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May 18. 2012 8:28PM

Restaurant Week promises great food, good times


Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner George Bald digs into hors d'oeuvres at the reception to kick off Restaurant Week at the State Library in Concord on Friday. (DAVID LANE / UNION LEADER)


Officials cut a pasta ribbon signaling the start of New Hampshire Restaurant Week during a ceremony at the State Library in Concord on Friday. (DAVID LANE / UNION LEADER)


Chair Tom Boucher speaks during a kick-off reception for Restaurant Week at the State Library in Concord on Friday. (DAVID LANE / UNION LEADER)

CONCORD — Get ready to live free and dine, New Hampshire.

Special guests, state officials and local dignitaries were given a taste of the first-ever statewide Restaurant Week in New Hampshire Friday, at the event's official opening ceremony inside the State Library in Concord. The kickoff featured remarks from New Hampshire Commissioner of Cultural Resources Van McLeod, a pasta-ribbon cutting by Economic Development Commissioner George Bald, along with event organizers — and plenty of food served up by some of Restaurant Week's Celebrity Chefs.

“We are very excited that this day is here,” said Tom Boucher, owner and CEO of Great NH Restaurants and chairman of the Restaurant Week NH organizing committee. “It's been 16 months in the making. We have over 150 restaurants, all around the state, taking part. The really great part is there are all different levels of dining — people will be able to find a level of pricing they are comfortable with, and get out there and try something new. If there's a place people have been waiting to try, this is the opportunity to get out here and try it.”

Restaurant Week in New Hampshire is designed to get residents and visitors to the state to “try something new,” as its slogan states. Participating eateries will serve three-course price-fixed menus to patrons looking for deals at restaurants they've never tried before. The eight-day event, which runs through May 25, is hosted by the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association (NHLRA), and showcases restaurants throughout the Granite State offering lunch and/or dinner items at three price levels.

Though the event is in its inaugural year, organizers say over 150 restaurants and hotels across the state are taking part. They include: More than 45 restaurants and hotels in southern New Hampshire;

Over 25 restaurants and lodging properties in the Lakes Region; 18 restaurants on the Seacoast; 16 properties in the Monadnock/Sunapee areas; and 18 properties in the White Mountains.

Participating restaurants in Manchester include 900 degrees, the Airport Diner, Cactus Jack's Great West Grill, Cotton, Fratello's Italian Grille, the Hanover Street Chophouse, Margaritas, Shorty's, The Yard, Theo's Pizza and Unwine'd.

“One of the goals of this is to boost New Hampshire's image as a destination for dining,” said Mike Somers, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association. “There was a survey done of visitors to the state, and one of the findings was what did they like about their visit. And on the list was things like the mountains, the Seacoast, and way down the list was dining. We're putting a full-court press behind this, and we have huge support from the industry.”

Throughout Restaurant Week, participating restaurants are offering three levels of pricing. Visitors to the RestaurantWeekNH.com website will notice businesses listed with one, two or three forks next to their names. One fork means the restaurant offers a $10 lunch and $15 dinner. Two forks means a $15 lunch, and $25 dinner. Three forks means a $20 lunch, $35 dinner and all three-course meals.

“New Hampshire has some really great chefs, and some really good food, and it's nice that it's finally being recognized for that,” said Adam Parker, executive chef at the Indian Head Resort in Lincoln and one of Restaurant Week's Celebrity Chefs. “All the chefs here do a great job, and every restaurant is offering great deals. I'm excited to be a part of it.”

The New Hampshire Union Leader is a media partner of Restaurant Week NH.

For information about the event, visit RestaurantWeekNH.com.


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