Our Gourmet: Molly comes back to her hometown
A year and a half ago, we were disappointed when we visited the rustic restaurant and tavern on the banks of the Piscataquog River in New Boston. What had for years been the Molly Stark Tavern was operating under a different name, Kiki's, and we found the food nowhere near as good as the location and community deserved.
Well, things have changed. The restaurant is under new ownership, “Molly” is back, and we're happy to say that it's as good as we had hoped it would be when we visited its predecessor.
We were glad to see that nothing about the surroundings has changed. The restaurant is in a vintage house near the road, and the tavern, with its own menu, is across the parking lot in a more contemporary building. The main dining room is in a barn-like ell at the back of the house, and the exposed timber framing makes for a charming, comfortable space.
Our Gourmet: Our Teenage Bottomless Pit was with us after a long reviewing absence, and he announced that one of us needed to order the Crab Cakes ($9.99). Since he was planning to order the Gravity Nachos and The Dining Companion was going with Calamari, I was happy to assume the responsibility. The two cakes were hand formed and lightly browned. The light, smooth filling combined shredded crabmeat with a nice mix of herbs and minced aromatics; there with a fairly strong seafood flavor and a hint of a peppery kick. The sweet pepper sauce on which the cakes were plated was a nice complement, too. 8/10
TBP reported the nachos ($9.99) were good, though we noticed a fairly large portion of the tortilla chips was uncovered by toppings and got a bit over-toasted in the oven. The serving size seemed just right for an appetizer. 7/10
The Dining Companion: When they say flash fried, they mean it — cooked just enough and tender as can be! The calamari ($9.99) was tossed in a cayenne lime aioli — an excellent compliment, but a little heavier on the mayonnaise flavor than it needed to be. This is No. 2 only to the calamari at Hooked (which can now claim Molly's as a relation), so far my favorite in the state! 9/10
OG: I chose the Signature Asian BBQ Steak Tips ($17.99), a generous portion of sirloin medallions grilled medium rare as requested, coated liberally with a zingy sauce that reminded me of a combination of sweet barbecue sauce and spicy Hoisin. I thought it was terrific, but apparently it's not for everyone, because our excellent waitress made sure I understood the Asian influence before confirming my order. Mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans were excellent sides. 8/10.
TBP ordered the New York strip steak ($21.99), which was flavorful, but a bit on the thin side and a little more rare than the medium he ordered. Those of us who like medium rare were fine with it. 7/10
TDC: TBP loves haddock, but when he mentioned an interest in the Haddock Piccata ($17.99), I steered him away, knowing that he doesn't care for lemon. I love both haddock and a good piccata sauce, so this was the perfect dish for me (and sure enough, TBP said his taste of it was great except for the lemon sauce.) The fish was perfectly done, and the piccata sauce was rich and thick while lightly pungent, served over delicious mashed potatoes. The green beans were done just al dente, which made a perfect side to a wonderful fish. 9/10
OG: Several dessert items appear at the bottom of the menu, but there are daily variations. Thinking I was going light, I opted for the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Sundae. That may not sound light, but in fact, it was. Relatively speaking, at least. The whoopie pie had the typical cream filling, but the cake itself was moist, lightly spiced and delicious. The pie was cut in half and served with a generous portion of vanilla ice cream (which could easily have replaced the cream filling). A fantastic fall finish. 10/10
TBP was the first to choose and asked for the Apple Pumpkin Pie. Although having the appearance of your run of the mill apple pie, the touch of pumpkin brought it to a whole new level. We may disagree as to whether it was the best dessert of the night, there was no doubt in his mind — he said it was his best ever! 10/10. (To avoid the possibility of starvation later, he also got an order of peanut butter pie to go, and reported that ranked right up there as well.)
TDC: Not hearing a major chocolate dish that caught my interest, I opted for the Oreo cookie cheesecake, and unfortunately was disappointed. It was a bit dry, and with my first fork full, it split in half. Both OG and TBP agreed it was dry and moved to protect their choices as they continued to rave. I did get the minimal half-fork of each and have to agree that they were both fantastic! 7/10
All the rest: 4/5
The new owners, veterans of the restaurant industry in Manchester, have the potential to turn Molly's into the destination that we had hoped its predecessor would be. Word is that the menu currently offered may not be the permanent one, but its got a good assortment of choices, with an emphasis on comfort foods, and the execution is far ahead of what we experienced when we visited Kiki's last year.
Our server was friendly, engaging and efficient. The location can't be beat. The place is charming as can be. And with the fall foliage about to pop, the timing of Molly's return couldn't be better. If your leaf-peeping tour takes you down Route 13 from Goffstown to Milford, Molly's would be a great place to stop for a bite.