The Foundry Restaurant touts itself as the “largest certified Farm to Table restaurant in New Hampshire,” a concept anyone who reviews restaurants would most certainly embrace.
Until recently, my Lovely Dining Companion and I just remembered it as the place that cooked our “medium rare” burger all the way through and didn’t have a glass of wine on the menu that was cheaper than $12.
That was several years ago, not long after the Millyard restaurant owned by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen first opened in the riverfront space that had been formerly occupied by a sports bar.
Back then, most of the word-of-mouth reviews we received from friends and colleagues ranged from “overpriced” to “meh.” The Our Gourmet reviewer in 2015 was largely positive, however, praising the duck breast and grilled ribeye, and awarding it a score of 84.
We waited far too long to give The Foundry another try. We had heard for some time that the restaurant’s Sunday brunch was superb. Our experience one recent Saturday exceeded our expectations in every way, from the quality and presentation of the dishes to the careful attention by the waitstaff.
We were also reminded of the great care Kamen’s staff put into the decor, which is decorated with historical artifacts from Manchester’s industrial past.
Like most restaurants in New Hampshire, The Foundry has persevered during the pandemic, having experienced mandated closures and learning to rely more on takeout (which the restaurant discounts by 20% on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.)
It was enjoying brisk business the night we visited, so much so that our waitress was careful to tell us to place our orders promptly so that we would have time to enjoy our food during the 90-minute window allotted for each party.
Despite that COVID-era restriction, the vibe was as close to normal as we’ve experienced lately in a dine-in restaurant. A musician was strumming a guitar and performing cover tunes in the bar. We could hear just enough from our table in the dining room to want to venture over that way after we finished our for some live entertainment.
In the meantime, my dining companion chose a Grey Goose cosmo martini ($14) and I selected the Marg margarita ($13) to start.
She paired her cocktail with a cup of clam chowder ($10), while I chose the crab cakes ($15.)
The clam chowder was as good as any we’ve tried in New Hampshire — rich, creamy and a healthy portion of clams. The crab cakes were the best we’ve had in ages. The two lightly battered Jonah crab meat cakes sat atop napa cabbage slaw and were accented with Meyer lemon aioli, which was swirled around the two cakes. An order of these and a salad would make a fine meal for one person.
For our entrees, my dining companion chose the Mediterranean Haddock ($26), a filet cooked with shallots, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, capers, basil and white wine pan sauce. The fish was tender and well served by the white wine sauce.
I selected the Caramelized Sea Scallops ($33), which were pan-seared a golden brown. They were served with potato puree, arugula, cipollini onions, black truffle sauce and a small pile of crispy battered onion slices. Despite already sampling crab cakes, chowder and fresh bread, I left not a bite on this plate. I was in farm-to-table nirvana.
Now that we’re more familiar with The Foundry’s menu, we know we can revisit the restaurant to dine on appetizers or sandwiches if we don’t want to spring for a pricier night out.
For this level of cuisine, the prices were certainly fair, but it’s good to know we could try a Kimchi Reuben ($15) or a Foundry Burger ($16) for a more casual experience.