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Maine and New Hampshire holiday


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I read this thread last week before going to Portland (wife was playing chamber festival). Thanks Steve for the Hugo's rec. Enjoyed Fore Street last year, but this time we opted for Hugo's. Very nice place (apparently new owner/chef over last year or so), far quieter than Fore Street. Nice prix-fixe where you get 2 starters and one main dish. Started with a complimentary Vichyssoise with porcini oil and crème fraîche. Then I ordered the "Brûlées" of foie gras - foie gras stacked on brioche with glazed peached and Sabayon made w/100 yr old Sherry Vinegar, followed by Fluke 2 ways (Tartar w/Avocado, plus Sashimi with a kind of ponzu/spicy sesame oil combo, with fresh figs). Betsy got the Duck sampler (breast, pâté, and some papaya) and Lobster Ravioli with peeky-toe crab in a citrusy sauce, with goat cheese and green apple (the apple and cheese in the warm sauce was almost like a savory version of apple pie with ice cream). All very good.

Nice list. I got 375s of the 1999 Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile Riesling and the 1996 Meyney. For main courses I had the Poached Beef Tenderloin with a demi-glace, stuffed cherry peppers; Betsy the Panko-crusted Skate with celery hearts salad. Everything was well-prepared, though I'm not sure this preparation shows off skate as well as say a more traditional black butter.

For dessert she ordered Berries with Champagne Saboyon, I got a nice cheese plate -Shelbourne Farms cloth aged Cheddar (with apple chutney),. Vt. Shepherds Timson (tomato chutney), Vermont's Shepherds (champagne grapes), and Westfield Farms Blue Bonnet with fig. Enjoyed with last sips of CFE and Meyney, along with a glass of 1986 Niepoort Colheita

Lots of good values on wine list (considering limitations of Maine- apparently 6 distributors for entire state). Nice service, very good food, nice atmosphere.

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Will you be coming out on the western side of the white mountains? Our son goes to camp not too far from Hanover (Dartmouth) and we've had very good meals at Simon Pearce in Queechee and the Perfect Pear, perhars 10-15 miles North (I'm blanking on the name of the town at the moment).

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Getting to the Hanover area from the White Mountains area could not possibly be any less convenient.  I would not recommend attempting this in a short vacation during foliage season.

Been awhile, but as I remember you could head west and then go down-river on I-91 until you get to Norwich (VT). Then hang a left back across the river and you're in Hanover.

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Once you get north of Manchester and Baldwin's on Elm, the food in NH is what you'd expect anywhere USA--the fancy places serve veal with crabmeat smothered in cream sauce, the cheap places serve fried food. You will get LOTS of it though; servings are huge. The Kancamangus Hwy is nice, but go to Crawford Notch--much more beautiful.

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"THE BEST RESTO in Maine is ARROWS in Ogunquit. They grow all their vegetables and herbs and you can walk around to see this before dinner. Reservations a must.

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly....MFK Fisher

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Oh WHS - I beg to differ! Too many peopel think that civilization ends at Manchester. As was previously mentioned there are some wonderful restaurants in the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee area!

Actually, Simon Pearce is in VT I believe, but food and service is excellent, on a par with any city restaurant. They also have hand blown glassworks there - beautiful.

In NH more towards Lake Sunapee LaMerridianna (sp?) is a fine Italian restaurant run by Pierro, a chef from Italy. Ambiance is unassuming, but food makes up for it. Service sometimes lacks a little. It's on rte 11 in Wilmot.

In New London about 20 min. east of Hanover is Millstone, well worth a stop. Beautifully done decor and gardens, fine wines and fantastic menu. Always run by CIA trained chefs.

Have to agree with Chefette that it is a bit of a drive from White Mts., but much less touristy. More bed/breakfasts and Inns, fewer motels, hardly any franchise type places. Dartmouth College is in Hanover.

Happy traveling. :smile:

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NHCountry Girl, I agree that Simon Pearce is great, but it, and the other places you mention, aren't in the White Mountains...if I were visiting NH to see fall foliage & beautiful scenery, I'd take your suggestion and visit the Connecticut Valley or the Monadnock region. The Birchwood Inn in Temple serves delicious and interesting food, and is in an unspoiled, authentic area. I'd stop in Walpole and have hot chocolate at the original Burdick's--the people who supply chocolates to Bouley in NY. Also, I've heard good things about an Italian restaurant in Keene--is it Nicola's?

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My semi anonimity here allows me to confess that in more than twenty years of living in NH I've never been to Keene. Never really had any desire or reason to head that way.

I've been to the White Mountains just a few times. The Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee area is so beautiful there's not much reason to go elsewhere. (Told you I'm a country girl!)

When I do travel in NH it's usually south for business purposes or to get to Boston. For personal pleasure I'm more apt to travel to Maine - York Beach, or the wilderness way up north of Bangor.

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  • 3 weeks later...

First, I have to second the comments on Hugo's. I am in Portland a lot on business, and this is the highlight of those trips. The restaurant is lovely--quiet, comfortably elegant. They haven't tried to cram in too many tables (though the space is not very large). The staff is attentive and knowledgeable.

The prix fixe is an adventure. The first time I ate there, my husband and I went with another couple and worked it out so that we ate almost everything on the menu. It was like Christmas--each plate was another little present. Delightful!

The bar menu is an unbelievably great deal. You can spend just as much in one of the tourist traps or mall-area chain restaurants, for food that's boring, overprocessed, salty-greasy garbage. And the food is fantastic. Wine list is very good, with some nice wines available by the glass. Chris, the bartender, is great.

I ate there earlier this week: had the pork belly (believe me, you need to try it. . . my vegetarian friend breaks her rules for this dish alone!), which was made this time with a green-tomato relish and sherry vinaigrette; and "Blueberries Two Ways": blueberry/star anise/port sorbet and buttermilk/blueberry panna cotta; and a glass of nice pinot noir for $25 (before tip). You also can't miss with the crispy-skin sea bass, the char, or the mussels.

And yeah, Keller's influence is there. (The chef, Rob Evans, is actually off doing a stage at the moment with Grant Achatz, another French Laundry alum, at Trio). The similarity to the French Laundry is not only in the excellence of the food and service, the use of local in-season foods, but also in the chef's wit. This probably sounds weird, but I would say it's "quietly fun" to eat there. Enjoy!

Another very good place, not so high on the tourist list (because it's out of the way), is the Saltwater Grille, in South Portland. http://www.saltwatergrille.com/

For your lobster roll, especially if the weather is nice, head out to the Lobster Shack on Cape Elizabeth: http://lobstershack-twolights.com/



"They eat the dainty food of famous chefs with the same pleasure with which they devour gross peasant dishes, mostly composed of garlic and tomatoes, or fisherman's octopus and shrimps, fried in heavily scented olive oil on a little deserted beach."-- Luigi Barzini, The Italians

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thank you everyone for all your suggestions. We ate very well during our trip, here are the specifics:


Hugo's : The food was good but not spectacular though the price was very reasonable. However, I found the service staff too aloof and even patronising. Not at all friendly as expected. Felt uncomfortable enough to leave without ordering dessert. We also had reservations at Fore Street but was too tired to drive up from Kennebunkport for it.

I base my comparison to some of the other places that I have eaten that week before arriving in Portland, i.e. Gary Danko at SF and Fork at Philadelphia. BTW, I like Fork very much.

Gilbert Chowder House: Lobster roll was good but clam chowder seemed to have too much filler like potato

Becky's Diner: Great breakfast option.

The Portland Public Market was fun, and a good introduction to Stonewall Kitchen products.


Enjoyed the excellent lobster roll and clam chowder at Allisons. Enjoyed even more our huge succulent lobsters at Nunan's The Lonster Hut at Cape Porpoise. And because we were lodging at The Green Heron Inn, we breakfasted like kings.

New Hampshire

Yes, we ate at the Yankee Smokehouse at the junction of Rt 16 and Rt 25. The ribs were yummy.

One of our favourite meals was lunch at The Creamery restaurant run by the Canterbury Shaker Village. My lunch of root beer, smoked ham and baked beans were all made on the premises. The communal table was fun too, as most of the other diners were tourists happy to share their holiday adventures.

The organic pizzas at Flatbread were light and extemely tasty. Good to have every day, wish i did not have to trek to the mountains just to find it, though i notice there is also an outlet in Portland, Maine.

Tasted the best chilli I've ever had (based on previous chilli experience in UK, not US) at Chequer's Villa, Tamworth.

At Bethlehem we had a quiet dinner at Tim-Bir Alley which is located inside the Adain Country Inn. Fine cooking and very fresh ingredients but I was not enthusiastic about the way the chef seemed to like spicing his food- I ordered the seared tuna because I was not keen on curry-dusted pork chop, only to find my tuna was also rubbed with a spicy marinade beforehand. But it was OK, as I was already full from my excellent appetiser of grilled eggplant and goat cheese and the (complimentary) well dressed mesclun salad.

We had a change of plans and ventured west to VT, exploring maple factory at St Johnsbury, the Cabot Creamery (they make very good cheddar, my favourite being their Private Stock) and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory. Lunched at Mist Grill at Waterbury; the flatbread was mighty tasty too.

My major regret was not making it to Polly's Pancake Parlour before it shuts at 3 pm. I was in maple syrup territory and was dying for a good waffle to soak it in, and it was so hard to find a place that serves any at all. pancakes yes, waffles, a big no. oh well, just have to buy a waffle iron and start making them myself.

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Thanks for the update tonkichi,

Too bad you were too tired for Fore Street. You would have liked it a lot.

I've never had the clam chowder at Gilbert's, but keep in mind that the traditional preparation of this does include potatos, unlike, say, an oyster stew which has nothing to get in the way of the milky buttery broth and the oysters.

If you are ever back in the area, please give Michaela's in Portland a try. I can't say enough good things about this place...AND it is decidely non-snooty.

Glad you had a good time.

"Democracy is that system of government under which the people…pick out a Coolidge to be head of the State. It is as if a hungry man, set before a banquet prepared by master cooks and covering a table an acre in area, should turn his back upon the feast and stay his stomach by catching and eating flies." H. L. Mencken

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  • 10 months later...

I just returned from a lovely week in the White Mountains! We took the cog railroad to the top of Mount Washington and hiked through Flume Gorge.

Since we were based in Bethlehem we tried two restaurants that I thoroughly enjoyed! Cold Mountain on route 302 in Bethlehem was inexpensive and delicious! My salmon was fresh, cooked to perfection and seasoned with a delicious tamari glaze. It was only $12.95....easily a $26 entree back in New York! The lentil soup and mocha cake were also DEE-licious!!!

We also enjoy Tim-Ber Alley in the Adair Inn in Bethlehem. My pork tenderloin was nicely seasoned, moist and tender. The mesclun salad was nicely dressed and included with the entree. This is definitely a spot for fine dining!

Although I did not eat there myself, I heard that Grand Depot in Littleton is also very good. Maybe next time.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I will surely return to the White Mountains region again!


Lover of Broadway, beaches and chocolate.

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