Posts Tagged ‘New Hampshire’

Molly’s Restaurant & Bar – Hanover, NH

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 by virginia

Molly’s was always one of my favorite restaurants when I visited Hanover back during my college years. The menu was broad, the prices inexpensive, and the food good. Plus they had the perfect gimmick for college students – $2 margaritas that were strong and tasty. At first, there was usually a weather-related caveat to the margaritas, ie., $2 until the weather went above XX degrees (there are some cold winters up in NH), $2 while there was snow on the ground, etc. Whenever the weather or temperature reached the threshold, the sign would be crossed out and a new bar was set, which basically meant they always had $2 margaritas. Now, returning a decade later, I was happy to see they did away with the caveats and just offer $2 margaritas all the time on the menu.

While I really wanted to get a margarita for old time’s sake, we had done a bit too much pre-wedding partying the night before and were not in any condition to partake; I stuck with water while Josh had iced tea. I dove into the bread basket and was surprised to see that it was the same exact bread that they had always served – a soft peasant-style loaf with shredded cheese baked into the crust. To be perfectly honest, the bread isn’t great. It’s doughy and dense, and even the cheese can’t save the crust. However, it is the perfect vehicle for the honey butter that comes with it, which is airy and sweet.

Bread with honey butter

Bread with honey butter

I used to crave Molly’s artichoke and spinach dip in college, and so of course we had to order it on this visit. This dip was around well before spinach and artichoke dip became popular and started appearing on all chain restaurant menus. It was also always a more elevated version, with large chunks of artichoke hearts and browned, bubbly cheese, and it used to be served with crostini. When I saw that the dip now came with pita chips, I was worried that it had gone the chain restaurant route and would be chips out of a bag alongside overly-processed spinach dip with little cheese and artichoke. Fortunately, I was wrong. These chips were made from real pita bread and were crispy on the outside but still chewy on the inside. The edges of a few pieces got burned, but there were more than enough chips on the plate. The dip itself was just as I remembered, maybe even better. It’s intensely garlicky with a bit of a peppery kick and lots of gooey cheese, and artichoke is definitely the star of the dip. You need a fork to place the pieces on the pita bread, and the spinach mixed into the dip is more of a garnish. That’s why it’s artichoke and spinach dip, and not the other way around.

Artichoke and spinach dip

Artichoke and spinach dip

Josh go the Express Lunch, which I was also happy to see them still offering. It’s a salad and half a pizza for about $10. Josh picked the caesar salad, which has a lemony and garlicky dressing and tasted exactly as we remembered. However, there wasn’t enough dressing on the salad, which made it a bit bland. The shredded parmesan on top helped a little though.

Caesar salad

Caesar salad

For his half pizza, he chose the Summer Salad, which was new to us. It’s a thin crust pizza brushed with garlic butter and baked with prosciutto, tomatoes, and fontina, and topped with arugula after it comes out of the oven. I’m usually not a fan of baked prosciutto on pizza, but this was cut into small pieces and crisped up in the oven rather than getting chewy. It was hard to see the pizza under the huge pile of arugula though, which was not necessarily a bad thing since we both love arugula, especially when it’s dressed with lemon. Plus the salad helped cut through the richness of the fontina and the garlic butter. It was a pretty good pizza, although I was pushing him to order our old favorite instead, the Got Yer Goat, which is pizza topped with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil.

Summer salad pizza

Summer Salad pizza

I was also tempted to try something new from the menu but I went the nostalgic route and ordered my old standby, the chicken avocado sandwich with grilled chicken, bacon, swiss cheese, guacamole, lettuce, and tomato on a brioche roll. I think back then it was served on a roll similar to the bread basket bread but sturdier, and there were slices of avocado rather than guacamole, which made it a messier sandwich. However, I liked this version and found it easy to eat. There’s nothing spectacular about it but the combination is pretty classic and it tastes good. The sandwich comes with fries that are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

Chicken sandwich

Chicken avocado sandwich with fries

Overall we found that there was still lots to love about Molly’s. The food is almost the same as we remembered, but they’ve also made some menu updates and changes. It does have a bit of a chain restaurant feel to it with its primary focus on salads, pizzas, sandwiches, and burgers, but the dishes are more carefully constructed and prepared, taking quality ingredients into account. The booths in the front are great for people watching on Main Street, and there’s plenty of space in the back room for large groups. It’s definitely a great college town restaurant with reasonable prices and good variety. We’ll definitely be going back the next time we’re in town, hopefully within the next decade.

Molly’s Restaurant & Bar
43 South Main St.

Hanover, NH

Brown’s Lobster Pound (Seabrook, NH)

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010 by virginia

The day after our nephew Alexander’s first birthday party in Massachusetts, we had half a day to spend with the family before we had to make the drive back home to NJ. Instead of staying around my sister’s house, we decided to head across the border into New Hampshire and try out the lobster at Brown’s Lobster Pound in Seabrook. According to my sister, this place has been featured on the Travel Channel and is famous for its lobster rolls.

It was about a 45 minute drive but the restaurant is just past the border so it wasn’t bad. We pulled into the packed parking lot and there was a huge line of people waiting at the windows where you can order fried foods.

People lined up to place their orders

Since we were getting lobster, we headed straight inside to place our order. If you’re ordering lobster and fried food, you can order inside where the line was much shorter. However, if you’re only ordering fried food, you have to do it outside. We got a few 1 1/4 lb lobsters, a few lobster rolls, a fried oyster plate for my dad, and a fried chicken plate for Adam, who hates seafood (seriously, what kind of New Englander is he? I guess you can’t expect much from a Red Sox/Patriots fan… haha j/k! Or am I?) We also wanted some steamers, which we had to order from a different counter inside.

The menu behind the lobster tanks

They gave us numbers for our orders, and we settled down at some picnic tables in the corner. The restaurant is pretty big, and even though the parking lot was full there were many picnic tables still available. The restaurant serves soda, coffee, tea, etc., but you can bring your own beer and wine. Most tables had coolers of beer, and one couple behind us was tucking into huge lobsters while drinking champagne from flutes. Pretty neat idea!

Rows of picnic tables

Our orders of steamers came up first, and we eagerly dug into the piles of clams. To eat a steamer, you pull off the skin around the neck, swirl it around in a cup of hot water to clean off any grit, dip it in melted butter, and eat.

Piles of steamers

These steamers were fresh and briney, with a pleasing texture that wasn’t too chewy. We swirled, dipped, and ate them until the rest of our food was ready.

Swirling a steamer in hot water

I opted for a lobster roll instead of a whole steamed lobster. Although value-wise whole lobsters are a better deal (they were about $12/lb while one lobster roll was $12), I wasn’t in the mood to get all messy. The lobster rolls weren’t huge, but they weren’t tiny either. There were big chunks of meat, and just enough mayo to keep everything moist and together but not overpowering. The bun was the New England style top loading hot dog bun that I love, and the outside was buttered and toasted so that it was slightly crisp but still delightfully chewy. It was only the second lobster roll that I’ve had in my life, and it was pretty good.

Lobster roll

Josh opted for a whole lobster, which was just steamed and came with melted butter on the side for dipping. It was approximately 1 1/4 lbs, and the meat was sweet and fresh.

Steamed lobster

Some of the lobsters had roe and tomalley, which my mom and I both love. They have a complex flavor that turn a lot of people off so I guess it’s an acquired taste, but we consider finding roe to be like hitting the jackpot.

Lobster roe and tomalley

Josh and I also split a cup of New England clam chowder. The chowder had great flavor and lots of clams but it was surprisingly thin. When I think of New England style chowder, I think of thick, velvety, rich soup. This soup had buttery and creamy flavor, but it was watery in texture. I didn’t really mind because it was a hot summer day, but if it were wintertime, I prefer something with more body to it so that it sticks to your ribs.

New England clam chowder

My dad isn’t as into lobster so he opted for a fried oyster plate. The oysters were decently big but they weren’t as briney in flavor as I would have liked. They were also pretty heavily breaded, and while the coating was nicely fried and crunchy, it kind of made the oysters feel overly dry in my mouth. We dipped them in lots of tasty tartar sauce but I felt like that defeated the whole purpose of having oysters. We could have dipped anything into the sauce and it would have been the same. At least the fries were good.

Fried oysters and french fries

Overall I liked Brown’s Lobster Pound but I think the appeal is the kitschiness of the atmosphere. You’re basically eating in an oversized shack, and the food is simple, hearty, and straightforward. Price-wise it’s probably comparable to other similar seafood joints, but if you’re going just for steamed lobster then it’s overpriced. Lobster at the supermarket is definitely cheaper than $12/lb (we actually stopped somewhere on the way back to my sister’s house to buy lobsters that were only $3.99/lb). Lobster rolls, however, cost $15 and up in NYC, so $12 is a relative bargain. If I lived nearby this probably wouldn’t be a place we would go to regularly, but as a tourist, I thoroughly enjoyed it. While the oysters weren’t great, the steamers and lobsters were very good, and it was a fun experience. The BYO aspect is also another huge plus.

Brown’s Lobster Pound
407 NH Highway 286
Seabrook, NH