Tag Archives: Upper Valley

Han Fusion (Hanover, NH)

In my 20 years of living in the Upper Valley, 3 Lebanon Street (the “Hanover Park” building) has had a succession of Chinese restaurants in the basement: when we first arrived, it was Panda Garden, and then after that it was Orient, and then in 2019 it changed to Han Fusion. I hadn’t been too much of a fan of either Panda Garden or Orient in general, since they mostly seemed to serve fairly generic Americanized Chinese food, and I originally hadn’t expected Han Fusion to be much better. However, I started to hear some good things about Han Fusion from several people in the Upper Valley who I actually trust with Chinese food (such as Chris Ng, who runs the local Upper Valley Foodie Group), and looking at their menu, found several menu items that I really like (soup dumplings, dry-fried chicken, and rice cakes). We had vowed to finally get out and try them… and then the Pandemic hit.

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Revolutionary Burger Reborn (Lebanon, NH)

(Closed) “Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” – Stephen King If there’s an underlying theme to dining during the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been that there’s generally no such thing as “business as usual”, and pretty much every restaurant has had to adapt, or close. It’s been brutal, with a lot of places closing forever, but during these times, we’ve also seen some encouraging change, like new restaurants opening, and quite a few restaurants getting quite creative to adapt to the current dining “new normal” of primarily takeout food, social distancing, and more stringent health requirements. I’ve seen a lot of really good creative problem solving, especially when it comes to creating outdoor dining space, new ordering methods, new concepts, and even revisiting old concepts. The last of these brings us to Revolutionary Burger in Lebanon, NH.

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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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Funkalicious (White River Junction, VT)

While Covid-19 continues to tally up some casualties on the dining scene, I’m still thrilled when someone is able to reverse the trend with the occasional opening. In this case, over in White River Junction, VT, in an older storefront that last I knew held Kibby Equipment Company (purveyors of fine chainsaws), Kevin Halligan and Dee Sonthikoummane have opened Funkalicious Market and Deli. This wasn’t a sudden opening; I remember seeing an announcement in the Valley News almost a year ago that they were installing countertops and getting ready for opening a market and deli that was focusing on housemade meats and specialty sandwiches, with an opening in February or March. Well, we all know those sorts of plans turned out… but in late October 2020 Funkalicious was finally able to open their doors, primarily offering a butcher counter and a menu of interesting sandwiches showcasing their smoked meats and other prepared deli foods.

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Lalo’s Taqueria (Lebanon, NH)

Well, it’s been pretty quiet here at the blog. My last real restaurant review (of a repeat trip to Pied de Cochon’s Cabane a sucre) was for a visit that happened almost a year ago. Here in NH, March 16th 2020 brought the abrupt closure of restaurants, and now a full six months into Covid, we’re still not back to order. Many places have closed permanently, and with very few exceptions, almost every restaurant still running is, quite frankly, trying to make do with a combination of takeout, outside dining (now on the wane as the temperature drops), and “socially-distanced” dining, and most places are trying more to just stay open than put their best foot forward. I’ve actually got photos and partial reviews for a good dozen places in my backlog, but most of them are now outdated reviews of how things once were, and not how things are, but it seems like a poor time for restaurant reviews in general until things recover a bit more (and nobody wants to read reviews of an experience they can’t currently indulge in). But there have been quite a few bright spots throughout the dismal Covid-19 landscape. I’ve seen more than a few creative approaches for outdoor dining, takeout (including more than a few retrofitted takeout windows), and ways to just keep basic operations going (and staff employed). And in this landscape filled with restaurant closures both temporary and permanent, my local area has even had one notable restaurant opening: Lalo’s Taqueria.

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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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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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Cloudland Farm (North Pomfret, Vermont)

One of the more interesting places I’ve had dinner around the Upper Valley is hiding in the hills north of Woodstock in North Pomfret’s “Cloudland”. If you find yourself driving up that way, it’s really easy to see why the area has its name (something about the valley construction seems particularly adept at forming and holding low-level clouds). But Cloudland is also the home to Cloudland Farm, an over-a-century-old family farm that’s well known for supplying meats at various farmers markets, general stores, and as a purveyor to local restaurants. But they also have a dining room that’s open Thursday-Saturday (plus occasional special events) for dinner, usually with special themes. Previously, I’d been there twice to celebrate birthdays, once on a Brisket Night, and once on a Ramen Night, and being a birthday dinner, taking photos wasn’t my first priority. But for the last few months, our friends Liz and Wesley wanted us to join them for a Burger Night, and in June we were finally in town at the right time to make it happen.

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Phnom Penh Sandwich Station (White River Junction, VT)

Okay, I know that my regular readers are already asking, “Wait… didn’t you already review Phnom Penh?”. The answer is, yes, I did, but that was the review of their Lebanon, NH location, and earlier this year, after a lengthy renovation, Phnom Penh opened up a newer location in White River Junction in the former Polka Dot Restaurant location. Normally, I wouldn’t do a review on a second location of someplace, but with the opening of Phnom Penh’s second brick-and-mortar location, a few changes have happened. First, the new location is primarily dine-in, versus the primarily take-out nature of the Lebanon location. Second, they’ve got a liquor license and a decent selection of wine and beer, with the latter focusing on local breweries (like River Roost, just down the street). Finally, the transition from a “Sandwich Station” to a full dine-in restaurant has allow Sarin Tin, the owner, to add several additional Cambodian dishes to the menu.

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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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