Thursday, January 10, 2013

Popper's At The Mill, Newmarket, N.H.- CLOSED 3.25.14
55 Main St
Newmarket, N.H. 03857

I am sad to report that Popper's at the Mill had to close it's doors this week. Sometimes, good things have to end too soon. 

"Tasting Is Believing"
I have fallen in love with Popper's At The Mill in downtown Newmarket, N.H.. When I am planning an evening out for dinner and I have friends that are up for either trying Popper's At The Mill for the first time along with me or just want to go back for another meal, I have to admit, I get excited. Local charcuterie and sausage artisan John "Popper" Medlin opened the doors to Popper's back in June of 2012. I didn't make it in for my first visit until September and after having dinner there I kept thinking I was missing out on this all summer! Popper's At The Mill is not your typical seacoast restaurant. In fact, I can't think of anywhere else I have dined that I could possibly compare it to, which adds to the appeal for me. Another huge benefit to enjoying dinner here often is they support the local farms, from the cheeses to the meats, they source as much as they can locally. I think that is very important for an independent restaurant to do and I am very happy that Popper's At The Mill is doing their part. 
The menu here is very unique for the area (although he does make a mean Huis Burger and Pop Dog). I could go on and on here about the background of how the restaurant came about and how John Medlin is an old world style sausage maker and what he did before he opened the doors to this restaurant, but instead what I want to do is just tell you to GO TRY IT. If you are a little adventurous with your dining, if you like to take a break from the humdrum restaurant options and you like that where you dine you would supporting the local farms and you love the idea of charcuterie or homemade sausages, I ask you to try Popper's At The Mill and let me know what you think of it yourself. My friends tell me I have become obsessed with the place, but is obsessing over a restaurant like this such a bad thing? I don't think. The satisfaction I feel after a meal there tells me it is not a bad thing either. hahaha
Here are a few of my favorite dishes, oh and just so you know, they did recently add a few entree dishes onto the regular menu which as I understand will be rotated, but still great to have a few large plate options available on a regular basis. Back to a few of my favorite dishes- from the charcuterie selections, the Duck Pastrami (a 3 oz portion $5) hands down is my favorite. I had never had it before Popper's At The Mill and I really enjoy the flavor of it and sharing it with my friends. I think it is wonderful! It was served with homemade Anadama bread slices, a Smuttynose Porter mustard sauce and pickled summer squash and zucchini (which they also pickle themselves) The have several options that are on the menu for the charcuterie selections and also offer a few special ones nightly. I had an amazing pork pate during one of my first visits that was wrapped in bacon and made with pumpkin and sundried tomato. It was sweet, buttery and salty all at the same time and tasted like Fall. It made me happy. The Huis Burger ($9) served with Onion Marmalade, Bacon Jam, Red Dragon Cheddar on a Martins Bakery potato bun is mouthwatering (I will say I did have a friend that went recently and had the burger and for one reason or another it didn't taste like it usually did, not as good he said. He didn't mention it to the server and I wasn't with him so I don't know what happened that night) and it is served with house made frites. I love those too, they are cooked in lard and seriously are delish! 
It offers an amazing cheese selection. I love cheeses, everyone that knows me knows this fact, I love cheese like a fat kid loves cake. I love cheese like my friends Juno and Chris love bread. Any of the cheese plates ordered have been wonderful. From the Sandwich Creamery Brie ($9) to the Honey Bee Goat ($9), served in 3 oz portions with accoutrements, I sure do look happy as I dine at Popper's. Did I mention the menu here starts with desserts? It does and it says very plainly and very honestly at the beginning of the menu, "because dessert should always be your first decision". How could you disagree?
The restaurant is not very large which I like and it does have a great atmosphere and bar seating as well. I recommend the Poppers Punch ($8). It's rummy and delightful.  
There is one person I would like to mention in my blog that works at Popper's At The Mill that time and time again when I have been, stands out from every other employee. Her name is Abby. She is a hostess. She is the best hostess I have ever met at any restaurant on the seacoast. She loves her job and loves the food that Popper's offers and it shows. If you want a tour through the cases of the charcuterie displayed as you enter the restaurant, she is your girl to ask. Abby, if you ever read this, know you are exceptional at what you do and your enthusiasm that shines through when you speak of the food offered, is contagious.
I end this review challenging you to challenge your taste buds, to step outside of the box, to try something new and you never know, you might become obsessed with it as I have. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Savory Square Bistro- Hampton, N.H.

Chez Boucher
32 Depot Square
Hampton, N.H.

I have found an excellent hidden gem right in downtown Hampton, N.H.! Founded by Executive Chef Ron Boucher, C.E.C., A.A.C., Savory Square Bistro is the restaurant he has opened located at his Culinary Arts Training Center. Savory Square Bistro is open Wednesday through Saturday 4:30-10:00pm as well as on Sunday 10:00am to 4:00pm. You have the option of dining on the classically decorated and inviting dining room side or the comfortable and more casual lounge/bar side of the Savory Square Bistro. I have dined here several times recently and have brought different dining companions with me so that I can get other opinions on the food, the service and the atmosphere. I haven't left Savory Square Bistro dissatisfied after a meal yet! The friendliness of the staff in a restaurant is always a big factor with me. I can love the food of a restaurant and crave it, but I won't support a restaurant that leaves me feeling that as a patron, I didn't matter. That is a feeling that is completely in the hands of the staff and so far, the people that Chef Boucher has working at the Savory Square Bistro is great and I hope they continue the good work. I have to say, this restaurant is one of the few that I have been to that actually "takes me away". You know that feeling that you seek when dining sometimes, that you just want to be taken away from your humdrum everyday life and enjoy a really good meal with friends or loved ones? Savory Square Bistro has been able to accomplish this for me. I walk through the front door and I don't feel that I am in downtown Hampton, N.H. anymore at all. It's a rare find for the Seacoast area. I can count on one hand how many restaurants can make me feel as if I am escaping for a few hours while I visit. 
My favorite appetizer is the Baked Oysters Rockefeller Gratinee ($9.99)- fresh oysters baked with a pernod, cheese & spinach stuffing. This appetizer can be easily shared as it includes four large stuffed, mouthwatering oysters. From the Lighter Fare menu, I have tasted the Grilled Flat Iron Steak Sandwich ($11.99)-served on an open grilled baguette, topped with a savory wild mushroom gravy & homemade bistro fries. This sandwich is very filling and the mushroom gravy adds great flavoring to the sliced steak. I found the seasoning added to the fries was way too salty. I have to remember next time I order any of the Lighter Fare sandwiches to ask that the fries be served unseasoned.
 An entree that I hope transfers to his next menu (as they will be changed seasonally) is the Pan Fried Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi ($22.50)-Finished with a dark rum orange-mango glaze, served with peach chutney rice & a seasonal vegetable medley. The fish has been perfectly cooked each time I have ordered the dish and the blend of the Macadamia nut crust with the dark rum orange-mango glaze had me returning to Savory Square Bistro within a week to have this Mahi Mahi dish again. A dining companion one evening at the restaurant had the Norwegian Pasta ($18.50)-House cured salmon with tomatoes, black olives, scallions & capers with fresh egg fettuccine & tossed in a light vodka lemon cream. Although she said was very filling and worthy of ordering, it is (as she expected) a bit on the salty side.
 I can not end the review without mentioning the desserts! All desserts are $7.00. My favorite dessert currently available on the menu is the Poached Pear with Chocolate Truffles with Gorgonzola cheese and is served with a small glass of Port wine. The pairing of the pear, chocolate, cheese and Port wine is divine! The Port really helps intensify the flavors in your mouth of the fruit, cheese & chocolate. I have also ordered the Salted Caramel-Chocolate Pot de Creme with whipped maple cream & toasted tuile, but I found the flavors of the ingredients to be muted where I was expecting more richness.
If you are seeking that same "take you away" feeling from an enjoying dining experience on the Seacoast of N.H., I highly recommend you try Savory Square Bistro and let me know what you have and how your dining experience goes! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


801 Islington St., Portsmouth, NH 03801

The decor of STREET is pretty hip and sends out a really comfortable and relaxing vibe. That is where the GOOD part of my review ends. Unfortunately, STREET is just not going to cut it with such a plethora of other restaurants in the Portsmouth area with better food for your money and friendlier staff. I won't be visiting this restaurant again and neither will my friends who have dined there. During my last visit to STREET- at first the service was prompt and courteous, but that didn't last long enough for us to even get our order in without waiting 20 minutes after we were served our drinks to catch her for our food order. We shared the Yuca Fries ($8)-A South American staple and possibly the best starch you've never had. Served with Peruvian lime dip sauce from the "Smaller Things" portion of the menu and although they were tasty, $8 for an order of fries had me wondering if they were really that worth it. One of my friends ordered the Thai Spare Ribs ($9.50). Although they cook you up a large bowl of them, they are hardly edible unless you enjoy fat more than meat on your ribs. My other friend ordered the Dumpling Soup-Pork dumplings bobbing about in homemade chicken stock w/ fresh spinach, carrot, mushroom and scallion ($12) and I ordered the Pho Bo-Vien ($14)-Rice noodle soup made with beef, Vietnamese meatballs, Thai basil, lime, bean sprouts and hot peppers served on the side so that you can add to your liking. Sure the set up is cool right? Unfortunately both our soups were also COOL to temperature. After waiting 40 minutes from when we ordered to when the soups arrived at our table we were starving. The soups were cooler than room temperature. No joke. When I informed our waitress that the soups were cold she said, "really, they should be scalding you want me to return them to the kitchen?" I let her know that wouldn't do as we were already really pressed for time at this point and what we don't eat, I guess we will just have to take home. She walked away. When she next arrived (and No, she never came back to check on our meals again while we were there) with the check (not asking us if we wanted desserts either-no upselling going on here folks) she said sorry for the cold soups and that she checked with other tables and their soups weren't cold (so what did that mean we were lying?) and that she discounted them for us and would gladly put them in take out containers for us to leave with. She discounted each soup $2. We needed change to pay cash on the bill and when she returned my friend let her know that the $2 discount what less than acceptable. She said, "What do you mean? I am the manager and that is the maximum I am allowed to discount any bill." When we told her that there are plenty of other restaurants for us to spend our money at that treat customers better when things go wrong with the meals coming out of the kitchen, she just stared at us blankly. That was it for us and that is it for my friends or myself spending any more of our hard earned money at STREET. I do not recommend anyone being temped by the International appeal that STREET is offering out. We left the take home containers on the table and left without looking back.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ithaki Mediterranean Cuisine

25 Hammatt St

Ipswich, Ma

Owner Petros Markopoulos has created a truly delicious and relaxing dining destination in the quaint New England town of Ipswich, Ma with his Greek & Mediterranean restaurant Ithaki. The decor and ambiance of the newly renovated Ithaki restaurant is calming with its soft, cool colors and warm lighting. The dining area is spacious yet gives you a feeling of an intimate dining experience and Ithaki also has a wonderful lounge side with a large bar wrapping around the room and tables scattered within. I happened to dine last at Ithaki on a Thursday evening when there was a jazz performer and it really set a relaxing tone as I dined with friends.

Finding an authentic Greek & Mediterranean restaurant north of Boston, MA is not easy, but I have to say, I no longer have to look elsewhere as Ithaki has it covered.

The Marinated Olives ($7) are delicious, The Bread Spreads ($7 each or a taste of 4 spreads for $15) of Tzatziki, Taramosalata, Tirokafteri & Hummus served with warm pita chips are a wonderful start to a meal here at Ithaki. The Spreads are fresh and full of flavors. I have sampled the weekly special Appetizer offering of Hortopita ($12) which was a light phyllo pocket stuffed with greens and served with sliced grilled Loukaniko and a Feta cream sauce. It was the first time I have had Loukaniko (sausage) and it was porky goodness! I hope to catch it again on Ithaki's weekly specials menu. The Bar Menu at Ithaki has the Short Rib Appetizer ($11) is cooked so perfectly, the rib meat almost melts in your mouth. The Mousakas ($19) served in a large crock boasts the expected rich Mediteranean flavors of cinnamon and herbs blended in with beef, potato, eggplant, zucchini and topped with a Bechamel. Mousakas to me when dining at a Greek restaurant is often a must, but don't let that sway you from trying what clearly is a Ithaki customer favorite, the Clams ($22)-House made Fettuccine piled high in a large bowl with native clams, white wine, garlic and chili flakes. I cannot wait for a cold winter night where I will happily indulge myself with this dish! I finish my meal at Ithaki with Pistachio Baklava ($8)-small, light, delicate rolls of baklava laced with pistachios and served with a side of Pistachio ice cream. A wonderful dessert to finish with any meal offered at Ithaki.

The serving staff at Ithaki upon my visits have been knowledgeable, friendly and prompt and always willing to make recommendations to you of favorite dishes or a wine from the rather extensive and well rounded wine list. I definitely feel that Ithaki is THE BEST Greek & Mediterranean restaurant I have found in a long while and fit for a Foodie. I look forward to bringing more friends to dine with me at Ithaki that haven't tried a truly great Mediterranean meal. I just love it when you find a restaurant that whether you desire to dress up or go casual to you know you are going to have a great time, great food and leave happy and full. It's always exciting!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How's Your Onion- Derry, N.H

91 West Broadway, Derry NH

Marc Damien Hartley is the chef and owner of this unique little restaurant located right on West Broadway in Derry NH. The atmosphere is warm and relaxing, the staff friendly and the food was served promptly upon my visit. How's Your Onion is the kind of restaurant that I can see many visitors becoming regular diners.

I have visited only for breakfast after hearing quite a bit about how good the food was here and I am a sucker for a good breakfast! Open Monday -Thursday 5am-2pm, Friday and Saturday 5am-9pm (Friday and Saturday they are open for dinner) and Sunday 6am-2pm How's Your Onion is a relatively new restaurant and is serving up some really unique and tasty dishes.

I enjoyed the Shirred Baked Egg Nest ($6.99)- 2 eggs, home fries, chopped onion and bacon baked and topped with Parmesan cheese served with a side of toast. It was a nice change from customary breakfast offerings and I really enjoyed the flavors! I tried a side of the Spiked Potatoes (3 for $2.99/6 for $5.79)-Combo of mashed potatoes, bacon, cheese and peppers rolled in beer batter, smothered in BBQ chips, fried & served with a creamy bacon ranch dressing. Big flavors in small packages! My breakfast partner, who is a regular at How's Your Onion, enjoyed the Sandra Special ($5.29)-Eggs cooked in the center of sourdough bread served with corned-beef hash that he had the chef mix spinach and mushrooms into and he loved it! The menu has a large selection of both breakfast and lunch options and I must make a point to visit again soon on a Friday or Saturday night to dine from the dinner menu.

Have you even been to a restaurant and you just feel like it's family cooking for you? That is the vibe I had while enjoying my breakfast at How's Your Onion. It's a restaurant that you just know has a lot of heart in it and that makes a big difference in the food that anyone who visits has the chance to try. How's Your Onion is approaching its 1 year anniversary in September and I hope that it continues to grow in popularity and that Marc along with his staff, continues to cook and serve the guests of How's Your Onion with the uniqueness and love of food that started it all.