Good Eats in Nashua, NH
My wife, my daughter, and I decided to travel to Nashua to visit the India Palace on Rt. 101A (on the north side of the road in a shopping plaza). It was a Saturday afternoon, and they had their lunch buffet. The three of us had been to the India Palace in Manchester, and we had great expectations for this one. Like the one in Manchester, the Palace is located in a strip mall, and it wasn't difficult to find parking.
The place was a bit crowded, but we noticed that the interior was larger than the one in Manchester. The buffet was in full swing, and after about five minutes, our party of three was seated.
We all had the buffet, which had a great selection, which contained all the basics you'd expect in a good Indian restaurant, including Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Tandoori, plain and garlic naan, vegetable pakoras, daal, etc. We augmented the buffet with a few orders of Pappadum (cheap and spicy lentil wafers that my family just loves!). Being a buffet, it was all you can eat, and although there were a few desserts on the buffet table as well, we avoided them.
Instead, we drove about a block further west down 101A until we saw the Texas Roadhouse on Cellu Drive. The Roadhouse wasn't our destination, but rather the Cold Stone Creamery in a strip mall on the opposite side of Cellu Drive.
This was one of the first times we visited Cold Stone. We saw a description of the place on one of the cable "TV Diner" or "Phantom Gourmet" shows (can't remember which). When we saw it on TV, we thought "typical to have something like that in Boston," and didn't think much of it again until we heard that there was one in Nashua. This place specializes in inc cream and it shows. You select your ice cream flavor (about a dozen) and the size of the container (from the small "Like it" to medium "Love it" to the large "Gotta have it"), and then decide what you want mixed into it... and you can get things from Snickers bars, nuts, marshmallows, chocolate chips, gummi bears, brownies, etc. They have a set price per additive, and they will put your ice cream on a "cold stone" (hence the name) and mix your ingredients by hand in front of you... it's sort of like a dessert with a show.
There isn't much area for sitting (a few tables), but the place wasn't crowded when we visited (it's the middle of winter! Ice cream???). I could imagine this place in summer being very crowded.
The pace at Cold Stone was leisurely... even with only one person ahead of us in line, it took about five minutes for the three of us to get our ice cream selected, mixed, and delivered in waffle cones. This only added to the anticipation for the eventual consumption.
If you can't decide what additives you want put into your ice cream, they have a few pre-defined "original creations," such as "Chocolate Devotion," and "Cherry Loves Cheesecake." While you are waiting your turn on line, you can examine these (which helpfully list their incredients) to decide what you want, or you can make minor modifications to create your own "custom creation."
There's a refrigerator near the cashier where you can pick up a carton of one of their original creations (no waiting if you're in a rush!) or an ice cream cake of various sizes and ingredients. The place also does shakes and smoothies to round out their selection. That's it: ice cream and the like.
You pay a premium for this ice cream, but I feel it's worth it. In the end, my tummy was a bit fuller (especially after that Indian buffet), and my wallet was a bit lighter. As a silly bonus, if you drop a dollar tip (or two!), the people behind the counter will serenade you with a silly song saying "thank you!" We heard three different of these "thank you!" tunes while we were there, as people left their gratuities.
I cannot think of a nicer way to spend a weekend afternoon than a great Indian buffet topped with a Cold Stone dessert.
I hear that a new Cold Stone will be opening somewhere in Manchester soon--and from the map on the Cold Stone web site, it appears that it will be coincidentally close to the India Palace in Manchester... do you think it's a plot?
I know they have a daily lunch buffet at both locations. You can actually see the buffet setup at the Nashua location by looking at the "Photos" section on their web site. I believe the buffet is available every day from 11:30am until 2pm (but don't quote me on that; call ahead if you really need to know).
The buffet changes from day to day, but Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Tandoori are both usually available (not surprising, since those are the two most popular Indian dishes in America). I've never seen my favorite dish (Chicken Makhani) on the buffet, but it's similar (and, to my taste a bit superior) to the Tikka Masala.
From memory, the food at the main part of the buffet the last time I went there included Mulligatawny soup, vegetable pakoras, plain and garlic naan, basmati rice, daal, alloo mutter, chicken tandoori, chicken tikka masala, lamb curry, chicken saag and a few other dishes as well. Quite a good selection for under $10.
I've seen that place in the past, but this time of year, I tend to avoid the ice cream places since they tend to be seasonal. However, Jake's web site (thanks for the link) indicates that they are open during the winter. Interesting! I'll have to give it a try, if my wife and daughter allow me to pass by Cold Stone without stopping...!