Our Gourmet: Beachfront fun at Laconia's NazBarAugust 08. 2017 11:35PM
NazBar & GrillAt the Naswa Resort, 1086 Weirs Blvd., Laconia; 366-4341; naswa.com/the-nazbar-grill
Hours: Open seven days 11 a.m.-close.
Cuisine: Beach bar food.
Pricing: Starters & Salads $9-$15;
Handicap access: Hills, stairs, beach
Scores for NazBar:
Back in Grandpa’s day, the Naswa Resort was just one of the many motels that line Weirs Boulevard in Laconia. While it’s still a motel, today it justifiably bills itself as a resort, with amenities including a high-end restaurant, a beach and a fun waterfront bar and grill along the Weirs Channel.
We were in the Lakes Region on a recent Saturday, and we remembered that the Naswa had been on our list of dining destinations for quite a while.
The main restaurant is the Blue Bistro, which serves a full dinner menu in an upscale environment, as well as breakfast catering to motel guests. We gave its menu a once-over as we entered the building, and decided that we were up for a more casual and less expensive dining experience.
We headed downstairs to the waterfront and the NazBar, which was hopping on this early Saturday evening. Where the upstairs vibe is polo shirts, candlelight and piano, the NazBar is swim trunks, tiki lights and DJ.
The eating and drinking area is a long tent on the waterfront, with dozens of tables parked in the sand. The Naswa’s big dock for boat-in diners stretches out into the channel, making the tent a prime spot for boat watching.
The NazBar’s menu includes appetizers, salads and sandwiches. Most evenings, patrons can also choose from a limited selection of dishes from the Blue Bistro’s menu. Our server explained that the Blue menu is taken away when the bistro kitchen gets too busy to handle orders from its own guests and the beach crowd as well. Lucky for us, we arrived in time to have both menus available.
Many of the NazBar menu items have a tropical or Asian theme. Such was the case with our starter, Tuna Nachos ($12.99). Without the menu description, you might imagine scoops of tuna salad on a pile of nacho chips. Thanks to the description, though, I couldn’t wait to try this exotic combination of ahi tuna, seaweed salad and ginger soy dressing.
Unlike many nacho appetizers, this wasn’t a massive pile. In fact, it was a plate of three two- or three-bite pieces. Each piece was a carefully constructed assembly starting with a crispy wonton wrapper, followed by the seaweed salad: bright green strands tossed in the wonderfully sweet/salty/tangy ginger soy dressing. Little cubes of rare tuna dotted the top of each piece, and a nice head-clearing wasabi sauce was drizzled all around, there if you wanted it, but easy to avoid if you didn’t.
It was a terrific appetizer that left us wanting more. And in retrospect, had we known the relatively delicate size of the tuna nachos compared to standard nachos, we would have ordered more, or at least a second app. Live and learn.
For her entree, Mrs. Gourmet picked a sandwich from the NazBar menu: the Kickin’ Chicken ($12.99). This was a spice-rubbed, blackened chicken breast topped with tomato purée, a salsa of black beans and corn, on a slightly sweet, lightly toasted brioche roll. Curly fries and pickles came on the side. It was a good sandwich, nicely presented, with a kick of spiciness from the seasoning made milder with the dill aioli and fresh greens that were also within the bun.
Since the Blue Bistro selections were still available, I decided to try one. There were a total of seven dishes listed; one “Small Plate” and six “Blue Plates.” The latter ranged in price from $24 (blackened salmon) to $46 (twin stuffed lobster), all a bit rich for my budget and appetite.
Instead, I ordered the small plate, Lobster and Bacon Sliders ($20). What I just said about budget and appetizer notwithstanding, I probably would have ordered this dish had it been on the Blue Plate list and cost $15 more — how can you go wrong putting bacon and lobster together?
This dish turned out to be a generous scoop of lobster meat — all claws (my favorite) — piled atop slices of bacon on two small brioche rolls. A broccoli slaw decorated the center of the long rectangular plate on which the sliders were served. The concept was great, and the presentation was terrific, but I found myself wishing for some mayonnaise (or, if I really wanted to press my luck, some melted butter). The little sandwiches were tasty, but on the dry side.
The NazBar is a great spot to hang out on a nice summer afternoon or evening. We should mention access, though: The resort is a rambling place, with several wings and buildings perched on a lakeside hill. The main parking area for the restaurants is further up the hill and across the busy Weirs Boulevard. Primary access to the beachfront is through the lobby and down a long flight of stairs. And the sand on which the tables and chairs sit could make for difficult footing for people with mobility issues.
NazBar is as much nightspot as restaurant, and the size and style of the menu reflect that. But if you’re in the Lakes Region and looking for a fun place for a light al fresco dinner and drinks in these last weeks of summer, the NazBar is worth a visit.