Last week, feeling the early whispers of spring, we wrote about light, refreshing, summery frozen yogurt, which – come on – is tasty year-round. But we all know the New England winter moves out gradually, and early April can still be gusty and chilly. Hence, a short retreat this week to a warm and tasty place: the gastropub. The word “gastropub” was coined in 1991 by two British restaurateurs to describe a bar that has moved into serving high-end food. Here is a small sample of our favorites in New England.
Rothbard Ale + Larder, 90 Post Road East, Westport, CT — Located in the town’s Main Street district, Rothbard Ale + Larder is a European gastropub that specializes in the food and beverages of Central Europe, Alsace, Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland. Food is heavy and spicy in the Germanic sense. The apps, for instance, include a pickle bowl, schweinekrusten (pork rinds), wieners + kraut. On the main menu, find schnitzel, duck poutine, kielbasa, weisswurst, bratwurst, garlic sausage, red cabbage, sour cream, pickles and pretzels. Plenty of cooling beers of all kinds. There’s a kids menu, and menus for brunch, craft beers, and wines. Menus. Map. 203-557-9666.
Walrus + Carpenter, 2895 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport, CT — Located in Black Rock, an old waterfront neighborhood in Bridgeport, Walrus + Carpenter was founded with the inspiration of to serve Southern-inspired smoked meats and meals, along with carefully selected American craft beers, wines and liquors. This is an independent, family-owned and operated establishment. Pick your night to visit carefully and you may be in for live music, like bluegrass, Beatles, Dead Jams – or … see the website. Connecticut publications have crowed over the Walrus’s excellent barbecue, in all forms, and its Sunday brunch. Near the Fairfield Metro Station. Menu. Map. 203-333-2733 [Photo: Beet and Blossom Photography]
The Block Saloon, 173 Main Street, Thomaston, Maine — The Block Saloon occupies a solid old Main Street building that originated as a saloon in the 1860s. Today, guests enjoy The Block’s pleasant interior, wqith custom lighting and historic photos; delicious small plates, including an excellent pizza, which change regularly; interesting cocktails; and quick and friendly service. The Block has provided a wake-up for downtown Thomaston, located on Route 1 and a short, easy drive from Camden, Rockland and Rockport, Maine. Menu. Map. 207-354-5145. [ Photo: Jo Silver]
Little Tap House, 106 High Street, Portland, Maine — Much of the press coverage of Little Tap House focuses on its big selection of Maine craft beers, starting with Allagash, possibly the first among equals and purportedly one of the best purveyors of Belgian-style beer in the country. The interior space is rustic and casual; light from very big windows brighten the painted brick walls and high-top tables modeled after beer barrels. This is a neighborhood joint that welcomes all beer lovers. The 4-7 p.m. Bar & Barrel Happy Hour offers a craft beer pint and mini appetizer for $5. The pub-style menu is solid. Menu. Map. 207-747-4089.
Goodfella’s, Route 2, Danville, VT– GoodFella’s is a longstanding favorite of local people and it welcomes everyone to a casual environment where you can spend time with friends or make new ones. The pub-style menu covers a lot of ground, from Prince Edward Island mussels to the Ver-Monte Cristo Sandwich. Also, maple scallops, of course. Next to the VAST trails. ; this casual restaurant and tavern is where you will see old friends and make new ones. Enjoy the outside deck in warm weather; in the snow seasons, keep in mind that Goodfella’s is located right near trails of the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST). Menu. Map. 802-748-4249.
District Kitchen & Bar, 40 West Street, Pittsfield, MA — District Kitchen & Bar describes its food at “contemporary American cuisine with gastropub influences.” However the words are lined up, guests cannot find enough good things to say about the food. The salmon in particular, gets big applause (“cooked to perfection”). The cheese plate is packed with local products, including fresh bread and jams. All dishes at the District are prepares in-house and to-order. Because of its reputation, guests may find themselves waiting awhile to be seated, but the service is professional and on-target. District’s sister restaurant is PUBLIC eat+drink in North Adams. Food menu. Drinks menu. Map. 413-442-0303.
The Salty Pig, 130 Dartmouth Street, Boston, MA — True to its name, this gastropub in Boston’s Back Bay specializes in charcuterie – these meats and cheeses are the star of the show. You may watch chefs prepare your pizza (including the pig parts pizza) in the oven of an open kitchen, which leads immediate warmth and cheer to the entire restaurant space. The atmosphere is casual-to- upscale casual. Fresh, seasonal ingredients are rotated to make the stone-grilled pizzas, hand made pastas and Italian entrees. The Salty Pig’s bar features Old World wines, American craft beer and specialty cocktails. Menu. Map. 617-536-6200.
Congress Tavern, 62 Orange Street, Providence, RI — Old-school stylish, relaxed, and not hipsterish, Congress Tavern serves up good, solid pub food, beers and specialty cocktails. The service is uniformly quick, friendly, and expert. Some first-time visitors find this old-fashioned resource before or after attending shows at the Providence Performing Arts Center. Visitors praise the chicken parm, biscotti, lobster nachos, fish tacos, and more. This place is likely to be busy at lunchtime and you might be looking at a bit of wait time. Outdoor seating is nice for good-weather seasons. Map. 401-455-0032.
The Crown Tavern, 99 Hanover Street, Manchester, NH — The Crown Tavern is a fresh take on New England’s “publick houses.” Opened in 2017 as part of the Queen City’s renaissance, The Crown occupies the space of an old movie theater. It has an outdoor patio for fine-weather fun, so you can enjoy nights in the neighborhood under the glow of festival lights. Ramp up an evening of beverages with inventive wood-fired pizzas, wood-oven mac and cheese, lobster rolls, all kinds of salads and chowders, and a raw bar. Founding principles of The Crown’s owners are “never forget where you came from, and never forget where you came to eat.” Menu. Map. 603-218-3132.
Revolution Taproom and Grill, 61 North Main Street, Rochester, NH–This independently owned and -operated farm-to-table gastropub offers 44 craft beers on tap and a bourbon bar. The menu changes seasonally and has many very intriguing items, like baby kale & heirloom squash, duck fat popcorn, chorizo spiced cauliflower wings, sushi grade tuna, bao pork sliders, chiccharron nachos, coconut steamed mussels, and smoked cod and squid chowder. There’s a loft space for casual dining with full menu, a private bar, billiards tables, darts, sofas and club chairs. Enjoy live music every evening Thursday through Saturday. Voted 2017 Best of the Seacoast. Menu. Map. 603-244-3022.