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Sep 24, 2012 05:21 AM

Market Grille - Manchester, CT

We did a drive by yesterday after a movie to see if by chance it was open. Grand opening is Tuesday but they were accepting guests, working out the kinks. We elected to sit at the bar to take advantage of the best view from a restaurant in Manchester. They also have a patio off of the bar as well. The bartenders were excited to tell us about their concept of all American. Want a Grey Goose? They don't carry it. Want a Margarita with Patron? Nope. Every offering behind the bar is from the US (including the Virgin Islands). They offer at least a half dozen infused liquors and are planning on seasonal drink specials. I had a Margarita with jalapeno and chipotle infused tequila. It was delicious. One of the bartenders let us try some of their apple infused bourbon which was good enough to drink straight.

There are a lot of small plates available as well as a variety of salads, pasta dishes, meat and seafood entrees. We started with a soft pretzel to munch on as we perused the menu. It came out with a small cup of mustard as well as an apple butter/puree sort of dipping sauce. Very tasty. I decided to go with the Three Meat Ragout over broccoli rabe. It came with a fair amount of shaved parmesan cheese as well as a dollop of ricotta. At first I thought there was a little too much broccoli rabe but turned out it was just enough. My wife had the Jambalaya which she said had a nice kick of spiciness to it. One of the managers came over as we were at the bar and another talked to us as we left. They will do very well in this old Hops location and we will be back to try even more of their offerings.

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  1. Thanks for the preview! I tried to go yesterday as there were several cars in the lot, but the door was locked. I was probably an hour too early. I think I read that the plans called for a 70-seat bar. Is it really that big?

    2 Replies
    1. re: dugbee

      The bar itself will not seat 70 but the bar area with all the High Tops and booths will probably hold that many. There is also a door from behind the bar so that the bartenders can serve people seated at a small outside bar.

      1. re: jcanino

        I believe the restaurant officially opens today. Here is a link to the website that includes the menu:

    2. Thanks for the report. I was in the Buckland area yesterday and figured this was just another typical for the area chain restaurant filling in Hop's old space. Thank goodness someone is actually using that phenomenal view that little hill has and even better that the food gets good marks.

      1. I wish I could echo your experience but we experienced a pretty poor night....

        Four of us went there on a Saturday night with high hopes. The place was crowded and really had a nice design inside and out. Unfortunately, none of this extended to the service or food.

        Service- we were told that the wait would be one hour. Long, but not surprising for a Saturday night. Unfortunately, the hour extended to an extra 45 minutes. Questions on the delay were met by the manager with a shrug of the shoulders and " we're really far behind" .... no new estimated time and no empathy. It seems to me that estimating wait times is a pretty basic function of the front of the house. Hard to keep your enthusiasm up while you stand for nearly 2 hours wondering when you will be seated

        Bar-- a huge and nice looking bar. And ok if you want standard beer and drinks but missing some odd items.... for example, no lemonade to mix with drinks. Also no Campari (I was told that they were an American bar specializing in classic American...huh?). You're a bar... you've invested a fortune in a nice look... drop a few bucks on pretty common mixers.

        Food-- great looking menu but generally under seasoned and not executed well. Rolls were standard Sam's club type ciabatta rolls. Needed to ask for additional. The fried calamari had nice flavor but needed to be crisped up. The arugula and goat cheese salad was lacking vinegar and the goat cheese had zero goat cheese flavor or tang. Finally the Reuben on a 'pretzel' croissant was pretty dismal. The croissant was sad with none of the flavor of a real croissant. And the rest of the Reuben was pretty poor quality meat and almost no sauerkraut....just disappointing

        I hope they can up their game on service and food. The decor and location/view is great but really need to (a) season your food, (b) use better quality ingredients and (c) set your guest's expectations on wait times.