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Sep 23, 2000 09:43 PM

Best food all over New England?

  • j

Short version:
I want your favorite casual restaurants (from diner to 5 star) in New England (but not Boston).

Long version:
My husband and I will be travelling all over New England in Mid-November for almost 2 weeks. I'm doing most of the very detailed [She means anal! - her husband] Hey! Um, most of the planning, including possible food stops. We do not have a planned itinerary, though we do plan to hit all 6 New England states. We're skipping Boston since we're sticking to smaller places we don't know and Boston is familiar to us. We're not snobs; we'll try any decent place from diners to 5 star restaurants. I'm the adventurous foodie - I love trying new cuisines and new meats. My husband is more of a classic meat and potatoes, white bread kinda guy, though I'm working on him. We're both allergic to shellfish, though I can eat (and do eat, and love)fish. He likes his fish finely chopped and from a can. :) More than one or two $100+ dinners on this trip is probably not a great idea. We tend to order dessert more often than we order wine (or any alcohol, for that matter), though we both drink it on occasion. Places that don't require reservations (or at least don't need them days in advance; we should have a cell phone) and allow casual dress (we won't be any worse than neat and clean jeans with a non-t shirt) are preferred. Mexican, Italian, Chinese, sushi (with cooked non-fish stuff on the menu), barbecue and somewhat adventurous contemporary American/eclectic are our favorites, but if they have a menu online (best) or in front of their building (adequate), we'll give them a looksee. Currently planned stops include West Hartford, Portland, Northampton, Nashua, Providence, Burlington, and probably others. Any other vacation recommendations are happily accepted as well. The URL that should be below is to a little form I built for people to email suggestions; feel free to use that in addition to any posts here.

In payback, I'll be posting trip reports after (and maybe during) the trip, digital photos (if we get the camera) and my utterly anal but extensive Excel spreadsheet with lots of New England travel info. That'll be at the same place.

Thanks for all your suggestions, and if you need any Central Jersey (Somerset/Hunterdon esp.) recommendations, give me a holler.



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  1. In Keene, NH try Nicola's Trattoria for fine Italian food right off Central Square by the county courthouse.

    In Manchester, NH try The Korean Place on the corner of Chestnut and Hanover Streets.

    These are two of my favorites retaurants in the state.

    In Portland, Maine try Street & Company for great seafood.

    In Brattleboro, Vermont do not miss TJ Buckleys. Better have a reservation though.


    1 Reply
    1. re: John Rab

      I second Nicola's in Keene -- what a gem! Also check out the chocolate place (with a horse-related theme for some reason) on the north side of the square; Timolean's right on Main Street for breakfast, and there are a number of pretty good coffee places on Main Street, as well -- I like the one nearest Nicola's, but can't remember the name.

    2. If you happen to be passing through the Worcester, MA area, here's a few suggestions.

      Hot Dog Annies - A little off the beaten path. See my other posting specifically about them.

      The Sole Proprietor - Absolute top notch seafood on Highland St., downtown Worcester. Pricey, but excellent.

      Sophie's Restaurant - American cuisine & cheap. Except for the lobsters, dinners run $5 - $10.95 and the portions are good. Avoid the seafood platter (too small for the money, $7.50) and the Veal Picatta (the cook thinks it's supposed to be made with tomatoes). I recommend the Chicken Marsala or the Rib Eye Steak. Prime rib only on special. Route 70 north off of I-290 just over the Worcester/Shrewsbury line.

      Leo's Ristorante - Just off of Shrewsbury Street, right off of I-290. Very good Italian food reasonably priced ($7 - $15). Look for the signs on Shrewsbury St., can't see it from the street.(Shrewbury St. is the Italian section of town. Several other good restaurants, Italian & other within a half mile.)

      In Leominster, MA just off of Route 2 across from the Seartown Mall is some pretty good Tex-Mex food at Borders.

      Have a nice trip!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Papa Dan

        Sophies is closed and is being auctioned from what I understand. The Border in Leominster I second.

      2. Jen:

        No trip to England would be complete without heading to Camden, Maine! November is one of the best times to visit this lovely little town: It is less crowded, room rates are low, and it hasn't gotten that cold yet. You should really add it to your itinerary.

        While your in Camden, Cork Restaurant is a must try. From what yu describe, it will be perfect for both your taste and your husband's. It is one of the only restaurant's in coastal New England to special in meat (NOT SHELLFISH - although they do offer the token lobster and crab). The chef is fond of cooking many exotic game meats (i.e. ostrich, elk, wild boar, etc . . .), as well as chateaubriand, to satisfy your non-adventurous husband, (the BEST center cut of beef tenderloin I have ever had)! The wine list is beyond match in the area and has even won the Wine Specator "Award of Excellence," 3 times. All this, and there is no dress code! Be advised that in November, they start to cut back their hours to 3 - 4 days a week - Call ahead to find out. Also, the restaurant is small, so I would recommend reservations. In November they probally won't need more than 1 days's notice. Again, I would call.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Emma K.

          Emma K and Jen,

          Please be advised that Cork in Camden closed years ago. It's now a decent wine bar cum restaurant named Ephemere. The must-eat place in Camden is now Francine Bistro (see many, many posts on this one); in the same vein, down the road in Rockland is Primo, another fabulous $100 plus dinner place.

          1. re: Shooley

            I ate at Francine's when I was in Camden last week. It certainly was the best dinner I had in Maine. Not just good food, it was imaginative and creative, each dish an excellent blending of flavors. Decent wine list, too.

        2. In Portland I like Fore Street -- open kitchen, great variety of meats and seafoods, well prepared. It's a great place to have a wonderful meal. On Fore Street, close to the Old Port.

          If you're traveling beyond Portland up Route 1 DO NOT MISS Sarah's, in Wiscasset. No matter when you go there are lines, but it's worth the wait. Fresh homemade breads and soups, and all sorts of sandwhichs, salads, calzone-type thinggys. Huge servings, fun, relaxed place. I have NEVER had a bad meal there. In the same area, if you want more cozy, pubby dining, less kids and lines, try King Eiders Pub in Damariscotta.

          In Vermont there are tons of choices. Sweet Tomatoes, in Lebanon New Hampshire (just over the line on 89) and also in Burlington. And you must check out the various restaurants run by the VT Culinary school in Montpelier (although I can't recall any names). There is also a good little diner in Montpelier (near the book shop) with great breakfast.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Guinevere

            I like the Sweet Tomatoes in Rutland, but find the Burlington one too noisy (outside may be better) and very unattractive/uncomfortable in its basement setting. The nearby Leunig's Bistro has much better food and atmosphere. They also have a killer deal of an early dinner (soup/salad and mains) for $15 - you must be seated 4-5:45 or their last hour of service (varies). I had an awesome beef bourgignon there in May. The NECI place in Burlington closed several years ago (I realize the original message was from nine years ago) and I used to like the one in Montpelier, but the prices are now too high for what you get and the quality of the staff and food varies too much - Restaurant Phoebe is the best meal in town; I like to sit at the end of the bar and watch the kitchen action. I haven't been there, but have heard that Red Door is good. I think the diner on the corner ("Coffee Corner" I think) is way overpriced and horrid. I usually hate hotel restaurants, but a better breakfast (outside of the home fries, which are awful almost everywhere these days, even if they're not deep-fried) is at the Capitol Plaza (across from the State House) and they serve Starbucks.

          2. Shalimar in Portsmouth, NH. Although it's hard to find a bad restaurant in Portsmouth, the one I return to more than any other is this awesome Indian place. Park by the big whale; it's next to Banana's

            4 Replies
            1. re: Sara Zoe

              Shalimar is superb Indian for Portsmouth, NH but I wouldn't begin to call it the best Indian restaurant in New England.

              Bananas is now called The Sports Page.

              1. re: GeoffD

                GeoffD, it appears you ressurrected an 8 yr old post - perhaps back in 2000 Shalimar was the best around?

                1. re: GeoffD

                  Jewell of India in Biddeford, ME has been better than Shalimar for awhile. Although I recently heard that Shalimar has improved of late.

                  1. re: humin

                    really?! I gave Jewel of India one try sometime this summer and it was horrendous. My wife's chicken tikka tasted like it had sweet tomato sauce on top....completely devoid of indian spice/taste. Mine (the vindaloo) was okay, but far from special.

                    Maybe I should give it another chance. Any specific dishes you can recommend?