for dinner at Butcher and the Boar, one of Minneapolis’ newer bars located on Hennepin Avenue on the edge of the Loring Park neighborhood (looking at a Minneapolis Map, I guess technically most folks call this the “Harmon Neighborhood”). Opened by Jack Reibel, formerly the chef at the well-respected La Belle Vie in Stillwater and the Dakota Jazz Club, Butcher and the Boar is really about two things: beer and meat. First of all, the beer: one of the two centerpieces of the restaurant is their large bar (the other is the open kitchen across the dining area), with a rather impressive tap list, indeed, the beer list was one of my main reasons for coming. With a good list of American beers, with particular emphasis on regional brewers, it’s one of the best beer lists I’ve recently found in the Twin Cities. Indeed, I was able to have some local Surly, some “Goes to 11” by Bells, and some Deschute Mirror Pond. They’ve also got rather good wine and whiskey lists, although I wasn’t in the mood for indulging those that particular night.

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Market Table (Hanover, NH)

(Closed) 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).

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The Lebanon Diner (Lebanon, NH)

(Closed) One of the primary reasons I started this blog was that the greater Upper Valley area suffers from a dearth of restaurants. I’ve long been surprised that many of the area towns lack a decent number of eateries, and for a long time downtown Lebanon has lacked a real breakfast joint. Rumors would occasionally swirl around about a place opening up (there was even talk of another Farmers Diner happening here at some point), but nothing ever materialized. Until last month. Andy Hill used to be one of the bartenders/managers at Salt hill Pub on the other end of the Lebanon Mall, and I remember him telling me a few years ago that what he really wanted to do was to open his own breakfast spot in the community. Well, after several years of planning, he and his wife (city councilor and former mayor Karen Liot Hill) were finally able to bring the plan to fruition, opening the Lebanon Diner on the west end of the mall (across from The Cave, in a location that’s been, in my time here, a smoke shop and an eyeglass shop).

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Morano Gelato (Hanover, NH)

(Closed) 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.

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The Friendly Toast (Cambridge, MA)

(Closed) After I left Natick, I had another meeting at MIT. This time it was a morning meeting, and this time the Gods of Boston traffic were smiling on me, so I got there with surprisingly little in the way of traffic delays. As a result, I had a chance to grab breakfast, and walking around near the MIT/Kendall Square station, I happened across The Friendly Toast. The Friendly Toast is a breakfast diner, with locations in Portsmouth, NH (their original location) and Cambridge, MA (Kendall Square, just north of MIT and Draper Labs). I’ve happened across the Portsmouth location several times while visiting there, and it has remained on my chronic “I should try that place out” hit list…

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