Our Gourmet: Grab a bite, see the game
Downtown Manchester is dotted with several casual dining establishments, but you can't miss J.W. Hill's. Located on the corner of Elm and Merrimack, it's in a historic Pembroke Building on the corner across from the Verizon Wireless Arena. Once home to Hill's dry goods store, it's now one of the city's best-known sports bars.
J.W. Hill's menu is what you'd expect to find at any of the area sports bars, with the addition of pizzas and salads. There are a few surprises on the menu like the Roasted Tomato Spinach Dip, Pulled Pork Sandwich and Shrimp Scampi, but for the most part, J.W. Hill's is serving pub fare that pairs well with beer and a football game.
Our Gourmet: The only possible way you can make macaroni and cheese better is to have it breaded and deep-fried. That's what you get when you order the Mac N Cheese Bites. ($7.99) They were crispy on the outside and hot and cheesy-gooey on the inside. It was all I could do not to eat the entire basket. I did manage to save a few to have the next day and reheated they were just as delicious. 9/10
TDC: I had the Basket of Wings ($8.49). There are five different styles to choose from, including plain, BBQ, teriyaki, hot honey garlic and Buffalo, with slight variations in price. I ordered the BBQ wings, which come lathered in a sweet sauce and are served with plenty of napkins and wet wipes. They were meaty, messy and delicious. The wings are deep-fried, making them crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. My only regret is that I couldn't try them in every flavor. 9/10
OG: I usually like to order a full entrée when dining out, but this time around I ordered a sandwich instead (I think I may have eaten too many Mac N Cheese Bites). I chose the Hill's Hot Beef Dip Roast Beef and melted Swiss cheese on a warm sub roll served with a horseradish aioli and onion au jus dipping sauce ($9.99). The meat was a bit chewy and there definitely wasn't enough of it, but the roll was fresh and the horseradish aioli added a kick. The french fries served with the sandwich were perfectly cooked. 6/10
TDC: I had the Tenders 'N Tips ($13.99). If you don't want to choose between chicken and steak, this is a great compromise. The meal is served with a choice of french fries, mashed or mashed sweet potatoes, and comes with coleslaw and a biscuit. This is a well-rounded meal with good portions. The steak tips are seared on the outside and lightly seasoned for a subtle flavor boost. The chicken tenders are served with honey mustard as a dipping sauce. They are crisp, which I like, but not very meaty, especially in contrast to the wings. 7/10
OG: I was in the mood for a piece of fruit pie. I was disappointed that their seasonal pie selection was no longer blueberry pie, but I opted to go with the apple pie. The crust was flaky but the apple filling was a bit sweet for my taste. J.W. Hill's gets points for warming up the pie before serving. ($4.99) (7/10)
TDC: I had the Peanut Butter Cup Pie ($5.99). I've never had anything quite like it. The outside is a thick, dark chocolate with peanut butter as its main base and chunks of chocolate mixed throughout. The dessert serves as further proof that chocolate and peanut butter, while good alone, are much better together. (8/10)
Final thoughts: 24/30
You can't beat J.W. Hill's location, especially if you are lucky enough to score a seat next to the expansive windows, or if you are on your way to see a Monarchs game next door. There's also plenty of room and TVs if you are stopping by there to see the Patriots game. J.W. Hill's offers several drink and game specials throughout the week and a happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. It pays to check out their promotions and events calendar to see what they are offering that day. There are several other restaurants in the downtown area you can choose from for dinner, but if you are looking to kick back and throw one back at a sports bar, this is the place to be.