Our Gourmet: Gate City boasts tasty new brewpubAugust 28. 2018 10:54PM
Odd Fellows Brewing Co.124 Main St., Nashua; 521-8129; www.oddfellowsbrewery.com
Hours: Wednesday 4-11 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-midnight; Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Monday & Tuesday.
Cuisine: Brew pub.
Pricing: Appetizers $5-$11; salads $5-$15; sandwiches $12-$14; entrees $11-$22.
The scores for Odd Fellows
Now that we’re empty nesters, it’s a special occasion when we get to have dinner with our son, the man about town we used to refer to as The Bottomless Pit. It’s even more special when we can take him to a restaurant — a brewpub, no less — in his old hometown that we discovered before he did.
Now, to be fair, Odd Fellows Brewing Co. in Nashua may not have been on TBP’s radar because it isn’t quite a brewpub yet. Its brewing operation is scheduled to be rolling next month. But in the meantime, it’s a nice little downtown dining spot with a creative menu and a great list of craft beers on tap and in bottles.
Mrs. Gourmet and I noticed Odd Fellows a few months ago when we were having dinner at another favorite spot of ours across Main Street. It takes its name from its next-door neighbor, the imposing brick structure originally known as the Odd Fellows Building on the corner of Main and Temple streets.
When we arrived on a recent Saturday evening, the sidewalk tables out front were full. But there was plenty of room inside, and we were shown to a high-top table toward the back of the narrow, fairly deep space, which seems deeper and narrower because of a half-wall that divides it down the middle. The bar is on the left side; the right side will have a view of the brewing area through windows that are currently covered with Guinness beer posters.
It was the menu, not the beer, that convinced us to visit Odd Fellows. Appetizers like pork-belly tacos, smoked wings and yellow fin tuna tacos and main courses ranging from empanadas to steak to Detroit-style pizza are on the concise regular menu, and a daily list of specials nearly doubles the creative offerings.
Trying to make the most of the waning days of summer, I turned to the specials menu to start with a bowl of Watermelon Gazpacho ($5). Chunks of watermelon were islands in a large pool of juice, which included a touch of the savory with tomato and cucumber. Still, the dominant flavor was definitely watermelon, with an ever-present kick from roasted poblano pepper whirled into the juice. Crumbles of smoked feta cheese added a nice salty touch to what was mainly a sweet, spicy dish. Neither Mrs. G nor TBP cared for it, but I thought it was a great twist on the classic cold summer soup.
Sticking to the specials menu for my main course, I chose the Duck Sausage Pizza ($14). This large, rectangular flatbread featured ground duck sausage, baby spinach, roasted red peppers, garlic and fresh mozzarella. It looked fantastic, but it was a bit bland. The sausage was very mild, and the rest of the ingredients leaned more toward sweet than savory; it needed a salty or spicy kick to make it as remarkable as I had hoped it would be. Also, the crust was slightly undercooked in the middle of the pizza.
Mrs. G started with an order of fried calamari ($10). A generous serving featured a fairly even split between rings and tentacles, which we (as tentacle fans) rarely see. The bread coating seemed slightly overcooked, but the squid itself was just fine — made even better by the excellent cilantro chipotle vinaigrette that was drizzled over all.
She continued with an order of empanadas ($15). The three gently fried half-moon hand pies were filled with shredded chicken, pico de gallo and a cilantro lime sauce. She loved the empanadas, but she especially loved the small dish of “street corn” that accompanied the dish along with Spanish rice. Street corn is a Mexican side dish of grilled corn, either on or off the cob, with some combination of cojita cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, lime and spices. We hadn’t had it before, but we’ll be on the lookout for it from now on. And we’ve started experimenting with it at home, too.
TBP was the big winner with both his appetizer and entree. (That and the free dinner, which really goes without saying.)
He started with Bacon Jalapeno Dip ($10) — a crock of creamy cheddar topped with green onions, sliced jalapenos and chopped bacon. It was a great dish, and the polar opposite of my light, summery gazpacho. It was served with what was described as “crispy bread,” which looked more like oversized ginger snaps or vanilla wafers than bread or even crackers.
He followed that up with the braised short rib ($17). This was one of those occasions where we realized that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, as both Mrs. G and I are suckers for this wonderfully tender, moist beef dish. Odd Fellows’ version held up well to others we’ve tried: fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy, topped with a rich brown sauce (which had just a touch of corn-starch sheen to it), and served with mashed potatoes and a nice summer squash medley. It was another good dish that would be even better a few months from now when we’ll be seeking some warm comfort food to chase the autumn chill.
Service was friendly and polite, though there were a few short delays. Value factor was good for good prices and good food.
The onsite brewing operation will give Odd Fellows a leg up over most of the competition in downtown Nashua, although Martha’s Exchange, a block or two down Main Street, has been brewing in-house for years.
Couple house-made craft brew with a creative, well-executed menu, and Odd Fellows has a formula that should keep people coming back for more — like us, for instance.