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Dec 10, 2009 03:58 PM

Rustic Leaf Bistro - New in Milford NH

We tried the Rustic Leaf Bistro tonight, the new offering from the former owners of Seedlings in Nashua. It only opened 3 nights ago so there are still some kinks to be worked out. But overall, we were impressed.

The decor is quiet and tasteful, yet welcoming - soft greens, wood accents, gas fireplace. Everything is clean and updated. The staff were friendly and helpful. They definitely want to make it a good experience.

The positives: Interesting menu, featuring loads of vegetables, seasonal foods, as well as chicken, fish and pork dishes. Edamame instead of the typical bread basket. Really great salad dressings and excellent soups. The prices were very reasonable - we each had a salad, a glass of wine and an entree - total bill, including tip was around $44.

The growth areas (as we say where I work): Better choice of wines, some of the food could have been warmer, my husband's risotto was slightly undercooked - not very creamy.

Overall: We will definitely go back and are very optimistic that it will get even better. A very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours in Milford on a cold, snowy night.

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  1. Is this where the French Bistro used to be? Gad to see that something ele has taken over that spot.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hummingbird

      It is in the former French Bistro site. Hope it is a HUGE success!

      1. re: whs

        I agree - we used to trek into Nashua every couple of weeks to go to Seedlings because we liked it so much. I feel like Milford won the food lottery when they decided to open a restaurant out here!

    2. Thank you very much for the comments. We are already expanding our wine list to include local, family farmed, fair trade, sustainable, organic, and biodynamic selections. Hope you will come back and try us again.

      2 Replies
      1. re: rusticleaf

        I am looking forward to trying this place...maybe for lunch takeout to start. I am hoping that along with your local wines you will include Farnum Hill Ciders and Pennichuck beer! Good luck in Milford :)!

        1. re: rusticleaf

          This is all very good news. As a former regular of the French Bistro and as someone with an interest in biodynamic wines, I look forward to trying the Rustic Leaf. Best of luck.

        2. so great to hear, very excited to try it, love the seedling!

          5 Replies
          1. re: erinm76

            I found their website. Hoping to try it soon - perhaps this weekend.


            1. re: Dave B

              I made it to dinner at the Rustic Leaf Bistro with the GF this weekend. I wish I had better news - I wouldn't quite call it a complete disaster, but it was definitely a disappointment.

              It was a poor dinner experience created by a whole slew of little things that kept building and building, until we were almost glad when it was over and we could finally leave. Usually I am less tolerant of mis-steps and errors than my girlfriend is, but this time even she was annoyed.

              I would say 60% or more of our complaints were on the service side rather than the food. But food issues were present too. Mind you, I am a champion of small locally owned restaurants and go out of my way to cut them some slack when they are new and getting the 'lay of the land,' so to speak.

              My first negative impression was the room was very loud. I had a difficult time conversing with GF over the din. Strange, because we were in a relatively small room with maybe 6-7 tables, so I couldn't understand how such a small room could be so noisy.

              Here's our primary list of complaints from our dining experience;

              - Our server never introduced herself. She was friendly, but overtly so, in an awkward way.
              - She didn't know the "style" of one of the bottled beers I enquired about. (No draft selections) I ordered it anyway and would describe it as a brown ale.
              - We asked about what white wines they had and asked if they had a Gew├╝rztraminer or Riesling, and she had no clue about what these styles were. They don't have a beer/wine list.... the server reads them to you from a list they possess. There were three white whine options available.
              - The "menus" were poor photocopies. My $89 ink-jet printer would do a far better job.
              - From the list of appetizers, we decided to split a 'mac and goat cheese,' with sun-dried tomatoes and peas. This was horrible. The pasta was VERY thick and chewy. Pasty and yucky. It was a very cold evening so a comfort-food ap like this sounded appealing on the menu, but in reality Kraft mac & cheese would have been far better. Unfortunately, I'm not joking. The poor execution of this dish seemed to set the stage.
              - The GF ordered a vegetarian dish with quinoa as the feature, and it wasn't bad. However the menu description listed it as being served with a "hash" containing sweet potatoes. There were no sweet potatoes in the hash but rather carrots. (Which were repeated elsewhere in the dish.) Fine, but a server should advise upon ordering if there have been changes/substitutions from the menu.
              - Waitress asked us how we liked the appetizer so I told her I really didn't think it was very good. "Chewy, starchy and gummy." And her feet almost fell out from underneath her. She was taken aback and didn't know what to say - and didn't. She just left the table.
              - About 15 seconds after a kitchen-runner brought our entrees, our hapless server asked us how our dinner was, all I could say was "Well, we don't know yet."
              - I ordered buffalo the short ribs. They were served just about cold. Room-temperature, if that. Flavor was OK, but they were a bit over-cooked and I would guess had been cooked and done many, many hours before.
              - When our woebegone waitress tried to take the empty glass from table of the beer she couldn't describe to me, she dropped it on the floor, smashing it to pieces, creating a minor scene.
              - GF and I really wanted to get out of there at this point and didn't opt for desert. After asking for the check I went outside to start my car to warm up, as it was about 15 deg F outside. When I went out the main entry we entered from there was one of the staff standing at the podium in the entry area. When I tried to go back in 20 seconds later, the door was locked and no one was anywhere to be found. I stood at the door banging on it for 2 or 3 minutes, absolutely freezing my butt off.
              - GF had paid by the time I was let back into the restaurant. On the way out I asked how much she had tipped. It wasn't much, and even after a very poor experience I wouldn't have been so harsh with the tip. I'm always good with 20-25% unless malfeasance occurs, and this was close.

              In conclusion, I'm not in any hurry to go back there.
              This waitress was not fit for Applebee's. I AM NOT JOKING. You would expect, and receive, better service professionalism from Applebee's. And most importantly, the food did not impress, at all. Prices were reasonable, but to what end?

              A harsh review - yes. If you look up any of my comments in the several years I have been posting on Chowhound I'm not overly critical of restaurants, I don't believe. If anything, I'm supportive and promoting of locally owned restaurants who are doing something special and doing something right. Unfortunately GF and I left feeling like we had wasted an evening out that we can never get back.

              1. re: Dave B

                Sounds like an evening in restaurant hell, and that Rustic Leaf needs to pick up their game if they want to succeed. Give me a competent, impersonal waiter anytime. (Though the waiter pool in MIlford has always been pretty abysmal.)

                1. re: Dave B

                  Food was GREAT but service was the worst I've experienced. Despite the poor service - we will be back. The menu and philosophy of local well prepared food is long over due. The menu is diverse AND just unique enought to overlook some poor service glitches. The owners of this restaurant need a little time to find the right wait staff. That being said, the server forgot to bring out the ordered salad (but did take it off the bill) and appeared surprised that it hadn't been brought out. When asked, we requested more water which never appeared and we didn't see the waiter again until it was time to order dessert. Dessert was offered but coffee had "been dumped" and was "probably" unavailable - this despite having made reservations at a time suggested by the restaurant. The waiter was otherwise polite and very knowlegable of the details of the menu items and adult beverages available. The restaurant was at capacity but there were more than adequate waitstaff for the small number of tables.

                  1. re: Dave B

                    I actually cringed reading this review! I have been in the same situation at a small family owned restro, and it made me ill to know that it was not the owners fault, it was the extremely poor service that tainted my evening. Don't get me wrong, I am in the biz, so I am very understanding of things beyond your control.... but wow!

              2. I don't normally write my own reviews, but after reading this page, I definitely felt the need to defend this restaurant! My boyfriend and I tried the Rustic Leaf for dinner two nights before Valentine's Day as an early celebration, and we agreed that we had found a new favorite place to eat in Milford. Our waiter was outstanding: polite, incredibly informative, genuine, and efficient. Normally we tip 20% for good service (we'd tip more if we weren't poor college students), but we went over for him. He even helped us select wines based on the entrees we planned to order. We struggled with the menu for probably 10 or 15 minutes just trying to decide what to order - everything sounded uniquely delicious. Eventually we decided on the brie appetizer, the risotto entree, the butternut squash ravioli entree, and the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake to finish our meal. Everything we ate was fabulous - well-cooked, flavorful, hot - and I loved that they brought out edamame in lieu of bread. The idea of a restaurant that goes out of its way to use local, organic, and fair trade ingredients is one that I fully support; for said restaurant to be located in Milford, even better. All in all, my boyfriend and I had a wonderful experience here, and we have already decided to return for our anniversary next month.
                Please remember that reviews are based on one experience; one server, one night, one meal. If you haven't visited this restaurant yet, don't decide not to go because of one negative review. Give it a try and see for yourself, and I hope that you're experience will be as a good as mine was.

                2 Replies
                1. re: SugarMagnolia

                  "found a new favorite place to eat in Milford"

                  This statement, in your defense of a negative review, speaks volumes. Why you ask?

                  There are no places to get good food in Milford, thats why..its a place to grab a greasy breakfast when youre on your way to buy a used car. There is NOTHING in Milford, and dont even try to convince me of otherwise. The Seedling was a nice place to get wraps/salads presented in a healthy/organic state. Was nice to see and hear of them trying this out.

                  Sounds like they need some critcism, as the service/servers need some in house training. Imagine being a small startup in Milford? Hiring out of that pool? Something simple and fresh probably comes off as pretentious because all thats out there is Pasta Loft, Elishas and Georgios..Theyve got their work cut out for them, for sure

                  Location is tough and will be relying on customers from other surrounding towns to keep it up and running.

                  1. re: ctroutman

                    You're correct, and I was unclear with what I wrote. I don't live in Milford; I only spend weekends there when I'm visiting my boyfriend. What I meant was that it is one of my new favorite restaurants when I am visiting Milford, which includes the greater Nashua area. It wouldn't be much of a compliment if I just meant that the place is better than, say, a Big Mac or a pre-made sandwich from Cumberland Farms.

                2. 5 star, definately
                  My husband and I ate there last night, and EVERYTHING was FABULOUS. I read the reviews above, and obviously they have improved. The food was unique, VERY flavorful, light and tasty, with many flavors per dish. The Edamame was a wonderful touch; tasty, good for you and fun to eat. The pear salad was tasty, especially with their home made balsamic vinegarette. You could tell the tomato black bean soup was made with fresh tomatoes, not over cooked, with a tasty broth. My husband had the calamari, and it was spicy hot as advertised. The walnut encrusted chicken was done just right, and the sweet potato has was yummy; the green beans was young, fresh and lightly cooked. My hsband enjoyed the salmon, a large thick piece that was lightly cooked and moist. It came with several baby vegetables and rice that were very good. The waitstaff was helpful and friendly, my water glass was refilled several times. When we were done, the check was presented in a timely manner. The decor is understated, lovely warm colors. This place is a winner.
                  We are already planning a family birthday party next month to be held there. Hope you enjoy this restaurant as much as we did.