1491 Front St., Manchester, N.H.There are a lot of reasons for a trip to your local country club this summer, but instead of whacking a golf ball 80 or 90 — or, OK, 100 — times around the course in the hot sun, a visit to one of the very good restaurants at our Granite State courses might be time better spent.
Indeed, bogeys, three-putts and errant drives into the woods can be frustrating, but going out for lunch or dinner at one of scores of picturesque golf locations around the state could be far more relaxing.
Thus, Our Gourmet and some trusted dining companions will be visiting a few local clubs this summer, looking for the foodie’s version of a day well-spent at the links.
All decent courses have refreshments, some with better food than others, and reputable ones have menus that go well beyond burgers, beer and hot dogs. Then there are those that feature Sunday brunch, full dinner menus, banquet facilities, or simply darned good food during mostly daylight and evening hours.
We begin this summer’s tour with a trip to the 11th Hole Bar & Grill at Intervale Country Club, where we were greeted with the news that Sunday brunch at the riverside nine-holer is now reserved for special occasions and banquets. Sadly, the expansive spread on Sunday mornings, on which we’ve reported in the past, is no longer a regular event. But, no matter. There is enough on the regular lunch menu to satisfy any diner (or golfer) looking for more than hot dogs from the steamer.
The 11th Hole proprietors, who are new at the course in the last couple of years, offer several dining options for golfers and other patrons, and the menu selections are adequate, if not extensive, listed of course under headings such as The Sand Trap, The Approach, The Green and Casual Water.
Golfers mostly gather in the bar, with tables for eating and watching TVs; others like the screened porch on the north side of the building, within a chip shot of the ninth green, for drinks and sandwiches. Still others favor the small patio on the east side of the modest clubhouse,where four umbrella tables provide shelter from the hot afternoon sun. Within a very short approach shot is the refreshing sight of the Merrimack River, with its wildlife and boaters. Very peaceful back there.
We enjoyed a leisurely riverside lunch with just a few other outside diners one sunny Sunday past, and the food, while not over-the-top remarkable, was certainly worth it.
Three formidable sandwiches and a large order of onion rings satisfied our mid-day cravings, along with ice-cold beverages from the bar — iced tea and soda on this early afternoon. We left the pitchers of beer for the golfers’ solace.
The Reuben on grilled rye bread ($8.25) was a small mountain of corned beef with sauerkraut, and a smidge of thousand island dressing. We would have liked more dressing, but the accompaniment for the rings served the bill. The Reuben was a hearty and filling lunch for anyone, if they were to finish it, but we suspect many might save a half for later or the next day’s lunch.
The 11th Hole’s French Dip sandwich ($9.50) was a simple but tasty lunch entree. A toasted white roll with melted swiss cheese and plenty of thin-sliced roasted beef next to a cup of warm au jus could have been a good winter warmer, but cooled by a good beverage and complemented by potato chips and the pickles extracted from the Reuben, it was just fine on a summery afternoon.
The star sandwich of the table was the simple BLT ($5.75) — and a bargain to boot. Piled high with fresh-cooked bacon, and loaded with lettuce and tomato on a choice of six breads, this was one of the better looking and better tasting pub sandwiches we’ve had in a while. Perhaps a bit too messy and bulky to wolf down aboard a golf cart in between nines.
Onion rings, pickles, potato chips and condiments of choice put the finishing touch to a luncheon spread worthy of larger and heavily-promoted restaurants, but the riverside locale, fast service and tastiness of the food makes the 11th Hole one that many might rather play first.