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.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Four Restaurant, Portsmouth, N.H. CLOSED 2013


189 State St

Portsmouth, N.H.

Located on the corner of State St and Penhallow in downtown Portsmouth N.H. is a wonderful little restaurant called Four. Four is French for oven and a well suited name. Open for dinner Monday thru Saturday from 5:30 to close, it is a small yet intimate restaurant that should not be missed! First I will say that if you are planning to visit this hidden jewel, I strongly recommend calling ahead of time and making a reservation. There are a limited number of tables available for seating (about 10 total), a cozy outdoor patio is also available for seating in warmer months as well as a six seat bar area. Co-owner and Chef Simon Lampert prepares some wonderfully, unique dishes using local, fresh ingredients as often as he possibly can. To quote the chef, "Food is the love of my life every single day" and I couldn't agree with him more after an evening of dining at Four and experiencing his talented cooking. On each of my dining experiences the staff has been attentive and friendly and I havent ever felt rushed during my meal. The open window kitchen gives you a view of the wood fired oven and of the talented kitchen staff while they prepare meals.

Four offers 2 menus each evening. One is a unique daily four course Prix Fix tasting menu ($40) and the second is a Steakhouse menu. They bake their own fresh bread in the wood fired oven and serve it with butter and a garlic and olive oil dipping sauce. I have yet to dine from the four course tasting menu but have not been disappointed by what I have enjoyed from the Steakhouse menu. There are several delectable appetizer options to start your meal with and I have enjoyed the Sticky Ribs-Hoisen sauced pork ribs ($9) and will visit again to try the Marrow Bones ($10). Each entree from the Steakhouse menu is served with your choice of 2 side dishes. The 8 oz filet mignon ($29) cooked to your liking is topped with a pat of herbed garlic butter melted in my mouth. I have opted for the house made macaroni and cheese on each of my visits as a side dish after first having it and wishing I could make it at home as well as it is prepared here. On my most recent visit, my other side dish of choice was sauteed patty pan squash. I have also tried their tomato and bacon salad which I was told by my waitress that the bacon is cured in house. It was light and innovative and a perfect accompaniment to any of their entrees. My meal was wonderful and I again was unable to have enough room to try one of their desserts! Two other dishes I must mention here is their 10 oz steak tips soaked in soy honey ($19) that do not disappoint and their amazing, mouth watering bone in 16 oz double pork chop with a maple mustard sauce ($23). Yes, it tastes just as great as you thought it would! Four has created an eco-friendly, calming dining atmosphere that allows the guests to relax and enjoy an excellent meal that definitely has me wanting to go back for more. If you are looking for a unique dining experience I highly recommend calling Four and making a reservation. I know I will be doing so myself again very soon!

Monday, April 25, 2011

5th Annual Portsmouth, NH Cocktail Competition


The much anticipated signature cocktail competition enters its 5th year Sunday June 5th from 4pm-8pm! Multiple downtown restaurants will compete for the title of Best Signature Cocktail of Portsmouth. This years event will feature a cocktail pairing that will highlight both food and drink menus.
What: Complimentary cocktail tasting
When: Sunday June 5th from 4pm-8pm
Where: Multiple downtown Portsmouth restaurants all within walking distance
Why: Spring is the perfect time to explore Portsmouth's burgeoning restaurant scene
Cost: $30 a ticket

The event is a great way to meet new people & try new restaurants as attendees visit each restaurant during the tasting. The even draws a mature crowd of "cocktail hoppers" says event producer Lisa Knight. It's a great networking event and the tickets provide an inexpensive night out on the town. Restaurants that are competing this year include The Dolphin Striker, The River House, Fat Belly's, Rudi's, Hilton Garden Inn, Sake, Sheraton Portsmouth, The Chef's Table and many more! This event is sponsors by Around Town New England Magazine, Horizon Beverage, Southern Wine & Spirits, Taste of the Seacoast Magazine & WXGR 101.5 FM

Tickets in advance are available at
There are LIMITED DISCOUNT TICKETS now available for only $15 each via

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

11 Water Street- Exeter NH
Located right in the heart of downtown Exeter there are a few good places to have a nice lunch or dinner or just enjoy drinks out and I think 11 Water Street is one of them. With views of the river, open for lunch at 11:30 and dinner service from 5:30pm to 9:30 Tuesday thru Sunday, this restaurant offers a wide selection of salads, sandwiches, lighter fare entrees and full entrees. The dinning area is street level and has a limited number of tables so reservations on a weekend evening are definitely recommended. I usually opt to go downstairs to the bar area and try to get a table there which is on a first come first serve basis. If you have to wait a bit, usually a server will come over and you can order a drink while you wait for the next available seat to open up. The Lighter Fare menu has large enough portions that sometimes I will still have a take home box with leftovers. My two favorite appetizers here are the Thai Crab Cakes ($10.00) and the bowl of French Onion Soup ($5). For dinner I really enjoy from the Lighter Fare Menu, the Steak Tips ($12.50) served with basmati rice and asparagus year round and as a good meal on a cold winter evening, the braised short ribs with basmati rice instead of garlic mashed red potatoes and seasonal veggie. 11 Water Street also has one heck of a dessert menu to choose from so save a little room if you can to finish your meal on a sweet note!