Monday, July 25, 2011

New England Road Trip: 2011 (Part Three)

The view from Mount Washington Summit
We made our way west across Maine by nightfall after grabbing Pat's Pizza and stayed over night in a town just over the New Hampshire border. The Inn we stayed at had a pool and Sauna, so we relaxed and planned the next days adventures before heading to sleep.

New Hampshire... I can't think of anything to describe it but beautiful.  I am simply in love and would love to have a summer or vacation home there, I wouldn't live there full time until I knew how the winter weather was though (I'm not a big fan of extreme cold or extreme heat). We were stopping every few miles in the morning to look at lakes, waterfalls and trails. I made a failed attempt at getting Mike to drive up Mount Washington (He's afraid of heights) but all we got was a summit view, which was still spectacular. 

Water call at Flume Gorge
Our activity for the day was a park called Flume Gorge. Located at the base of Mount Liberty it is a trail that loops around a 800 foot gorge that has been carved out through Conway Granite and Lava Stone from millions of years ago. I have always loved exploring these things, even if they have been 'comercialized' because it give a glimpse into a different work, in my opinion. The walk was tough but well worth the view of the beautiful waterfalls, rock faces and rapids. It was a pretty hot day so the mist was also an inviting experience. 

After the Gorge we lazily made our way around New Hampshire just driving and relaxing. Around dinner time we searched on Gluten Free Registry and only found a few places about 50 miles away. Already exhausted with so much walking and driving we settled on the place with the best reviews and hoped for the best. We headed towards:

Tavern 27
Laconia, New Hampshire 

This is, hands down, the BEST gluten free find EVER. I cried, literally, with joy because everything pretty much amounted to my gluten free version of heaven. I Am Not Kidding. Laconia itself is a medium sized town set within a few lakes in lower New Hampshire. The buildings are a mix of old, Victorian and modern and the atmosphere seemed full of relaxation and a simple connection to life and the environment that you can rarely feel in a town. Tavern 27, soon to be The Mystic Meadows, fits right in and includes a restaurant, golf course and a little antique and boutique called Magical Mystery Store. 

Complimentary Bocadillo and Bards
Tavern 27 is Tapas Style food with an american twist, making it ideal for trying a number of their dishes at one meal (which is a good thing if you are visiting and have no idea when you'll be back!). The elegant menu  was simple and contained many items which are made gluten free, with mainly only the obvious items seeming to be non-gluten free friendly. An added bonus was a gluten free dedicated fryer, a rare find in most chain restaurants so it is incredible to find this in a tiny non-chain.  

When Mike and I arrived we were the only two patrons in the restaurant so we received first class service, although I am sure we would have received it regardless. Everyone was incredibly nice, friendly, helpful and open to discussing anything and everything we had a question about. The owners explained that they went with gluten free options because one of their mother's was gluten free. Making GF food is a challenge that they love.

Tavern Fries
Mike and I tried 7 dishes including: Inside out Garlic and Pepper Poppers, Chickpea fries (fritters shaped into fries), Tavern French Fries (Sweet potato and regular fries), Cloud 9 Shrimp (large shrimp with the chefs special sauce), Crispy Crab Cakes, Wild Mushroom Steak Roulade (thin steak wrapped around mashed potato and wild mushrooms) and complimentary Bocadillo on rice crackers. We made two separate orders, because what we ordered the first time was so good we had to try more. Items came out at different times, making it easier to savor every little bite, and boy was that needed.

Chickpea Fries 
Usually at restaurants, even when I am blissed out, I flavor my food with salt, pepper or other seasonings but I did not need to do that here. Everything was perfect and flavorful on its own, with and without sauces. Many Tapas come with sauces for dipping and most of these sauces were spicy yet sweet, such as the chipotle ketchup for the tavern fries. The flavor in everything was astounding, with each item being distinct and classy. Not only that but the presentation was amazing on each dish. You can tell that the owners, staff and chefs are truly dedicated to the eating experience of their customers, gluten free or not!

Cloud 9 Shrimp
We topped it off with a Rootini (Root beer and Ginger Martini), a Bards and complimentary bottle of ionized water. In total, everything came to about 100 dollars well spent on GREAT food and company.  For tapas this price is great for the amount of food!

In conclusion Tavern 27 gets 5 HUGE SHAMROCKS. Go if you can, it’ll be well worth every minute! Be sure to check out the Magical Mystery Store as well if you are into Yoga, antiques or eastern styled items!  I would drive the 6 or so hours to eat there again any day. Who knows, maybe I’ll have my summer home in Laconia!

Gluten Free Options: 1 
Atmosphere: 1
Price: 1
Hospitality: 1
Food Quality: 1

TOTAL: 5 Shamrocks

Stay tuned for the last excerpt in my New England Travels, Hopefully to be posted next week!

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