As my more frequent readers know, Doc has a lot of hobbies, passions and abilities. However, there is nothing I love more then a good night out with the hubby at a mouthwatering restaurant full of charm and hospitality. Fortunately, for me and my husband, there are tons and tons of great places to eat in Central NH. However, there are those times we don’t want to travel about, too far from home. Thankfully, 5 of Central NH’s very best restaurants are located right here in Ashland NH. And of course Doc is going to provide that list for you, in no particular order. Bon Appetite!!
1. The Common Man
Located on Main St just across from the Common Man Company store and right next door to Ash True Value this one of a kind dining experience is a must try. Inside you will find quaint country charm galore. In the winter you can cozy up in the main dining area by the heat of the old black cook stove or you can wander upstairs to the bar and sit on cozy couches in front of the roaring fire of the small woodstove. If you choose the bar you can also find hidden nooks and crannies perfect for lovers of all ages. All sorts of local artists are also known to perform various forms of music as you eat. However, the bar is very relaxed. You order your food and drinks and sit upon couches, like you have at home, to partake of it. Up here they also have games, a deck for summer seating, a TV, books and free, slice your own, cheddar and crackers. Down in the dining area you will find conventional booths and tables as well as free dips and crackers. I personally recommend getting a heaping helping of the white dip. This garlicky, cheesy dip is so good it just cannot be described in words!!
Whether you head to the bar or the downstairs dining area I would highly recommend a meal of mussels in garlic cream sauce with an uncommon salad. The mussels have cream, white wine, garlic and basil while the salad has candied hazelnuts, garden greens, balsamic vinaigrette and gorgonzola cheese crumbles. Not enough cheese on the salad? Ask the waitress and she will freshly grate more cheese and, if you wish, pepper onto your salad or. Wash all of this down with a glass of cider grog. Very sweet and full of cinnamon, this rum based drink is sure to warm you up from the inside out on a cold winter day. For dessert try anything. I have and they are all excellent!! Wash dessert down with a steamy hot mug of the Common Man’s famous coffee or coco that has been laced with various alcohols. Just when you think you will burst the waitress comes around on the dining room level with a heaping sample of the Common Man’s famous white chocolate!!
The only downfall to this restaurant is that the candle light is to an extreme. It is hard to read the menus and to navigate the aisles. My friend wont eat here because she cannot see her way around. Very disabled, she almost took a tumble trying to navigate to the bathroom on one occasion. That was her final visit. I would personally recommend bringing a small flashlight if you have night vision problems. On the flip side, you can listen to my husband’s secretary’s sister, Auntie Henrietta, do her famous comedy act via loud speakers in the bathroom. Always a funny bathroom experience if I do say so myself!! I cannot remember a time that I didn’t walk out of that bathroom chuckling!! People who haven’t experienced using the facilities with Auntie Henrietta often stare at you as you come out of the bathroom door cackling loudly. But don’t worry about being embarrassed, they will find out soon what it is that got you cracked up!! One last tidbit about this restaurant, it is on the high end of the budget. Not overly high but still up there so reserve this one for that extremely special night out.
2. The Common Man Deli
Located in the Mobil Station down by the I93 exit and entrance ramps this little gem is also owned by Alex Ray, the owner of the Common Man. However, this little eatery is much smaller, much brighter and less expensive then its sister just up the street. Here you will find amazing gourmet foods perfect for that romantic picnic on the beach or for that hurry up and go meal you need at work. If you prefer to stay and eat your gourmet delicacies, there is a small bar area located in front of a bank of sunshiny windows. Not too comfy but still workable. When in season I would recommend the Owen’s Farm salad with half a sandwich. This meal comes in around $5 and really fills you up in style. The Owen’s Farm salad contains fresh spring greens, candied hazelnuts, balsamic vinaigrette, gorgonzola cheese, fresh herbs and, if available, a wide array of edible flowers. Watch the counter for their deals sign. The prices cannot be beat on these daily specials and the amount of food you receive is enough for a small army!! You will want to also check out their desserts. These are the same caliber of sweet treats that are sold at their sister facility so they are well worth a second look. They even have homemade ice cream on sale. On certain days and at certain times of the week you can even get a nice sized ice cream cone for only $1. Ask about it when you place your order. This deal usually ends around 5pm so make sure you come early. I personally recommend the Happy Cake flavor. This unique ice cream is vanilla ice cream with giant chunks of real and very homemade birthday cake right inside of it. So good in fact that I may have to stop writing this article to go get some!!
The only downfalls to this eatery are its size and parking capacity. Very small, you cannot truly comfortably enjoy your meal within the facility itself. And the view from the small bar type eating counter is that of the dirty gas tanks outside. Not very pleasant. For parking you have to compete with the Mobil customers. In winter this is doable but in the summer it can be a bear. You have tourists using the bathroom, grabbing drinks and eating ice creams on top of the locals who are just trying to live their lives in peace!! The first thing tourists see when coming off of I93, I have actually seen long lines form during the hotter months.
3. Lucky Dragon
In the mood for Chinese food that is fresh and flavorful without all the added chemicals that some restaurants put into their food? Well, this low cost, family run gem is just the ticket. Right next door to Bob’s Shure-Fine Market and across the street from the Mountain Laurel Flower Shop on Main St, this restaurant is very conveniently located. Even though they are a small facility they have a menu that includes Tai, Japanese and Chinese delicacies. I would highly recommend the Wanton soup with its julienned veggies, large overstuffed Wontons and flavorful broth. Follow this with their creamy yet crunchy crab Rangoon and finish your meal with their amazing curried rice noodles. Just remember that the curry can be a bit hot so be sure to ask for mild if you don’t like hot foods. Also, I would recommend the sweet tea. Some people hate it and some love it. Either way it is worth at least one try. I personally love it to bits! Very sweet and creamy this tea tastes like adding lots of cream and lots of sugar to your regular tea. However, this is not a hot tea. It is served over ice. This restaurant is also perfect for the holidays as they do take out on a regular basis. Try serving Chinese and Japanese appetizers at your next Christmas or New Year’s party. Party goers will be talking about your event for years to come!!
The only problem with this restaurant is the parking. You cannot and should not park at Shure-Fine or Cumberland Farms so that leaves parking right on Main St. A tricky spot to maneuver in and out of as you have that blind curve down by the bank. Just be extremely careful when you pull out. Watch for Shure-Fine patrons and watch the curve. You should do just fine.
4. Village Pizza And Grill
Located across from the ballpark there is a lot to be said about this newcomer. They literally came into town with a blast and have kept us locals coming back for more ever since. With large portions, authentic flavors and friendly wait staff this place cannot be beat. For your meal here I would highly recommend the lasagna with meatballs. This meal easily feeds two hungry souls for only around $10 and includes a very simple fresh salad, a large platter of lasagna, two meatballs and a big dish of fresh garlic bread. Pay a little extra and they will add Feta Cheese and Greek Olives to your salad and cheese to your garlic bread. Either way, the price just cannot be beaten for a fun night out for two. Another great feast here would be the steak and cheese sub. Full of ooey gooey cheese, shaved steak, onions, mushrooms and peppers this one is definitely a tummy pleaser. On a diet but still want to splurge? Try the sub on a wrap instead to reduce carbs. Not in the mood for subs or lasagna? Well why not try a calzone or pizza. The calzones could easily feed 2-3 people and come in a variety of fun, pallet pleasing flavors. The pizzas have wonderful flavor and will feed a family of 4 for very little money.
A problem with this location is that the highchair belts are all broken. So, in order to enjoy a good meal with your active toddler, you have to hold them with one hand and eat with the other. Not so comfortable. Also, busy bodies tend to hang out at this location. I was once accused of trying to have my son exercised of demons because one busy body heard only bits and pieces of a conversation my husband and I had at this very restaurant. Not understanding the whole conversation and not willing to ask us about it she called DCYF and reported us!! What was actually happening was that we were having TAPS come investigate our haunted house. She thought TAPS was an exorcist group coming to check out our unruly son!! Because of dimwits like that and because of the lack of high chair belts, I would highly recommend take out for families wanting to have a quiet, uninterrupted dinner experience and conversation. It is cheaper in the long run anyhow since you don’t have to tip anyone. However, you will miss out on the fun, friendly and courteous service of the wait staff if you do stay home with your delicious treasures.
A piece of advice I would like to sneak in, if you don’t eves drop in the first place then you wont cause harm to unsuspecting families. I would recommend getting hobbies and/or a job like Doc has. They reduce the need to eves drop and cause trouble. Besides it must be very boring to have to hang out at the best restaurants in town and cause trouble for people whom you don’t know. Try enjoying your husband and the atmosphere around you instead. I promise that once you stop eves dropping you will realize what a wonderful friendly town and restaurant this is.
5. The Ashland House of Pizza
Located right next to the park in the center of town on Main St this pizza place is perfect to stop at during all those in town events such at the town wide yard sale, the day in the park and the Christmas tree lighting party. I have never had any of their other foods but I have had their pizzas on a regular basis and I can tell you that they are incredible!! The sauce is just right, the cheese is ooey and gooey and the toppings are always piled nice and high. The closest restaurant to my house, I frequent them whenever I want a quick, cheap and tasty meal that I can get home to the family in record time. They also have a dessert that I have tried. Although I cannot say or spell the name I can tell you that it is to die for. It looks just like a large Shredded Wheat biscuit that has been drenched in honey and nuts. I always order a few of these to take home as well. Just be careful they do leak badly of honey. I have covered the car seats on many occasions. Not to mention that I covered myself and the counters in the kitchen. Well worth the mess though just to sink your teeth into that sweet wholesomeness.
Although the pizzas and dessert are amazing, the facility itself is a little run down looking. Old hard laminate benches encompass laminate table tops. Not comfortable and not pretty. The inside is also a bit dark. The parking is non-existent so you do have to park right on Main St. Not an easy task since you are literally parking in the middle of the intersection.
Another interesting occurrence that I would like to note is the recent visit to the front door of this facility, by the towns notorious black bear!! So just make sure to run from your car to the restaurant. I wouldn’t dawdle because you may become what is on the bear’s menu for dinner!! Trust me, I know this bear and he is not at all nice. He has visited my house on occasion as you can see in http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/807021/bear_attacks_in_central_new_hampshire.html?cat=8 . So just pay attention when entering this facility or any other business on this end of town. It is much better to be safe then to become dinner!!