Back to North Conway
Here are some eating notes from another family vacation (with an 18 month old and an 8 year old) in the North Conway area:
Best Return Visit(s): The Stairway Café (2 visits) – the blueberry pancakes were amazing, as were the huevos verde (sunny-side up eggs on corn tortillas, with a green chile sauce, an herb salad, chicken-jalapeno sausage, and avocado). There are also game sausages available, for something different. Very kid friendly and homey (pricey also, but worth it). Flatbread Pizza is always a winner – enjoy the vibe, love the pizza (no leftovers, even with the kids). I tried a “Dark and Stormy” here, made with Meyer’s Black Rum and a local Maine ginger beer – interesting (sorta like drinking black licorice).
Best New Place: Wine Thyme (located in the old Coyote Rose) – great tapas and wine, and also great service. We had the red wine cheese (and nut) plate with a Tuscan red and a Spanish red. Tapas included a forest mushroom risotto and tuna sashimi in a martini glass, with a cucumber dressing. Surprisingly kid friendly (at lunch) – very welcoming, with an offer to whip up grilled cheese or macaroni & cheese if desired. We also tried Priscilla’s Café, a new breakfast/lunch place that just opened recently (across from Peaches, in the back of a parking lot). O.K. breakfast, and very homey and welcoming – but still some kinks to work out. The blueberry pancakes were not very moist, and the home fries need more tender potatoes.
Best New Visit to Old Place: The Red Parka Pub: Decent steaks, a salad bar available, and fun for the kids. Plus, we had the best blueberry pie of the trip for dessert. The steak chef is very talented – my wife’s filet minion came out a little raw on one side (instead of rare). It was whisked back to the chef, who expertly seared it so that it came back out perfectly cooked to order.
Random Notes: The best amusement park food was at Santa’s Village – a “decorate your own” gingerbread man, which came out very yummy. We also tried Mama Kelly’s Irish Restaurant – good fish and chips, but the rest of the food was so-so (dried out corned beef in the corned beef and cabbage). I had a good lobster roll at Matty B’s (on the special board) – light on the mayo, with a more lemony dressing. Everyone was offering lobster because of the low prices. On the way up, we stopped at the Tilton Diner (exit 20 off of Rte 93), where I had some surprisingly good whole fried clams (with some so-so fried haddock) – the kids loved this place. On the way back, we had dinner at Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant in Meredith, which had the most extensive kid’s menu we have ever seen. We had turkey dinners (of course), with tasty (uncanned) gravy and stuffing. Pet peeve – in maple syrup country, why does everyone charge extra for maple syrup with your pancakes? Just raise the price of the dish and include it – with so many suppliers, it can’t be that expensive that you need the extra mark-up.
Thanks for taking the time to post these useful tips. I just traveled to N. Conway for the first time. Had my six year old in tow and found your recommendations most helpful. We tried Stairway (a big hit, she ate most of the goat cheese out of my salad though!) Wine Thyme, and Flatbread --we love Flatbread when we travel to Portland so it was great to find out there was one in N. conway too.
Wine Thyme might be a bit of a stretch for many small children. I have a semi-adventurous eater. She had the lamb lollipop "tapa" and then ate so much of my canelloni stuffed with chicken & spinach that we had to order a second.
Glad to know you enjoyed your visit and found my suggestions helpful.
I can't disagree with you about Wine Thyme. But note that when we went to Wine Thyme, they immediately offered to fix an (off-menu) grilled cheese or mac-n-cheese plate for our kids. My (picky) eight year old settled for a grilled chicken sandwich on the menu (with just cheese and regular mayo, no tomato or lettuce). Our (eat-anything) 18 month old gobbled down cheese and bread from our cheese plate, and took tastes of anything else offered to him. I felt more comfortable taking them to Wine Thyme for lunch than I would have for dinner -- still, it was nice to have an adult meal in a place with an interesting menu, even with the kids sitting there.
Great review!! Still haven't gotten up to Stairway Cafe, but after reading all the great reviews, I need to put it on my list to try next time we are up there. We tried Yesterdays over in Jackson for the first time a couple months ago and really liked them. The pancakes were huge (and I want to say that they didn't mark up the REAL maple syrup, but can't remember) and the hunters hash was chock full of steak and peppers. My husband loved it and it's one place we will be going back to.
I remember seeing Priscilla's Cafe but didn't go. So glad to see a review on it. Hopefully, with some time and practice it will get better.
Sorry to hear about your lackluster food at May Kellys. It's one of our favorites and we have always found that food to be excellent and we love the family feel of the place. I'm hoping that you just got a bad night with the corned beef and that it's not a sign of things slipping.
We liked May Kelly's atmosphere -- maybe we just ordered the wrong food (although an Irish restaurant should be able to do a better than average corned beef and cabbage). As I stated, May Kelly's did great fish and chips, and we might have enjoyed other items on the menu if we ordered them. I was also struck by the lack of any salmon dishes on the menu (either smoked salmon or fresh salmon) -- Ireland is big on salmon dishes.
My opinion may also be influenced the fact that I've been to O'Connor's in West Bolyston on a regular basis. While not every dish there is successful, it usually shines on the Irish specialties. When we go back to North Conway, we will probably give May Kelly's another shot (although I will probably go next door to Moat Mountain first -- I wanted to go there this trip, but did not find the time).
I posted re: May Kelly's Cottage elsewhere on the boards. I am sorry your corned beef was dry. We did not do a gourmet tour of North Conway, but my wife and I both felt May Kelly's had the best food we had in our entire 10 days in Maine- New Hampshire. We fell in love with the North Conway area, not so much for the food, but the scenery, the surprise recommendations from locals re: things to see and do. On your next trip give May Kelly's another try.