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Jan 1, 2009 06:15 PM

Where did everyone dine on New Years? Was it great? (merrimack Valley area)

We had late reservations at Ricardo's Cafe Trattoria in Lowell. Place was hopping, obviously these people all know each other and dine here often. It was a fun scene, jazz music, singer sitting at the bar, felt like a local neighborhood party. Our waiter was awesome, she was on her game considering the obstacle course to get to us. I had another fabulous Mussles Special that was out of this world - cream base with leeks and pernod. I've got to duplicate this at home and get my fix whenever. I could have had another bowl. Hubby got a cup of minestrom soup that was also fantastic and a caprese salad (although it was excellent, nice reduced balsamic dressing - it was just too big) he didn't want to finish it. Both our entres were perfect. Mine was lobster ravioli with shrimp and asparagus. His was the swordfish, with risotto and scallops.

We haven't been in a while. Excellent reminder of wonderful night out/excellent dinner. We met Mrs. Ricardo - very pleasant people. We sat at a table in the bar area which got pretty crowded and noisy but hey, it's New Years Eve - we had fun with it.

How did everyone else do? Where'd ya go?

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  1. I wonder if nobody's replied in the last 36+ hours because the weather was too abysmal that evening for anyone to venture out? ;-) I had to stop for gas that evening and felt like I was going to die either from the cold or by being blown away into a snowdrift!

    We ate in (pork vindaloo -- yum!) but then I had a hankering for a decadent dessert out. After considering the options around Nashua, and which of these would likely be closed, booked, or only serving special (read: $$$) New Years Eve menus that night, we ended up finding ourselves at the upstairs pub/bar at the Common Man in Merrimack.

    I've discerned that "Common" and "Man" tend to be dirty words around here, but we really enjoyed ourselves. It's cozy as heck up in those old rafters there, which was the perfect antidote to the frightful conditions outside. The live music and complimentary cheesy NYE hats and plastic "leis" added to the cheer. We had your typical calorie-laden CM desserts, and were pleasantly surprised by the selection of hot toddies offered (again, perfect under the conditions). I had something called a "ski jump," which was hot cocoa with peach schnapps and coconut rum ... and it was as good as it sounds. My wife has some sort of minty hot cocoa concoction.

    We were home by about 11, and (true to Chowhound form) I spent my last hour of 2008 perusing web site of restaurants in New Orleans, which we are visiting for the first time in a few weeks. Maybe not the most sociable activity, but it struck me a very optimistic and forward-looking way to welcome the new year!


    9 Replies
    1. re: tunamelt

      Excellent way to start off 2009. I lived in New Orleans for 7 years and bought timeshare JUST to go eat once a year for one week (once I moved back to New England and sooo missed the food, people and music). You will have an absolute blast. We are going in June, combining a conference with vacation. I haven't ever found a culinary destination as unique and special as New Orleans. It's my food scene.

      1. re: lexpatti

        Mind if I bounce some restaurant possibilities off you here once we've narrowed it down a bit? ;-) I've thought of posting our options on the New Orleans page, but suspect that they may be tired of all the "I'm going to New Orleans, where should I eat??" threads!


        1. re: tunamelt

          Mind if I butt in? I'm a NOLA native living up in Vermont these days. The number of suggestions can get pretty overwhelming for a city like New Orleans, so I'll restrict myself to two. Mandina's is a great neighborhood joint, usually very crowded in the evenings. They've got a long history of Creole and Italian food; it's one of the few places where you can still get turtle soup without spending an arm and a leg for fine dining prices. The other place I'd recommend is Upperline. It's tough to make the kind of food New Orleans is known for without seeming out of touch and stodgy these days, and I think Upperline maintains the best balance.

          Mandina's Restaurant
          3800 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70119

          Upperline Restaurant
          1413 Upperline St, New Orleans, LA

          1. re: MightyFrog

            I graduated from HS just outside New Orleans - mandeville/covington. Thanks for your suggestions, I'm starting my list too for June and Upperline looks fantastic and I've heard wonderful things from many. How do you ever get your fix being up in Vermont??? We found this fantastic crawfish festival in New Jersey that we are now on our 3rd year - all the food/restaurants/cooks come up from La. (music is awesome too)

            1. re: MightyFrog

              Hi MightyFrog -- Thanks! From perusing the web sites of Zagat- and Frommer-recommended places, the "out of touch and stodgy" nature of some of the better-known restaurants is palpable. Some of the classic places that many seem to view as the "must-eats" in New Orleans (Antoine's, Arnaud's, Commander's Palace, Galatoire's, etc.) ooze stuffiness to me, and that's so NOT my scene. Plus -- I'm on vacation, I'll be damned if I am going to wear a sportcoat to dinner. ;-)

              The type of balance you cite at Upperline is EXACTLY what I am looking for and I really appreciate the suggestion!

            2. re: tunamelt

              Yes, throw some out there on this thread and see what happens. When are you going and where are you staying? We're going to be trying some new places since I've been on chowhound but we have our fav's for certain things - for us, we don't fine dine our way through New Orleans because I love the oysters, po-boys, muffelatta's, red beans and rice, gumbo, jambalaya, turtle soup, bbq shrimp - I think that maybe just traditional new Orleans. I lived on the other side of the Lake and we like to hit up one of two places over in that area (La Provence and Sal n Judy's) - I used to work at La Provence. One new one that I had never gone to that I keep reading good things about is Casamento's - I love character joints.

              1. re: lexpatti

                Hi lexpatti -- We're there Jan. 18-21, an awkward Sunday to Wednesday trip born of my wife's extremely limited vacation time and inflexible work schedule. A number of places that have looked interesting to me so far are closed Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday, which will surely limit our choices somewhat. (This may actually be helpful, given the apparent embarrassment of riches that is New Orleans dining!)

                I think we'll be using lunch to sample some of the classics you mention -- po'boys, muffaleta, red beans and rice, gumbo, etc. So I am probably looking more for dinner suggestions.

                We're staying at the InterContinental on St Charles St., which should position us well for anything in the French Quarter or Central Business District (and of course we are willing to taxi it for anything further afield).

                I've made a bunch of notations in my Zagat and Frommer's guides (which I don't have with me now) ... later this evening I'll post a list of places that have looked intriguing to me thus far, for expert feedback.

                1. re: tunamelt

                  OK, so here's the list of NOLA eateries with tick marks next to them in my Zagat and Frommer's guides (in addition to Mandina's and Upperline). Any and all feedback appreciated! Alas, we only have three dinners there ... sigh.

                  August -- www.rest-august.com
                  Bayona -- www.bayona.com
                  Cochon -- www.cochonrestaurant.com
                  Cuvee -- www.restaurantcuvee.com
                  Herbsaint -- www.herbsaint.com
                  K-Paul's -- www.kpauls.com
                  Lilette -- www.liletterestaurant.com
                  Mr B's Bistro -- www.mrbsbistro.com
                  Muriel's Jackson Square -- www.muriels.com
                  Nola -- www.emerils.com
                  Stella! -- www.restaurantstella.com

                  1. re: tunamelt

                    Very impressive list, good luck picking three. :-) I don't have any experience on these but have heard wonderful things about August, Bayona and Herbsaint and Stella (if I would have to choose 3 it would be from those 4). You can also do the others for lunch, many do a fanastic lunch. Plan on bout 6 meals a day - (gotta fit those po-boys, muffs, red/bean/rice, and oysters in). We have done both Emeril's and Nola and personally enjoyed Emeril's better then Nola, our next trip will also include Delmonico's (just so that we've done them all).

        2. Not on NYE, but a night or two before we finally dined at The Glenview Pub (you raved about the lobbie rolls there). Nice warm neighborhoodsie type comfort food place with a menu that rivals the length of the Cheesecake factories. Great "Light" baked Haddock meal for those watching the waistline. My wife ordered the Toll House Pie for dessert and it was sinful. It was at least 1/4 of a pie, about 2" thick of warm, gooey, chocolately, nutty cookie gooeyness. I think it even had ice cream AND hot fudge on it too! You can knock yourself out for the night eating one of those by yourself.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mjg0725

            Glad you enjoyed, I do really enjoy their food - we knew the cook for years but he just left so we haven't been back. I've seen that beautiful haddock but haven't ordered before. Love their calamari, excellent pastrami sand, great onion rings too. Scalloped wrapped in bacon - take a long time to get through that extensive menu but nice to go with a group because something for everyone.

          2. Made Hoppin' John and enjoyed the evening with friends at their home in Manchester. Had a bottle of Veuve Clicquot at midnight--everyone commented how bad Dick Clark looked.

            3 Replies
              1. re: lexpatti

                It's baked blacked-eyed peas and rice, flavored with ham and bacon--it's supposed to bring good luck in the new year. The Joy of Cooking has a good recipe.

            1. Hey! We had a great New Years Eve dinner! Homemade chinese food at my parents house! Less than a quarter mile from our house so you can drink wine and make it home intact. Once home, homemade apple crisp with Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream and a viewing of Shrek 2. I cant think of a more perfect way to celebrate!