Our Gourmet: Step back in time at Peter Christian's Tavern

October 18. 2016 8:00PM

Peter Christian's Tavern
195 N. Main St., New London; 526-4042; peterchristianstavernllc.com

Seven days, 11 a.m.-closing.

Cuisine: Traditional American/pub fare.

Pricing: Appetizers, $6-$17; sandwiches & burgers, $8-$12; entrees, $10-$18.

Handicapped access: Some cramped quarters and tight turns in an old building.

The scores for Peter Christian's
Atmosphere: 17/20
Menu: 16/20
Food: 16/20
Service: 15/20
Value: 17/20
TOTAL: 81/100

Think of what a roadside tavern might have looked like in colonial New Hampshire, and you’ve got a pretty good image of the ambiance at Peter Christian’s Tavern in New London.

The tavern, located in one of several additions to a big old farmhouse just up the road from Colby-Sawyer College, looks like it’s straight out of 1775. Exposed beams, low ceilings, plain dark woodwork and candle-style sconces lead the imaginative diner to half expect to see a group of powdered-wigged gentlemen talking Revolutionary politics over a pint of ale just around the next corner.

We were seated in a triangular corner booth near the bar. While we studied the menu, we munched on pretzel sticks served with the tavern’s Original Mustard Sauce, a sweet, spicy concoction that’s also sold in jars.

The menu is heavy on appetizers, sandwiches and burgers, but there are 10 “heartier fare” entrees that lean toward the kind of comfort food you’d expect to find in a tavern of this vintage.

Mrs. Gourmet started with one of those dishes, an appetizer-size serving of Hearty Beef Stew (cup $4.95, mug $6.25). The stew came exactly as advertised: tender beef, slowly simmered with Guinness Stout, onions, celery, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms. The beef was plentiful and melt-in-your-mouth tender. The stout gave a wonderful flavor to the broth. A definite choice for dinner next time.

I went with PC’s Crab Cakes ($9.95). These four small (two or three bites each) cakes had an acceptable mix of crab to filler, though the crab was flaked, not lump. The flavor was good, with a nice touch of herbs and spiciness. The red pepper aioli added a nice kick. The menu called these cakes handmade, but I would say the hands made them in some sort of press, based on their uniformity of size and shape.

For her entree, Mrs. G picked the Smoke House Burger ($11.95), an Angus patty topped with smoked Gouda, bacon and brandied mushrooms. The burger was good, but it didn’t make Mrs. G forget about the stew, which for her was the star of the show.

I turned to the specials menu for Peter’s Italian Fish Dinner ($16.95), a large bowl of penne pasta in a lemon/white-wine cream sauce with a fillet of baked haddock. The fish was flaky and firm, but overall, the dish was rather bland. The dominant flavor, mild as it was, was garlic. I needed some salt and extra lemon to perk it up. There was plenty of pasta; I brought about half of it home, where I doctored it up further the next day.

We had a couple of minor service issues. The most notable was with the desserts. There are eight homemade desserts on the menu, including cheesecakes and brownie pies that change daily.

Our server told us the cheesecake was blueberry and the brownie pie was chocolate chip. We ordered ours to go, so we didn’t realize until after we left that the cheesecake had no blueberries and the brownie pie filling was actually grasshopper (green mint). They were good, but they weren’t what we were expecting.

Overall, Peter Christian’s seems ideally suited for a burger or sandwich and a beer; a nice respite if you’re traveling through the Sunapee area on Interstate 89.

The food and service could be more consistent, but the value factor is good, and the atmosphere is great.

Our GourmetNew London

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