Monday, February 7, 2011

Lefties Can Kill Dolphins, Too

The Sandwich Depot
49 Hall Street
Concord, NH

Hours: 6 AM-2PM, closed Sunday
Alcohol: No
Food: Home-cooked breakfast and lunch food

I tend to like family-run neighborhood restaurants.

The kind of place where they know the names of at least two thirds of the customers.

The kind of place where the place closes for two weeks every summer when the owners go on vacation because that means half the staff's gone.

These places don't have the soda taps and other amenities that you get at bigger places, the kind of people who run successful local restaurants tend to care an awful lot about service with a smile.

Even if they're raging lefties.

The first time I came here, a buddy of mine had told the proprietor's wife that he was bringing his big conservative friend to the place, which meant she peppered me with questions before I even ordered food.

It wasn't unfriendly, but still, it means I only go there once every few months at best in the hopes that they mostly forget who I am, aside from a foggy recollection that I've been there before.

And that's hard, because both the proprietor and his wife have excellent memories for names and faces, a valuable asset in neighborhood restaurateurs, but they stopped greeting me by name a couple of years ago, so maybe it's safe to become a regular now and just go and talk about how the Sox did last night, or whatever else.

Aside from the conversation, the only other direct evidence that these folks are lefties is in the newspaper selection: you can get the left-wing local Concord Monitor and then the New York Times, and that's it. No conservative Union Leader in this establishment.

No sustainably grown whole grain free range organic food or any similar nonsense -- just good, solid well made unpretentious fare.

And virtually all the plates and cups are paper, which is a big no-no for the environmentalists. They do have recycling bins for the plastic bottles all the drinks come in, but that really doesn't make up for all the dolphins this place kills.

The restaurant, as the name may suggest, is in an old rail depot building from back before Interstate 93 in the back yard was built over some railroad tracks.

Needless to say, there's tons of railroad decor and other old New Englandy stuff, and in winter, they run the wood stove in the corner. The proprietor was filling it up as we walked in.

I went to this place on the morning after I'd pigged out at a Super Bowl party, and my stomach was still aching.

I'd agreed to do a 7:30 breakfast with an older couple I'm friendly with before I realized it was the morning after Super Bowl Sunday, and not surprisingly, we were the only customers in the restaurant the entire time I was there -- everyone else was squeezing in those last few minutes of sleep.

Except on Saturdays, when there's waiter service, customers order on the counter and then the kitchen staff brings the food out, and customers typically throw away their plates in a trash can by the door.

So instead of my usual sausage, mushroom and cheese omelet with cheese, salsa and sour cream-covered beans, I did a bowl of oatmeal with bananas and brown sugar.

It was tasty -- clearly real, steel-cut stuff, not the basic Quaker Oats, and it was an overflowing portion in the bowl (I couldn't even really get the milk into the bowl before I ate some of it), and there were plenty of bananas.

But on to more interesting food.

The comment one friend I brought here a few years ago made was that this place makes real food. It's all clearly homemade recently, and it's all quite tasty, even if it's not the oversized portions you're used to in a lot of other places.

The omelets at least feel like they're of the two-egg variety -- usually an omelet comes on an oblong platter, but theirs come on a round plate, but the rest of the plate is filled with beans, home fries and/or toast.

They're at the lighter, fluffier and less greasy end of the omelet spectrum, but they're still quite tasty.

Ordinarily, I'm not a huge fan of having the beans on the plate right next to the omelet or eggs, since I like food segregation, but here it's not a huge deal, since they're refried beans instead of the Boston baked variety, meaning that they're better about staying on one end of the plate.

Overall, everything's pretty solid, if a bit basic with slightly smaller portion sizes.

Unlike a lot of 6 AM-2 PM places in New Hampshire, this place promptly stops serving breakfast at eleven, and while I've heard their sandwiches are pretty good (after all, that's what the place is named for), I've never actually had one.

All in all, it's definitely a place that I'd mean to put higher in my rotation of breakfast and lunch haunts, provided I can avoid the politics.

Rating: Seriously Considered Buying the Shirt

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