Brunch at the course: Who needs golf?
Divots on the RiverIntervale Country Club
1491 Front St., Manchester
Serving: Monday-Wednesday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday Jazz Brunch 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with live music
In this case it was the Merrimack, and a sunny Sunday morning was made even more sparkling by the service, atmosphere and gourmet food served up while a smooth musician played soft rock and jazz in the background.
Our Gourmet: Non-golfers who like to tend a home garden will appreciate the lush, manicured grounds of Intervale Country Club. Add the wide and lovely expanse of the bustling Merrimack, just a stone's throw east and it's an outdoor spot that's ideal for enjoying any nice, late spring morning — even if there wasn't a brunch feast awaiting inside. Diners can choose the grill room (filled with golfers on this Sunday morning), the brunch room, a wide expanse of cloth table-topped settings, a screened porch just behind the ninth green, or an open-air patio deck as close to the river as the hillside will allow. It's nice with a capital N. 9/10
The Dining Companion: Breakfast at Divots could be the ultimate distraction — from golf! Players who might arrive early and have breakfast could be persuaded to skip the aggravation of chunked chips and missed putts and remain inside near the buffet and wind their way through a leisurely and delicious meal while enjoying the morning and family conversation, with the New Hampshire Sunday News on the side. Indeed, the heck with golf. Spend a couple of hours attending to a truly stress-free meal at your pace in a sparkling clean, sun-washed breakfast room with a river breeze wafting through and your day will be very well launched. There's a Bloody Mary bar, too, so do you really want to walk a mile or two chasing a dumb little ball into a dumb little hole? 9/10
OG: After ordering a Bloody Mary (the “bar” part is that you can add whatever you want for vegetables and spices), coffee and orange juice, we perused the buffet. Inside the steaming self-serve trays are all manner of prepared breakfasts to satisfy any palate, plus some gourmet extras. There also is a section for kids with cereal and candy and other items. Then there's a beautiful mountain of fresh pastries accompanied by chilled, sliced fruit, breakfast breads, strawberries in syrup and fresh blueberries and whipped cream toppings. Not enough? Try a custom-made omelet from the chef at the next table, or a couple of thick cooked-toorder mini Belgian Waffles. All that for $11.99, return trips unlimited. We had no children in tow this weekend, but I suspect some hungry teenagers and 20-somethings could put on a spectacular, seven- or eight-plate performance. 9/10
TDC: With inspiration from the creators of the Red Arrow Diner and Ignite Bar and Grille, there is a quality and custom touch to even the eggs and other standard breakfast fare at Divots. But when I came down the buffet line to steamed mussels and herbed, marsala-style chicken, I nearly checked my plate to start over in reverse order. I held that thought, until plate No. 2, and first enjoyed bacon, some country-style fried potatoes and a small cheese and spinach omelet. There is a ton of food to choose from, so I advise going slowly, perusing all available options, and planning the portions with digestion in mind in order to maximize the benefit and the Sunday afternoon comfort level (while you watch golf on TV). 9/10
OG: I planned well. There was no rush; there was no hot food left to cool on my plate; no cold food cutting into any time or attention I paid to any hot food; the Bloody Mary was there throughout the meal; and I did not over-serve myself. I enjoyed a tasty apple danish with a small bowl of fruit to start. Then, after a little coffee, some icy cold water and a belt of the Bloody, and I was ready for some eggs and bacon and potatoes — all hot, moist and not overcooked — and half a slice of French Toast, enjoyed leisurely while my well-done mini Belgians were cooking. With my eggs I had a dollop of corned beef hash, just to taste it (outstanding!) and maple syrup on half the French Toast and syrupy strawberries on the other half. My plate was just-that-moment clean and whisked away when the waffles arrived. They were hot and slightly crispy as I enjoy them, and a quick supplemental trip back to the buffet afforded me a few extra slices of extra bacon with the Belgians. The slightest drawback, and it is trivial on the whole, was the butter and syrup in little plastic tubs. But the butter was not cold and hard like so many are in those containers, and the syrup was passable. Fresh butter and light maple syrup would put Divots over the top. 8/10
TDC: Americans slam down breakfasts on the go (or at the drive-through at an alarming rate) and it is remarkable to sit and eat leisurely, with enjoyment, that which we so often gulp. I so thoroughly enjoyed my brunch, OG and I are going to hunt for brunch spots and try to make a nice Sunday morning out of the meal. My omelet was cooked to perfection, with slices of mushrooms and fresh spinach folded into the cheesy bulk of a gently turned, two-egg meal that is so much better when it is cooked right in front of you and put immediately on your plate at table. Divots offers a wide array of omelet ingredients, all freshly sliced and displayed at the omelet/ waffle bar. After my starter plate, I returned to the buffet for mussels and chicken, saving room for a bowl of fruit for dessert. Mussels and skillet chicken might be off the menu for many at breakfast, but the gourmet feel of the Divots restaurant experience put it squarely on mine, and it was superb. 9/10
OG: Despite the crowds of cars, the overwhelming majority of Intervale customers were golfers, so the function room was not even half full, and we enjoyed top-flight service from several of the waitresses on duty. Coffee cups were kept full, plates were spirited away quickly, and the convivial atmosphere was enlivened by Cathy, our server, who was friendly and talkative with a cheerful smile and gracious attention to detail. She re-set a table by the window when we arrived, for the maximum ambiance, and filled us in on all things Divots, the buffet and the restaurant. She completed what was a most pleasant dining experience.
All the rest 17/20
TDC: There is far more than the Sunday brunch at Divots. Fish and chips, grilled reubens, a French dip and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches fill out the lunch menu in addition to several specialty burgers, and the dinner menu boasts sauteed chicken tenders, specialty Italian chicken and seafood plates, seasoned tilapia, New York strip and ribeye steaks. Plus, there's calamari and mussels and a great selection of salads. The regular breakfast menu offers all the usual suspects of egg and toast breakfasts, plus sausage gravy over biscuits.The music in the brunch room is a nice touch. We failed to get the name of the musician, but his melodic, drifting, soft sound was soothing and classy and low-key — just right for that time of day, and did not seem out of place at all just a chip shot away from all the golfers in the grill room. All in all, great food, a very good atmosphere and outstanding value at Divots for those Sunday mornings when you want to notice — and thoroughly enjoy — your first meal of the day.
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