Tuesday, June 10, 2014

When Pigs Fly~ 460 US Route 1, Kittery, Maine

Building up from the bones of a pizzeria, When Pigs Fly in Kittery, Maine has a new chef who is putting some real heart into the menu. 
Recently When Pigs Fly welcomed the well-known Seacoast chef Rob Martin to take the helm in the kitchen and I have to say, it was a brilliant hire and a great opportunity for Martin. If you haven’t ventured just a little north on Route 1 past all the shopping outlets to visit When Pigs Fly for lunch or dinner, you definitely should add it to your list. When Pigs Fly has a welcoming, large, open concept dining room. Additional seating areas of an enclosed farmer's porch and a back deck are also available, which at max capacity seats 160. It is ideal for date night, an evening out with friends or a meal with the family. The service for the most part on each visit I have made has been great. Only on one visit our server was not “on the ball”, but he explained that he had a panic attack shortly before our seating and typically he was more in sync with his tables (so I am letting that slide, ONCE). On the most recent visit, we had Kevin as our waiter and he was fantastic. I don’t think I had to ask for more water once as he kept a sharp eye on the table with every pass and that’s what I like to have happen. I hate it when you feel like you are bothering her server for water or napkins or anything you might need (and you know it happens out there, I have seen servers roll their eyes).  This restaurant has been best known for their double wood fired pizza ovens cooking up Neapolitan pizzas with some of the freshest toppings on the Seacoast. It IS good pizza and the thin crust allows for the true flavors of the toppings to show themselves which is always a treat.  Allow me however to share with you some of the amazing menu offerings that are appearing now with Chef Martin in the kitchen. For starters, I am a huge fan of the beet salad. It's funny how I refused to eat beets until I was in my mid-twenties. I always thought they tasted like dirt. Not that I ate much dirty, but you get what I am saying. Now I love seeing beet salads on menus and this one is perfectly prepared. The lightness of the beet salad served with spinach, dill, sunflowers seeds and honey vinaigrette is highlighted with Brookfield yogurt ($11). It’s served in a large bowl and you can opt to make it a meal by choosing to add a protein of chicken (+$6) or caramelized steak (+$6). There is quite a selection of snacks, appetizers and meat and cheese plates to nibble on as well. I am obsessed with the staple on the menu of the crispy brussel sprouts served with a ginger sesame sauce ($6). The warm dates with blue cheese and hot honey are also very tasty ($6). If you decided to try any of the meat and cheeses (offered at $5 per selection) you can easily share the board and have as a meal.
When Pigs Fly also offers up some great draft beer choices  AND have “Happy Hour” Monday through Friday from 3pm-6pm of half off select draft wines (yes, I said draft wines) and select beers.
Now, to tempt your taste buds with some amazingly well prepared main dishes! I, as many of you know, am never one NOT to try something new or different. I like going to a restaurant and looking over the menu and having dishes jump out at me that make me think, “I have to try that!” and When Pigs Fly pulls this off with ease! They have a great selection of sandwiches to choose from (go figure with the amazing breads they bake up) including one of my tasty favorites, the meatloaf sandwich (no, this is  NOT your mothers meatloaf) that has grain Dijon, tomato jam, & gruyere cheese served on two large planks of WPF’s sour dough bread ($12). I never can finish a whole sandwich here. Not a bad a thing! The cauliflower mac & cheese has great flavor with orecchiette pasta (aka elephant ears), truffle, cheddar, fried garlic & chives and is perfect for a chilly afternoon or evening ($10). Now for the dish that hits a sweet spot for me BIG TIME because it is simply tastes amazing; the Orange Duck Gnocchi! Wonderfully prepared and presented with confit duck, house made gnocchi (sometimes you can catch the chef walking around covered in flour and know he is back there making the gnocchi), orange jus and topped with seasonal vegetables. The house made gnocchi literally melts in your mouth and the orange jus with the duck is simple divine. A whimsical addition to this plate is a sprinkle of lavender ($14).
The menu is moving in a direction I certainly am going to visit again and again to follow. On my recent visit Chef Martin prepared a perfectly seasoned, “Shut The Front Door” tasting grass fed beef that was lightly basking in truffle aioli and surrounded with local fingerling potatoes. I don’t even think I had to use my steak knife.  

It can be hard to find restaurants to eat at on the Seacoast that not only delight you with the meal options, but also don’t break the bank. The Seacoast is filled with overpriced, average meals. I have often been out to try a new restaurant and have been very disappointed by the food or by the service or a combination of both. When Pigs Fly is an ideal destination restaurant due to location and is not only great for locals, but also can serve up memorable meals for out of state visitors. I don’t hesitate to jump into my car or on a bike and head there for lunch or dinner. I like that feeling of “I can’t wait to get there and see what’s cooking” and KNOW that I won’t be disappointed. I hope you give it try and enjoy your meal as much as I enjoy mine with every visit. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I'mmmmmm baaaaack!

After being on hiatus for far too long and being emailed places to go from readers and questions like "Have YOU stopped eating?" I am happy to say that I will be posting a NEW review in the next few days! I had been wanting to get back to the blog for quite a while, but one thing after another in LIFE kept coming up and having me push it aside. I hope you are looking forward to the next review as I am looking forward to writing it!

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 hot.....do 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.