Garwoods offers good food, ambiance
It's easy to while away your time in Wolfeboro during summer, watching the boats, watching the people, watching out for presidential candidates, swimming in the lakes, relaxing and choosing from among a bevy of good restaurants.
We visited Garwoods on Main Street recently, our first time there, and can now add another spot to our list of favorites among the area's fine dining establishments.
Our Gourmet: “Lakeside plush” is the phrase that comes to mind inside Garwoods, where the boating motif is ever dominant. Longboat oars adorn the walls, and deep, rich, polished wood and nautical lights add sparkle under the low-slung ceiling. Inside, dozens of tables are backed by floor-to-ceiling glass overlooking the outdoor deck dining area — and Wolfeboro's corner of Lake Winnipesaukee which, notwithstanding other nearby peaceful, smaller lakes, is the whole reason to be there. 9/10
The Dining Companion: Garwoods sets a nice tone immediately. Its small storefront entrance on Main Street belies the size of the place. It's long and only slightly narrow, stretching from the sidewalk out front to Winni water out back.
Inside, plush carpet and cloth table settings set off the nicely appointed dining area, and the cocktail lounge features polished brass hand- and foot-rails, of course. Ship lights and nautical prints are everywhere; boat shoes are not required. 8/10
OG: The dinner menu is thoroughly nautical as well, featuring fresh oysters, shrimp, scallops and a wide selection of gourmet-prepared seafood. But we were here for lunch, and pleased to find a good selection of lighter fare for the noonday meal. Salads and burgers and all manner of sandwiches are available, most around $12, except the burgers, which start under $10. The wine list is expansive, with bottles ranging from $24 to $95. Appetizers, around $10, run to a regular list, but one specialty appetizer would be great to share with guests before dinner — Mexican Seafood Cocktail ($14.99), featuring shrimp and lump crab in a spicy cocktail sauce with tomato, roasted chilies, olives, cilantro and avocado. 8/10
TDC: Kids at Garwoods get to order from a little skippers menu, but adults can enjoy chowder, lobster bisque, French onion soup and fried calamari, and that's only the beginning. Other items that caught our eyes included Kobe Beef Pops ($8.99), on the starters list, which looked so good it nearly became my meal — American Kobe beef meatballs with bleu cheese and bacon. Also tempting was the fish tacos ($12.99) with beer-battered haddock with a cilantro slaw and roasted jalapeno peppers, and lime tartar sauce. But the salads and specials menus also wooed us. Diners looking for any taste fare very well here. 9/10
Sandwiches & Salads 16/20
OG: Creative sandwiches stand out on the menu, besides fish and chips ($13.99), fish tacos ($12.99) and a steak & cheese sub ($11.99). All come with fries, or a salad for $1.50 more, and include a portobello mushroom flatbread sandwich ($11.99), which features all kinds of goodness between the flatbreads — including tomato, zucchini, summer squash, mozzarella, goat cheese and a balsamic reduction and olive oil sauce. 8/10
TDC: I was tempted by a chicken cobb wrap ($13.99) with bacon, bleu cheese, tomatoes, scallions and avocado; a bleu cheese buffalo chicken salad sandwich ($11.99), or any number of salads: caesar, with or without chicken and a good deal at $5.99 to $8.99; butternut squash ravioli over a salad of mixed greens ($14.99) with gorgonzola crumbles, cashews, Parmesan cheese and an apple-curry vinaigrette; or the star salad of arugula with grilled jumbo sea scallops ($18.99) with candied pecans, dried cranberries, carrots, cucumbers and a pear-champagne vinaigrette. 8/10
OG: My taste buds directed me immediately to the specials menu and its five-spice salmon sandwich ($12.99), which was a delicious concoction of Asian-spiced sauce and a tender salmon filet served on pita. The presentation was lacking, but the meal delivered. A half pita was stuffed with salmon and toppings and a sweet/tangy/ spicy Thai chili sauce, and the filet of fish was outstandingly tasty.
Served with fries, which were thoroughly cooked (sometimes a rarity), I was very pleased with sandwich toppings including peppers and Napa cabbage and other goodies under the bright orange, top-notch sauce. The plate needed a sprig of green, however, or some accompaniment to offset the first impression of a spread of french fries and a sandwich, which appeared spartan on the large white plate. That was no matter, however, once the eating commenced. 8/10
TDC: My Asian chicken salad ($14.99) was a delight, featuring grilled, tender, juicy teriyaki chicken and Napa cabbage with a soy-miso Japanese-inspired sauce, thin fried strips of wonton noodles, and a plateful of vegetables, including green and red peppers and onions. The soy-miso-vinaigrette dressing was outstanding, and not overserved. 9/10
All the rest 16/20
OG: With so many eating and drinking spots in such a small town, Wolfeboro offers more than a few restaurants where summertime commands solid prices and guests expect quality food and good service. It's all there at Garwoods, but the prices are comparatively reasonable, and all menu items (except for fine wines) are within reach of most diners seeking a good meal. Service is friendly and relaxed, with most servers attending to any guest who requires anything. The presence of the big lake right out the back window sets the scene, and it's pleasant all around. 8/10
TDC: We like to say we'll return to restaurants, but so often we just don't — there are too many others to try and so little time. But we will, this time we really will, come back to Garwoods to try the cavatappi pasta, a wonderful sounding dish of shrimp, grape tomatoes, chorizo sausage and mozzarella in a dill butter sauce.