So within the last month there have been a few new restaurants opening in the Afton Village area of Concord. I think I've tried them all now and the results are mixed. From least favorite to most:
1) Joe's Sports Bar and Grill - in Afton Village proper, in the same complex as Gateway to Athens and E Noodles. One word: SMOKE. There is no nonsmoking section but judging by the number of people smoking, this doesn't matter to most people. When we ate there (just days after they opened), the only food being offered was appetizers (think: things you can cook with a deep fryer). I understand since then sandwiches have been added to the menu. But I'm not willing to brave the health hazard to give them a try.
2) Pandini's - In Afton Ridge shopping center. This, I believe, is a chain though I've never seen any others. It's Sandwiches, Salads, 1-Person-Pizzas, and Pasta. I liked the food. I had a margherita pizza and my husband had one of their signature sandwiches, a Labretti, which is like a sandwich on flatbread except that the bread is a pizza crust. He said the bread/crust was excellent, but wasn't crazy about the steak filling. I think I'll be back here for easy dinners. Too expensive for lunch (our meal with two fountain drinks was $18).
3) Max's Ally - A standalone building in Afton Village next to the YMCA. I understand this is a new restaurant by the same people that run Dressler's in Birkdale Village. It's billed as an upscale family restaurant (and there were a lot of kids on the night we went). It is being well-received in Concord. In fact, the first night we tried to go (a Saturday), there was an hour wait; this only a couple weeks after opening. We decided not to wait that time, but went back the next Tuesday. It was much more tame that night, but still respectable for a Tuesday. The atmosphere was pleasant and the service was good. The menu is not large, but there's a little of everything at very reasonable prices. Most entrees were in the mid-teens. Steak in the $20s. We had crab fritters for an app which were very tasty (but took a while to come to the table and thus we wished they were hotter). Then we both had a salad, which were just the right size for preceding an entree and only $4. The entrees weren't awesome, but quite decent. My stuffed chicken was overcooked, but at $13 it was still tasty. My husband said that the sauce/reduction severd with his New York strip was tasteless, but that the meat itself was very good. For dessert, we shared a simple, but tasty apple crisp.
I'm hoping they're still working out kinks and it's only going to get better. Either way, we'll go back, probably often, because this is just the type of restaurant we've been needing in Concord. However, next time we'll ask for a table because the booths are crazy-uncomfortable!
Would enjoy hearing the reactions of other people who have tried these places, especially Max's Ally.