MANCHESTER - Chris Davis of Goffstown was only 5 when his family immigrated from Jamaica in the early 1980s, bringing a tradition of Caribbean cooking to their new home in New Hampshire. Davis and his two partners are now sharing that tradition with visitors to Pint Publik House, a newly opened bar and restaurant at 1111 Elm St.
Pint combines the ambiance of a British-style pub, with the big-screen technology of a sports bar, the comfort food of a diner and the exotic flavors of the West Indies, not to mention an extensive beer selection.
After 25 years in the local restaurant business, most recently as general manager of Divots on the River at the Intervale Country Club, Davis is happy to have a stake in the business, thanks to a new partnership with the building's owner, Roy Arsenault, and retired beverage distributor Ken Lallier, both of Manchester.
The location on North Elm Street, which previously housed, Nicky D's restaurant and Italian market, had been vacant for more than 18 months, when the partners began renovations over the summer.
The result is a warm interior with a long bar accented by exposed brick on one side and a series of archways on the other that separate it from the dining area, comprised mostly of high-top tables with a few booths. Opposite the bar, the room is dominated by an open kitchen, enabling patrons to watch from almost any vantage point as their food is prepared.
Arsenault, who is also a co-owner of Raxx Billiards at 1211 Elm, said customer traffic since opening in mid-September has exceeded initial expectations. "It was a soft opening," he said, "but we got busy right away."
The north end of Elm Street is becoming a destination for dining out, he said, with the blocks between Concord and Bridge streets now offering everything from Mexican, to Chinese, fine dining bistros to family-style diners and now, a British-style pub.
"The traffic on South Elm is a younger crowd going to the bars. Up here is a slightly older group going out to dinner," Arsenault said. "I think we got a lot of that."
With all four Boston sports teams still in action, Pint couldn't have timed its opening better for the sports bar crowd. The club has six large flat screens over the bar, one in the dining area, and one more on the way, offering a good line of sight from any table or barstool. "During any big games, we've been packed," Arsenault said.
The menu includes a lot of comfort food favorites, like a classic turkey dinner, but is accented by unique dishes from the islands, prepared by Davis's mother.
"If I can't cook it, my mom comes in and makes certain dishes," he said, such as a fresh jerk rub for the many grilled selections, ox tail served over rice and beans, or stew peas with roti, a Jamaican oven-baked flat bread. The wings are grilled, not fried, and come with a variety of rubs and seasonings.
The selection of 20 draft beers and 50 bottle selections has been designed with the beer connoisseur in mind, said Arsenault,
Davis said the open kitchen has proven enormously popular, as the staff interacts with patrons in keeping with the friendly, pub-style atmosphere. "A lot of customers talk to the staff, and the staff really enjoys the interaction," he said. "It makes them feel like they're part of what's going on."