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Black Orchid Grille Nashua, NH

Got together with family in Nashua last week and went to the Black Orchid for the fist time. I hadn't heard much about it but a couple people in our party had been before and thought it might be worth a shot.

Quick take: Prices a bit high for blah entrees and apps. Good service and bartending. Probably best to stick with a steak for the best value.

My BF and I have been marveling over this experience for days. In some ways this will be a long-remembered night out. The scene being far more memorable than the food.

Started with cocktails in the "bar" area. The wine list is pretty weak. By the glass options are very limited, not so great and over priced. $9 for an okay glass of sauvignon blanc. Martinis looked like they had potential to be good. (Have noticed a recent martini trend in Nashua that's kind of interesting.)

Starters were mussels and calamari. Calamari looked fine although I didn't try it. Mussels were good. So far so good.

Three in our party got the fillet special ($30). Another selected the regular menu fillet ($28) and I ordered the pasta special, a saute of chicken, shrimp, scallops, garlic over linguine ($35). The steaks were well prepared but served with pretty meager sides. The pasta dish was terribly bland which was a major disappointment because the shrimp and scallops were actually cooked quite well. It just didn't really register on the flavor scale.

All in all the food wasn't terrible but it wasn't great either. I think they need to revise the pricing a bit or make steaks the focus. Better yet, close and re-open as a steak house. Just MHO... Really though, they can't compete with the Italian food down the street at Michael Timothy's. I did think they had the edge over Villa Banca, which I think is horrible, but without the Main St. frontage they probably get overlooked.

What made this night out remarkable was the live entertainment. Jeff is a one-man-band. He plays keyboard and guitar and seems to know everything and anything rock/pop from the 1960's-1990's. He was kind of unreal. He looked like a lost Baldwin brother, and when he spoke he sounded like one too. He went from the Bee-Gee's to Robert Palmer to The Beatles with ease. He managed to mimic every vocalist in every way possible. Truly unbelievable. Only problem was that as the evening wore on and parties departed (the place wasn't even half full when we got there) his volume increased. It got to point where we were shouting to hear one another over the music. Don't get me wrong, he was wildly entertaining, but good Lord was he loud. I didn't hear much conversation at our table after a certain point. And boy did he have some stamina! We were there for nearly three hours and he didn't take a break. On another night I might have really enjoyed a couple cocktails and his version of "How Deep Is Your Love" at full volume but I couldn't really get into it during a family dinner.

The Black Orchid won't be some place I eat at again, but if I'm in Nashua on a Thursday evening I might go in for a drink and a chance to catch Jeff again. Sadly there's a real campiness to his performance in that environment that really shouldn't be funny, but it is and it's got to be seen to understood. Think the Barry Gibb Talk Show on SNL without the costumes.

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  1. Wow--great report! Had a similar experience. My filet mignon was cooked perfectly but the so-called gorgonzola sauce had minimal flavor. The new crop of upscale restaurants in NH charge Boston prices, but the chefs lack the maturity and personality to make the food distinctive. Maybe I'm feeling a little curmudgeonly after two weeks in Italy and France, where EVERYTHING tasted good...

    2 Replies
    1. re: whs

      I feel your pain! I returned recently from a week in Montreal. Hard to expect any place in Nashua to keep up the pace with culinary meccas like Italy and France. Any chance "the lost Baldwin" was at the Black Orchid when you gave it a try?

      1. re: kittychow

        Could that have been him on the keyboard??? Actually, Nathan Baldwin was cooking for a short while at Fody's, but by the time we got over there, he had disappeared into the night. The waitress told me he was getting into the software business (?). BTW, Fody's is another place with a nice room and good service but just misses in the food department. I didn't spit out my duck breast, but it was insipid.

    2. Good review! AND he is the best!!!!!! Truly. His name isn't Jeff, it's Joe McDonald! And he does look like a lost Baldwin Brother!!!!

      1. $35 for PASTA? Oik! I live in downtown Chicago, and no one here would DARE charge that. It's been a long time since I lived in NH, but still....

        At those prices, it should have been a religious experience...

        13 Replies
        1. re: Pete Oldtown

          Yep, gone are the days of the $6.95 salad/entree/dessert/coffee dinners at the Modern on Pearl Street.

          1. re: whs

            As of a couple of years ago, gone is the Modern...

            1. re: lar3ry

              And - I miss them dearly!
              I do see some of the old crowd (who used to frequent the Modern) at T-Bones.

            2. re: whs

              Talk about "bland" food - the Modern Restaurant led the market in "bland"!

              1. re: sassybrass

                The Modern Restaurant was the best local place in NH for so many years. I spent my whole life going there where you knew what to expect and it never failed. They used to serve the best steak dinner I've ever had anywhere then or since. I would love to know of a place that even comes close. My parents and I were there at least once a week for as long as I can remember.

                1. re: othervoice

                  If only the Black Orchid could make chicken croquettes as good as the Mod. The gorton was pretty good too.

                  1. re: whs

                    That's so funny that you bring up the croquettes. The Modern was the only place I ever ate a croquette, and for the life of me I can't remember what gorton is. Another favorite was their salad dressing, it was kind of sweet and sour at the same time, but I've never been able to find anything in the stores or to home make it myself.. I could go on about that place I just miss it and the memories.

                  2. re: othervoice

                    You really mean that the Greenridge Turkey Farm was the greatest restaurant in NH history, right? :)

                    1. re: Guinness02122

                      What's this Greenridge Turkey Farm?
                      I see no mention of it on this board outside of this post.

                      1. re: Keithel

                        The late, lamented GTF was on the site of the current Barnes & Noble at the corner of DW Highway and Spit Brook Road. You could get a turkey dinner with all the fixins for $7.95 every day of the week. It was like all Thanksgiving, all the time.

                        1. re: whs

                          Reminds me of going out for "grown up" lunch with my grandfather. Ahhh the good ole days.

                          1. re: whs

                            I was a dishwasher there for a year in 1982

              2. I went to the Black Orchid not too long after it opened and I liked it (probably like you somewhere between Michael Timothy's and Villa Banco). I think I had the Shrimp and Scallop Pomodoro, which according to the online menu was/is ~$21 and was pretty good. I can't imagine $35 for a similar pasta dish, though. I did like the atmosphere (no entertainment at the time) and I'm told the martinis were good (I stuck to beer and red wine myself).

                And I have been in the area long enough to remember both the turkey farm and the Modern, although I don't have any fond memories of either.

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