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 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.