Article featured on NewHampshire.com and the Manchester Union Leader
DAMIAN'S ON THE RIVER
737 River Road, New Boston
Damianís opened quite recently. The address is in New Boston, but if youíre coming from the Manchester area, itís actually closer to Goffstown. You wonít recognize it at first: What used to stand on the site was the old Shipwreck Seafood. Owners Damian and Sonia Martineau have razed the old landmark and in its place erected a new building that is both comfortable and casually elegant.
The menu changes seasonally, with an emphasis on fine food cooked with fresh ingredients from scratch. Itís something Chef Damian Martineau knows a little bit about: A graduate of the famed Culinary Institute of America, Martineau spent 20 years cooking for the Washington, D.C., power set. Originally from Pelham, he and his wife decided to come back to the area where he grew up and raise their kids here.
Martineau is a member of the American Culinary Federation/Nationís Capital Chefís Association, among other things, and he has many ribbons and medals on display at the restaurant that show he is, indeed, an accomplished chef.
But the proof is in the pudding, as they say ó or at least in the food. All the honors and training in the world donít mean anything if you canít deliver and fortunately for us, Chef Damian delivered.
We got a nice table by the window which, by daylight, would have given us a lovely view of the river. Our server, Georgia, was personable, knowledgeable and efficient. My only complaint was that the space between the tables was not quite as much as I would have liked. If there had been four of us instead of two, we certainly would have been very cozy with the tables behind us. We were able to avoid being cramped by choosing chairs diagonally behind, rather than directly behind, our neighbors.
I started out the meal with a lobster mac ($10.75), a twist on the old comfort food. A velvety cheese sauce coated the gemelli, which was mixed with small chunks of lobster. The portion, while delicious, was almost comically small, although I have to point out that at the end of the evening, I did not leave Damianís hungry. My perception of the portion probably said more about Americanís tendency to overeat than anything else.
My dining companion began his meal with a duckling pate wrapped in smoked bacon ($5.95). It was served with blueberry chutney and organic greens with toast points. The flavors of the pate were excellent ó and wonderfully enhanced by the blueberry chutney. Weíd love to see how this dish would taste with traditional New England cranberries in lieu of blueberries as well.
Main courses are served with a choice of potato and vegetable sides (you get to pick two) that range from mashed potatoes to jasmine rice to garlic sauteed spinach.
My entree was a grilled beef tenderloin in a creamy mushroom sauce ($24.75). Expertly prepared, the tenderloin was cooked to order. It was in a pool of mushroom sauce that, which small, packed a lot of flavor and complemented the tenderloin perfectly.
My companion opted for the Atlantic salmon served over a crispy Maine lobster risotto cake ($18.75). The fish was superb and the crispiness of the risotto delightfully offset the texture of salmon.
Damian and Sonia Martineau, owners of Damian's on the River in New Boston, are excited with the reception that their new restaurant has received from the community. (KATE HARPER photos)
On this particular night, the lavender creme brulee was what caught my attention ($6.75). This is something you canít get just anywhere and I wasnít about to let it go untested. The creme brulee was sweet and creamy with more than a little lavender flavor. The fact I had a large serving probably didnít help, but the taste, while pleasant at first, does tend to get a bit over the top after a while. Some things are just meant to be enjoyed in moderation and this is probably one of them, I guess.
My dining companion chose the pumpkin cheesecake with roasted pecan crust, ($5.95) a recipe the New Hampshire Union Leader featured in its ďIn Good TasteĒ special section published Sept. 30. It was a delectable, creamy cheesecake that both of us enjoyed. If I cooked ó which I donít ó Iíd try preparing it myself. Instead, Iíll just have to make a point to return to Damianís On The River to get another serving. Soon.
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