It’s been a couple months since the Salt & Granite adventure began. Any regrets? Well, yeah, first off: I haven’t gotten to Connecticut or Rhode Island since starting S&G, so I haven’t really reviewed any food from there. That doesn’t mean I haven’t thrown a little glimpse of Connecticut or sweet Rhode Island love out into the world. But it would be nice to check out the restaurant scene and maybe the culture scene and maybe even the public transit scene.
But I have spent some time with the S&G taste gang, a group of a half-dozen hard-working professionals who join me on trips to eateries in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. So in honor of nothing in particular, here are four restaurants whose reviews weren’t long enough to cover in their own articles.
Real quick before we get going: these aren’t exactly rave reviews. I heartily recommend them all for their own reasons, but nothing here is unskippable. Enjoy.
Vermont: Gaku Ramen
Located on Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace, Gaku Ramen is a standard Japan-esque bistro with only the slightest of Vermont twists. The restaurant – which describes itself as having a “chic yet comfortable atmosphere” – has more or less the menu you’d expect: gyoza, edamame, shoyu and miso bowls, a hearty tonkotsu, rice bowls, etc. The karaage, “Japanese style fried chicken”, is an unusual twist and we tried it on a previous visit in 2017. It was pretty good but not up to par for what we might get in Boston or D.C.
The service at Gaku is slow, too. And the prices are a little high. So uh. You might be wondering why it gets a write-up. The answer is because nothing fills you better on a cold Vermont night, nothing warms up your heart and soul, like a bowl of freshly prepared noodles. Gaku might not stand out in a bigger city but in Burlington, where it’s one of a scant few noodle shops in downtown, the hearty portions and savory flavors are a must-experience if you’re shopping on Church Street in the fall or winter.
Maine: Kon Asian Bistro
I swear they’re not all Asian places.
Kon is a hibachi restaurant in Portland near the Westbrook border. It isn’t going to be on your Bon Appetit list of Portland’s best restaurants because it’s a standard, run-of-the-mill hibachi restaurant. But it’s still Portland, so it’s very, very good. The seafood is fresh and tender, the meat is seasoned and cooked to perfection, the rice is rice and the drinks are strong.
Since Portland is getting real high-falootin’, Kon is one of many restaurants filling out the Date Night category: it’s good, it’s affordable but not “cheap”, and it’s relatively fast. In fact, for a hibachi place, Kon was downright express.
New Hampshire: Conseulo’s Taqueria
Conseulo’s adobo chicken quesadilla cost $6.50 and comes with house-made pico de gallo.
I don’t know that there’s a better deal in all of Manchester.
There’s not really much more I can say about that, either a quality chicken quesadilla with fresh pico de gallo for $6.50 appeals to you or it doesn’t.
If it doesn’t, Salt & Granite may not be the outlet for you.
Massachusetts: The Gallows
I’ll be honest: our trip to The Gallows, a gastro pub in Boston’s South End, came after a long day spent touring other Boston sights. There’s been a post in the works about that trip for a while but by the time we hit up The Gallows we were a couple margaritas deep into what turned out to be a pretty exciting evening.
The Gallows, which The Boston Globe obnoxiously called a “well-executed watering hole”, is a pub themed around the macabre. It has a big wall in the style of a Ouija board and another wall which has the entirety of The Raven on it with a headless, limbless mannequin. There are people who would not enjoy dining in this kind of environment but I’m not one of them, I thought it was great.
I settled on a “for the table” item, a bowl of PEI mussels in German beer broth with diced bratwurst and a side of grilled bread. The whole thing was very savory. I can’t say I’d ever even considered German-sausage-and-mussels before but the combination works well, not unlike salt pork in a fish chowder (which I imagine is the inspiration).
The Gallows’ big claim to fame might be the Stoner’s Delight, a dessert made from peanut butter mousse, chocolate ganache, banana, and bruleed Fluff. This seems to be a thing at The Gallows: my meal was all salt and savory, desert was all sweet. Other menu items, like a braised rabbit popover with mushroom and corn, seem to reinforce that the chef at The Gallows likes to keep his flavor groups separate. But if you’re determined to break the mold, you can build your own burger: two members of our party went for the burgers and gave them rave reviews.
Bonus: A BeaverTail from Ottawa
It’s fine, Canada. But a fried dough topped with fake maple and a zig-zag of chocolate syrup is not exactly a delicacy worth bragging about.
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