Our Gourmet: Milford's Bar One is One great spotJune 20. 2017 10:30PM
Bar One40 Nashua St., Milford; 249-5327; www.facebook.com/baronenh
Serving: Wednesday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 4-midnight; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
Cuisine: Southern-influenced bistro
Pricing: Appetizers $2-$10; Salads $5-$10; Flatbread pizzas $11-$14; Sandwiches $9-$12; Entrees $12-$17
Handicap access: Small space, tight quarters.
The scores for Bar One:
Again this week, Mrs. Gourmet and I find ourselves at an establishment we hadn’t noticed before in a community whose restaurants, we thought, had been pretty thoroughly visited and reviewed. Bar One was an ideal find for us, after a busy Saturday left us hungry but not in the mood to go wandering across the state to find someplace new.
Bar One just celebrated its first anniversary. It’s located in a storefront just a few parking spots east of the Milford Oval that’s had several other bar identities over the years. We never visited its predecessors, but Bar One has a winning (and hopefully, long-lasting) combination of popularity, ambiance, and great food.
Online reviews we read advised arriving early to avoid a wait. “Early” is a subjective term, but apparently 6:20 on a Saturday night doesn’t qualify. Several other parties were ahead of us. The hostess said the wait was about 40 minutes, so we left our name and cellphone number and were told they would text us when our table was ready.
We wandered around Milford’s pretty downtown for 20 minutes or so, then headed back to our parked car to wait it out. But it wasn’t more than another five minutes before we got the text that our table was ready, and that we’d have about 15 minutes to come back and claim it.
Inside, Bar One is a small space, with maybe a dozen or so tables and booths. The bar runs along one wall, and booths along the other, with a row of high-top tables for two serving as the divider. The decor is a neat blend of contemporary and rustic, with barnboard wainscotting, pendant lighting with Edison-style bulbs, and black-painted furniture.
We opted for a booth, and were quickly greeted by our server with a bowl of the house potato chips, fried dark and generously seasoned. We made quick work of them while we studied the menu, which is succinct but with something for everyone.
Creative Southern touches can be found throughout. Appetizers include hush puppies, pork-belly sliders and smoked okra (but there’s also duck confit poutine). On the entree side, one can head south for an order of chicken and waffles (with coriander and sweet potato flour in the batter), blackened catfish, and biscuits and gravy (with red-wine cranberry boar sausage).
Mrs. G started with Buffalo Cauliflower ($7). This generous bowl featured cauliflower flowerettes gently seasoned and cooked just tender, tossed in a simple Buffalo sauce of hot sauce and butter. Dill ranch dressing was on the side.
Competing for the attention of our hot/spicy taste receptors was my appetizer of Fried Green Tomatoes ($8). On their own, the five tomato slices would have been totally dependent on their breaded coating for any flavor. But the tomatoes became just the vehicle for the wonderfully complex relish of corn and fennel in a tangy, slightly sweet vinegar base and the equally engaging and spicy Chesapeake aioli.
Mrs. G continued along the Southern theme with her entree, Shrimp and Grits ($16). She was jealous last year when I ordered this tasty dish last year in South Carolina, so she jumped at the opportunity here. The saffron grits themselves were a bit of a disappointment: They were thick and heavy, not creamy and buttery the way they’re served down South. But they were only the understory for the perfectly grilled shrimp dusted in Cajun spices, along with smoked pork belly , roasted red pepper and grilled fennel that sat atop the heap.
I was drawn to the flatbread pizzas for my entree, and was torn between the Lucky Duck ($14, roasted duck, fig, arugula and hoisin sauce) and the Cookout ($14, grilled shrimp and chicken, barbecue sauce, fresh mozarella, corn and roasted red pepper). I decided to let our server make the call, and me being me, I was a little let down when she recommended the Cookout — I was worried that the barbecue sauce would overpower everything else.
But but I was wrong. Every ingredient on this oblong pizza held its own, with just the right amount of cheese and sauce to hold things together. The only disappointment, if I can even call it that, was the chicken. The tiny dice seemed a bit dry, and not really necessary in an already terrific pizza. This is one that I’ll be trying to replicate on the grill at home this summer.
We saw no dessert menu, and our server didn’t offer, which was OK by us. We’re starting to like the idea of not having to tackle a third course after an already ample meal.
Online reviews for Bar One have been overwhelmingly positive, and we can see why. The food is creative, well prepared and attractively presented. The atmosphere is fun, our service was prompt and friendly, and the prices are reasonable. (Our two courses plus a beer came to just under $59).
You can expect a bit of a wait at prime time in this small, hopping establishment, but we think you’ll find it to be worth it.