October 23, 2018
The international part of our Happy Hour Tour continues this week with a review of Bistro On Main in Manchester. As you might infer, it features a French influence. It’s also unique from the standpoint that it’s actually “a social enterprise owned and operated by the Manchester Area Conference of Churches (MACC).” In addition to striving to create a unique guest experience, Bistro on Main also supports MACC Charities through its profits and helps at-risk individuals break the cycle of poverty “through transitional employment and work readiness training.” In fact, its theme is “Eat Good. Do Good.”
We applaud their efforts, but we don’t give anyone a free pass as far our Friday Happy Hour Review is concerned. Fortunately, as you may have gathered from the headline, they didn’t need one!
“Joie de vivre” May Not Be Listed On The Menu,
But It Was Served With Everything We Ordered
While I always hope for a good experience, I honestly have no idea what to expect when I visit a new Friday Happy Hour. Usually, my first impression comes from a quick scan of the environment and the bartender’s initial expression. The two combine to give a pretty accurate read of what the Happy Hour experience will be like. At Bistro on Main, the one thing that consistently came through, from first glance until I left, was what the French call “joie de vivre” or “the joy of living.”
Perfectly aligned with my mental image of a bistro, it felt cozy and inviting with a nice wooden bar and open kitchen. That image extended to the radiant smile that Mary (my initial bartender) greeted me with as I sat down at the bar. Later, Amanda took over the bartending duties with just as big of a smile. (Sadly, we live in an increasingly angry world, so I truly appreciate smiling faces, especially when they may be the first smiles I’ve seen all day.)
I spent a good deal of time chatting with Mary about mixology before my friend Suzanne arrived to join me. Mary, and later Amanda, was extremely attentive and took exceptionally good care of us. Executive Chef Ben Dubow even came out and talked with us for bit. The whole time, they all gave the impression that they really liked being there and doing exactly what they were doing. That made Bistro On Main one of the most welcoming establishments I have visited.
A Good Selection Of “L’heura de l’apéro” Drink Deals
Deserves A Toast – “á ta santé!”
Normally, I would have tacked on my usual toast of “Cheers!” However, that is bad luck in France, where the preferred toast is the informal “á ta santé!” which means “to your health!” And, in reality, that’s what you get when you have a relaxing drink that won’t unduly stress your budget. At Bistro On Main, Happy Hour well drinks are $5 as are select wines and the cocktail du jour, which in our case was a Chocolate Martini (made with New Amsterdam vodka, Crème de Cacao and milk). Of course, it was delicious (c’mon, it’s chocolate!)!
Suzanne and I had one Chocolate Martini each before diverging in our drink choices. She opted for the Naughty Nurse IPA ($5), which she rated highly, and I chose a well bourbon (Four Roses) and water (a 50/50 mix since I planned on having a glass of the Happy Hour red wine as well). Both drinks, as well as my wine, were enjoyable. I would, however, like to see Bistro On Main feature a few more special cocktails for Happy Hour, since they have some very intriguing options on the regular menu. It would be a great opportunity to further display their mixology creativity as well as complement their extraordinary Happy Hour food offerings.
“Délicieux plats de bar“ Is French For Delicious Bar Food,
But Rich Flavor Speaks A Universal Language
Under normal circumstances, I look at the drinks as the stars of Happy Hour, although good Happy Hour food is also important. At Bistro On Main, the Happy Hour menu selections were the main attraction! My friend Suzanne and I started off by sharing the $8 Escargot (Roasted snails with garlic herb butter) and the $6 Truffle Fries. Both were simply outstanding. While I had tried snail salad (and liked it) many years ago, this was the first time I had tried Escargot, and it was amazing with an interesting texture and an irresistible flavor. At the same time, the seemingly endless Truffle Fries were light and oh so addicting.
Since everything was so good (and as a reviewer I like to be thorough), we tried two more selections from the Happy Hour menu – Salmon Rolls ($8) plus Mussels & Fries ($6). The three Salmon Rolls consisted of pieces of smoked salmon rolled up with arugula, microgreens and a rouille sauce. They disappeared very quickly.
The Mussels & Fries came in a large iron skillet with meaty mussels in a rich coconut red curry sauce that was to die for and topped with a huge mound of light, flavorful French fries. Together with the drinks, they provided the perfect accompaniment for spending quality time with a dear friend.
According to their web site, Bistro On Main is committed to using the freshest, highest quality ingredients from local, sustainable sources. From what we ate, I have no reason at all to doubt the veracity of that commitment. Based on my Happy Hour experience, I definitely want to return to Bistro On Main sometime soon for dinner. (As an aside, French bistros are noted for serving their version of comfort food. If this is French comfort food, then all I can say is “Viva la France!”)
Okay, so pardon my French, literally, but it seemed appropriate as a way of saying that Bistro on Main has easily earned my highest rating of ***UNIQUELY RECOMMENDED***! The atmosphere, service, drink menu and fabulous food, as well as its unique mission, elevate Bistro On Main to a unique level for Friday Happy Hour.
I totally recommend that you visit their web site at bistro-on-main.com to learn more and then check them out this coming Friday for Happy Hour to judge for yourself!
Tell them The Dark Diva sent you!