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Jan 22, 2011 08:29 AM

What's happened to the Common Man

We used to enjoy the one in Lincoln, N.H., and I once had a great buffet at the Plymouth location, so we visited the one in Windham (I had a hankering for prime rib). Granted, it was on a weekend night, an iffy time at restaurants, but everything was horrible. A Sapphire martini did not taste like Sapphire; the second was no better after asking the waitress to make sure it was, indeed, Sapphire. Escargot was glopped up with too much cheese and I believe bacon (it's been a while, I've had trouble accessing this site). Prime rib tasted as if it had been steamed. A barbecue dish, pulled pork, I believe, (as I said, it's been a while) was cloyingly sweet with maple flavor. Whatever vegetables we had we forgetable. The whole experience was on a par with a chain such as Chilis.

Has this place gone downhill or is it just the Windham location, which is enormous?

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  1. I haven't been to that location, but we have been to several Common Man restaurants (the original in Ashland being the best) and have never had a bad experience. The food and the service has always been tops. Hopefully it's just that one, and perhaps it was just a bad night.

    1. The first time I went to the Common Man, I was very happy with everything... it was like eating at a "Mom and Pop" where they cooked everything themselves, and the children served it, and they cared how you felt about the meal. The last time I went, I felt like cattle being served in a trough. The server brought out my food before I took one BITE of the salad bar that I opted for with the meal. The meal itself was slopped together on the plate like the dishwasher scraped leftovers into the pigbucket. I was so disappointed. Seems they are getting too big for their britches,

      3 Replies
      1. re: gryphonskeeper

        which location was this? I hate hearing that they are going down hill.

        1. re: gryphonskeeper

          Salad bar??? When did they start this?

          FWIW, we've only been to the Windham location once, and had a bad experience. Have always had good meals at Lincoln and, more recently, Portsmouth.

        2. Just went to Common Man in Concord this week, and was not impressed at all. Ordered the salad and quiche of the day. The salad greens were wilted and had that "starting to go bad" smell. It was supposed to come with balsamic vinaigrette, which was very scant. The quiche was like eating rubber. It was not fresh by no means, and tasted like it was frozen and reheated several times over. Will not go back again anytime soon.

          1. I don't recall the Common Man ever offering anything but institutional grade food. I do remember the Common Man Diner in Concord, but back then it was standard fare reheated Sysco truck diner dreck. My wife actually waited tables at the Concord outpost when she was in grad school, so I know all the dirty little culinary secrets. For instance, the spongy prime rib arrives at the restaurant par cooked in a cryovac bag filled with "jus". People seem to love it, though. It's cringe inducing to hear the term "fine dining" bandied about by the unwitting clientele.

            1. I think the owner of the Common Man is an absolute genius and I tip my hat to him. He has the right formula and plays well to his customer demographic. The name says it all as he's catering to the common man--the everyday Joe who dines out occasionally and wants free cheese and crackers. Yes, indeed, there's nothing fancy or upscale about the place, and they do a tremendous business because they lack pretension. I hear the new location in Portsmouth is always busy, while fancy Mombo (around the corner) is not. I mean, come on, they have over 7,500 fans on Facebook. So they get away with serving mediocre Sysco food and they laugh all the way to the bank. I don't blame the Common Man and I don't even blame their clientle at this point. It is what it is. Live free or die. Amen.

              3 Replies
              1. re: bewley

                Sigh, this can be said of too many places in NH. Places get away with serving mediocre food because people like long as it's cheap and you get a lot of it, most people are happy.

                1. re: bewley

                  What you're saying is absolutely right, but no one here is critiquing Alex Ray's business acumen. Food doesn't have to be expensive and pretentious to be good. As is the case with music, film and all of the other areas where artistic/artisanal endeavors meet commerce, the restaurateur who panders to the lowest common denominator usually walks away with the largest market share and the biggest bag of cash. I don't make a ton of scratch, so food value is VERY important to me. That's why I usually end up eating at places run by value minded immigrants who care deeply about their recipes, heritage, and the quality of food they produce. I'll often walk out of an interesting regional Chinese restaurant stuffed to the gills, with four more meals worth of leftovers and a wallet that's only $35 dollars lighter.

                  1. re: crowdingthepan

                    I agree wholeheartedly and respect your approach to eating out.