MANCHESTER, NH – With a nod to the Lovin’ Spoonful: Hot time, summer in the city, here’s your restaurant news and nitty gritty! There’s so much going on in Manchester right now it’s hard to keep up, but we’re giving it our best shot. If you have an item for our weekly Manchester Bites, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: Manchester Bites.
Cabonnay has been fine-tuning operations since its soft opening back in May, and co-owner Cornelius de Jong is excited to show off some of the changes. First and foremost, he’s hired Angela Jacobs to lead in the kitchen – former chef de cuisine at LaBelle Winery, and most recently of Mandarin Oriental Boston. That means a new menu and a new level of culinary expertise, melding Italian, French and Thai influences.
Parting ways with Chef Chris Viaud was bittersweet, says de Jong. But in addition to presenting beautiful dishes of excellent quality, food must be delivered to guests in a timely manner. de Jong says Jacobs’ leadership in the kitchen will improve the overall dining experience for Cabonnay guests.
Also new – beyond the hand-picked wine selection – Cabonnay now features a select craft beer and cocktail menu.
“Although this is still a wine bar, we’ve listened carefully to feedback so we’ve added a select number of craft beers,” de Jong says.
Also new: You won’t be able to miss the baby grand player piano, prominently featured just west of the upstairs bar. When not on autopilot, look for live entertainment – Edward Bemish, house pianist, will be tickling the ivories at 6 p.m. every Wednesday, and Silver Screen Sunday Audio Experience is now a thing – movie themes, songs and soundtracks that span the decades will emanate through the various dining rooms. All that, plus Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., as well as Cabonnay’s first local art exhibition, “The Spirit Lives Within,” featuring the work of Michelle Dyson, which opened July 12.
Growing pains and new restaurant kinks have left de Jong more determined than ever to entice the dining public to give them a second try, if their first visit wasn’t up to snuff.
“We’ve made the decision to stick with who we are and what we do. This is a passion project, and while saying Cabonnay offers a ‘sensory experience’ may sound dorky to some, we really mean it. The words “fresh, oasis and bliss,’ are our foundation pieces. We want people to find restful spaces here, despite the chaos of the world around them, to be something more than your average restaurant,” de Jong says.
The Veranda Bar & Grille is turning up the heat this summer with a few enticements – Happy Hour is every Tuesday and Wednesday from 4 – 7 p.m., with $2.50 beers and all cocktails 50 percent off. Blue Point oysters are $1 each on Tues., Wed., and Thursday, aka Buck-a-Shuck Oysters; and All you can eat BBQ buffet Thursdays on the patio for $15, plus live music.
Giorgio’s Ristorante Manchester just celebrated its first year in business on Granite and Second Street, and owner George Sklavounos wants everyone to know he’s got everything you are looking for in a neighborhood Italian restaurant, plus weekly specials: Monday is 1/2 price pizza and pints; Tuesday get any 2 Giorgio’s classic dishes for $22; Thursdays enjoy $8 Martinis; and Sunday all the Buck-a-Shuck oysters you can manage.
New in town: There are lots of new eateries on the horizon. Here’s a recent round-up:
Madear’s at 175 Hanover, offering cajun classics and tapas. Give Chef Robb Curry a little time to work out the bugs – opening day his HVAC system was still under construction, and speaking of construction, city roadwork has resulted in a big hole in front of his eatery, and a line of big orange cones where the on-street parking should be. But Curry promises to deliver the most authentic cajun flavors, tapas-style, you’ve eaten north of the Louisiana bayou.
The Yard, 1211 S. Mammoth Road, is no longer – at least, not as it has been known for decades. Now, it’s the Backyard Brewery, joining the trend of tap house eateries with a variety of craft beers. Although their website appears to be still under construction, you can view the new menu here.
Crown Tavern is also under construction, an offshoot of the high-end Hanover Street Chophouse, located at 99 Hanover St. Look for more details as the restaurant gets closer to opening.
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