Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wild Willy's Burgers York, ME

Although the burgers here are really good, I don't recommend you visiting the original location of Wild Willy's in York, Maine. The burger toppings are not fresh, the salsa on their "La Bamba" burger tasted like a cheap store bought kind, the ranch dressing on the "Santa Fe" could stand improvement and the cost of their Frontier draft root beer by the cup is a rip off. The other locations in Mass and NH are franchised out, so they might have something better to offer. The staff (including the founders son who managers this location) are NOT friendly at all and I don't think in the entire 2+ hours we were there did I see a smile come across any of their faces. It's too bad, the concept is great, but if you don't have that all important ingredient of a friendly, outgoing staff, you just aren't going to be as good as you could be. The summer brings tons of tourists into this location and my guess is they do a killer business especially since it is CASH ONLY. It's seasonal and shuts down right around when then snow really starts to fly. The small location has a fun atmosphere, but when it is busy, you are pushed and pulled while you wait for your meal and it just isn't comfortable. They keep the menu simple with burgers and fresh cut fries as their top sellers. I wish it was better, but it isn't.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hagan's Grill- Hampton, NH


(603) 926-5668

Located in the heart of downtown Hampton is a gem of a restaurant. Hagan's Grill originally opened in the summer of 2005 and was purchased by Bob and Dora Hand in Spring of 2006. The seating is limited so if you plan on visiting, I highly recommend you call ahead and make a reservation or hope to score a seat at the bar while you wait for a table. Known for its eclectic American/Asian cuisine, Hagan's Grill is a favorite of the locals and the summer beach bums. The ingredients are fresh and meal ideas simple. You will find some great nightly specials ranging from pasta to fish to a pizza made on their own wood grill. I kicked off my dinner with a Key Lime Martini ($9) and for an appetizer, I tried the pita nachos ($10) which are a nice change of pace and very flavorful. For dinner I had a penne pasta special ($16) that had ground pork in a tomato leek cream sauce with a blend of cheese that was excellent! I switched half way through with one of my dinning partners who was having the famous Fish Burrito ($15). The executive chef, Kurt Holzweiss has been cooking things up in the kitchen for the past 2 1/2 years and has grown quite a following with the locals. I hear they have a local following for the baked mac and cheese ($9) which I plan on trying at my next visit. The atmosphere is contemporary in design, but the dress and vibe are casual and fun. It can get noisy in there, which is a clear sign of a good restaurant where people go and enjoy themselves. I was happy to see the addition of lighter fare options (which I don't recall seeing over the winter). My only gripe with my most recent dining experience at Hagan's Grill would be the service wasn't as good as I would expect it to be. I was seated at a high table in the bar area and at first the bartender who was our server was fine, but as soon as the bar got busy, we were ignored and ended up having to hunt her down to pay the bill and to get a box for the leftovers. Guess you can't win them all. I still say if you haven't checked this little hot spot out, the food is definitely worth a visit.

Friday, August 8, 2008

THe Old Salt, Rt. 1, Hampton NH

As a request by my friend Kristin (a Hampton local), I need to include in this BLOG the local staple on the seacoast of The Old Salt at Lammes Inn in Hampton NH. Originally a hot spot right on the beach in Hampton, the Old Salt burned down and the owners purchased the Lammes Inn and moved their restaurant to the current Rt. 1 location. They are very well known for their down home Sunday brunch complete with chocolate fountain (kids and adults alike love it!)! The food isn't anything to knock your socks off, but it is consistently good. I do have a soft spot for their Fish and Chips and on occasion can be found in their lounge (which reminds me of a bomb shelter and I am not alone in this thought) sharing some appetizers and drinking $4.00 Margaritas on Thursdays or $5 Martinis on Wednesday nights. The atmosphere is good year round. The main dining area has a huge stone fireplace that lights up in the Fall and burns clear through the Winter making it very cozy even during the off season.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Telly's Restaurant and Pizzeria-Epping NH

For those of you that didn't know, Telly's had a bad fire a few years back and it was destroyed. They rebuilt the restaurant and made it bigger and better this time around. I'm actually really glad they didn't give up. Sometimes, when we get knocked down, we have to pick ourselves up and keep going. This review takes place on last Saturday evening at 5:15pm. Yes, it was early for dinner, but I was out with my parents who often like to beat the crowds out at restaurants on the weekends. This did not happen. Although we were able to slip right into a booth, there was only one other table available, it was a full house on the tables and at the bar. This is a great sign of a restaurant in times like these with the economy being not so hot. They offer reasonably priced menu choices so families are plentiful here on the weekends. Telly's is first and foremost known for their brick oven pizza which I find refreshing and reasonably priced. You can easily share and be full by having a small pizza for two people if you order a side salad too. On this night, I was pleasantly surprised to find Orange Roughy on the Specials menu. I have been keeping an eye out for this fish on menus all over the seacoast lately since I have never tried it, but have heard great things. The Orange Roughy ($17.95) was served topped with a lemon butter cream sauce on a bed of jasmine rice and a side of asparagus. The lemon butter cream sauce was just enough so as to not take away from the fish, but to accompany it. The jasmine rice was perfect for this light white fish and it was prepared in coconut milk with salt, pepper and butter. I am very pleasantly surprised with this talented chef at Telly's and they have me wanting more. I opted for a glass of one of my favorite red wines (that's right, RED with FISH) which was a glass of Black Opal Shiraz ($5.75). The dessert was split between my parents and myself and is a house specialty. It is a HUGE piece of Bread Puddin' ($4.99) that is a delicate, moist croissant concoction laced with cinnamon'd bites of apple and raisins (this is exactly how they describe it, why mess with perfection I say!). If again you found yourself wandering out of the downtown Portsmouth area, take a hop, skip and a jump down 101 and try Telly's. I think you will enjoy it!