It was a little over a year ago that I discovered The Riverhouse Cafe on the oval in Milford, N.H. It was spring, and Gretchen, my accountant/business manager/accounts payable/fiance were getting out and about more and looking for a new breakfast place that was local and had that small town cozy feel to it. What we found in The Riverhouse Cafe was that and so much more, from the beautiful view of the river, to the old timey diner counter, to the small town New England feel inside, it immediately become “our place.” But the best part of The Riverhouse Cafe has always been the food. Its what I’ve termed “rustic gourmet”, amazing natural flavors with big city presentation, all with an eye towards local sustainability and a farm to table mentality.
The Riverhouse Cafe has always been our breakfast spot, but a few weeks back, I heard whispers of the “D” word… Dinner. Quietly, patiently behind the scenes the owner / chef of The Riverhouse Cafe was making plans and testing recipes for a new venture, a dinner service at The Riverhouse Cafe. We were thrilled because if they can do breakfast as amazing as they do, imagine what dinner would be like there?! We marked our calendar and when “opening day” came around, we grabbed the camera and our appetites and headed down for the first dinner service at The Riverhouse Cafe.
We started with a pair of appetizers or “starters”, I chose the french onion soup and Gretchen chose the house made fried mozzarella. I’m going to start with the fried mozzarella, because you may think you’ve had fried mozzarella but you haven’t had anything like this. First off, it really is “house made”, its one large piece of velvety delicious mozzarella cheese, coated in what I believe was a panko bread crumb like mixture, crunchy, crisp yet the cheese on the inside was perfectly melted. There was not even a hint of oil on the plate. Its topped with a fresh tomato salad, with fresh basil, garden ripe tomatoes, and just a hint of garlic. I could have ordered the tomato salad all by itself, it was just that good. Finally, the entire dish was finished with a piece of fried prosciutto, which was out of this world. I’ve never had that before. The french onion soup was absolutely perfect. The soup itself was perfectly seasoned, with a very subtle, mild onion flavor, which was not overpowering and not overly filling. Topped with homemade croutons and generous portion of melted cheese, it was hands down, the best onion soup I have ever had.
For entrees it was not an easy choice, every dish on the menu sounded delicious, so we decided we had to start somewhere and work our way through the menu visit by visit. For today we chose the pan roasted rosemary maple pork chop and the black and blue burger. The pork chop was enormous! This was a thick bone in porkchop with some serious size to it. Being a former chef, I know that pork is not easy to cook, getting the temp right and maintaining that juicy flavor is a task all on its on, but its even more challenging when you have a thick cut pork chop like this one. Right as we cut into it, we knew it was cooked perfectly, the juices ran right out as we cut into it. The true surprise to this dish though was the sauce. It was a maple sauce obviously made with NH made maple syrup, and we kept trying to soak up every bit of the sauce with ever bite. We both commented that we wish the dish had come with a little side ramiken of sauce to dip in, so we’ll be sure to ask for that next time. Now I know with all the amazing dishes on the new dinner menu, why would we go for a burger? Every time we go in for breakfast, we always comment that we should come for lunch and try one of the burgers, these are fresh locally sourced burgers, they don’t come in frozen like bricks. The Riverhouse Cafe is all about local fresh ingredients, and that is one of the reasons why their food is so amazing. The burger defiantly showed why local is the only way to go for ingredients, the flavor of the burger was out of this world, I didn’t put catchup or anything on it, that’s has amazing the flavor of the beef was. Served on a soft toasted brioche bun, once you try one of these burgers, you will never eat at a chain restaurant again.
The other great part of our meal was something that wasn’t on the menu, and that is the view. Downtown Milford, N.H., and the Milford Oval are historic, beautiful, classic New England sights. From the band stand to the town hall where my father worked as the town administrator of Milford for over 20 years, its just so relaxing to sit there, next to those big windows at The Riverhouse Cafe and just look out at a beautiful small town. You don’t feel rushed, you don’t feel hurried, its a throwback to the way things used to be, a simpler time when people took a moment to enjoy the world around them. That is what The Riverhouse Cafe has always given us, not just great food, but even greater memories.