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Oak and Grain (New London, NH)

In a recent celebration of the 20th anniversary of our first date, Carol and I decided it was a nice opportunity to check out a local restaurant that has been perennially near the top of our hit list: Oak and Grain. Oak and Grain is the in-house restaurant at The Inn at Pleasant Lake, a small lakefront hotel overlooking Pleasant Lake that specializes in weekend getaways and appears to have quite the nice barn rental for weddings as well.

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Campo Enoteca (Manchester, NH)

Like many trips, upon arriving mid-day back in New Hampshire from our trip to Detroit, we used it as an opportunity to stop in Manchester on the way home for a light dinner. Depending on time of day and mood, there are a lot of good options on Manchester’s Elm Street or nearby, including some great authentic Mexican at El Rincon, funky fusion fare at Mint, or, one of my favorites, light bistro fare at Republic. However, I realized it had been a while since I had been to another bistro on Elm, Campo Enoteca.

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Health Check: The Baited Hook (Lebanon, NH)

Since I’ve been running this blog for well over a decade, every once in a while it’s worth revisiting some of my old favorites and see how the places are doing. In this case, an outing with a local Upper Valley Foodie facebook group has us revisiting The Baited Hook, the well-known “clam shack” on the shores of Mascoma Lake in Lebanon, NH (years later, I still get in arguments about this, but The Baited Hook in unarguably still in Lebanon). Indeed, it was way back in 2008 that I originally reviewed them, and there was a lot I liked back then: a nice dining room and outdoor patio overlooking the lake, a decent burger, and a fair selection of fried seafood specials. Nothing fancy, but certainly enjoyable, and popular with the folks living on the lake.

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Lucky’s Coffee Garage (Lebanon, NH)

Back in the summer of 2017, my friend Deb Shinnlinger signed a lease for a recently-closed service station on the green in Lebanon, NH, Roy’s Service Station, with the intent of quickly turning it into a “West-Coast Style Coffee Shop” serving up quality coffee, espresso, and bakery items within a month or two. Well, like a lot of endeavors in food service, the “month or two” turned into several months of drama of permitting and the sort of refurbishment challenges one can expect when turning a tired, old service station into a fresh and welcoming coffee shop, but in December of 2017, Lucky’s Coffee Garage became a reality and opened to the public.

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Little Brother Burgers (New London, NH)

Sometimes it can be nice to break a curse. We all know them, those “cursed” restaurant locations that, for one reason or another, seem to consistently fail to thrive as a restaurant for one restaurateur after another, until finally either a restaurant manages to break the curse, or the building owner gives up and converts the space to something other than a restaurant. Well, recently I was heading back home from SE New Hampshire, and decided to meet Carol for dinner in New London at Little Brother’s Burger Company for dinner. Looking up the address, 420 Main St (an, ahem, memorable address), I immediately recognized it as New London’s cursed spot. In my 18 years living in the region, that same address has had one failed restaurant after another. Most recently, it was Cataleya’s Caribbean Grill. Before that, the Hole in the Fence Cafe. A tavern before that, and several other places that have since faded into memory (Snyder’s Tavern, College Cafe, …). The track record for places opening here is, quite frankly, dismal. But hey, a new owner, some new ideas, maybe something will catch this time?

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Muriel’s Donuts (Lebanon, NH)

Every year for National Donut Day, several of my coworkers celebrate by going out and buying a bunch of donuts for the office. And no, while Dunkin Donuts is damn near ubiquitous around here (and indeed, even gives out free donuts today with a beverage purchase), we drove right by the Dunkin Donuts… we had a much greater destination in mind: Muriel’s Donuts, some of the best donuts to be found for literally hundreds of miles.

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Sunshine Cookshop (Claremont, NH)

A byproduct of several of my projects at work is that we regularly have to visit Lakehurst, NJ. Between schedule and flexibility, we almost always end up driving down there and back with an overnight stay (having tried almost every route between here and there, we’ve got it down to a fairly reliable 5 hour trip each way). We usually carpool, rendezvousing at the Ascutney, VT exit off of I-91, and that’s given me more than a few opportunities to check out a few of Claremont, NH’s more obscure eateries on my home. In this case, my last trip had me arriving in Claremont around dinner time, and that was a great excuse to pay a visit to Sunshine Cookshop, a Jamaican place on South Pleasant Street.

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Wild Willy’s Burgers (Rochester, NH)

As I discussed in the previous review of Hop and Grind, I’ve been rather craving some good burgers recently, and another place that came up as a recommendation (from scooterboy at TCF) was Wild Willy’s, a New England chain with a handful of locations in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. While the original location is in York, Maine (and, unfortunately, is now closed and for sale), their Rochester location was only about a 10 minute detour since I was already in Durham, so I decided to swing by and give them a try.

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Hop & Grind (Durham, NH)

Several of my online friends recently got into a heated discussion about which fast food places have good burgers, and there was a rather heated discussion that followed about whether or not Five Guys is overrated. For the record, I think 5G is overrated, but that’s a topic for another day, but there were two takeaways from the conversation: one being that I now had an immense hankering for a good burger, and the second that I had gotten a refresher on some of the better options for burgers when I was going to be around the NH seacoast this last week judging a FIRST Robotics competition. One of the places that came out of the discussion (and subsequently recommended by another of the robotics judges, Reif as well) was Hop & Grind, a short walk away from the UNH Durham campus. So, after my judging responsibilities were done, I headed over to check out Hop & Grind.

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Pressed Cafe (Nashua, NH)

During my recent stay in Nashua, one morning I found myself with a breakfast craving: I was specifically craving a breakfast burrito. While in many areas of the country this isn’t much of a problem, up here in Northern New England, what few burrito places we have mostly don’t serve breakfast, or serve up some sort of bland imitation of a breakfast burrito with some tired scrambled eggs and maple breakfast sausage. But luckily, a few online searches later, and I discovered that I was right down the street from a small, local chain that among its many breakfast offerings were several decent-sounding burritos: Pressed Cafe.

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