Restaurants & Bars 5

Unum's, Nashua NH: my Yelp review

Hellaenthusiasm | Jun 6, 200807:57 AM

I'd go 3.5 stars if I could.
After seeing the great reviews here on Yelp, I then checked out the reviews on Chowhound and they were really all over the place; some absolutely hated Unum's, others loved it.
Well I'll try anything once, especially when it's a new restaurant.
Husband and I had dinner reservations for 7:30 on a Thursday evening; the place was maybe 1/3 full at tables, there were a number of people at the bar, but the place was certainly not hella busy.
We were greeted and seated graciously; our orders were taken in a timely fashion; everyone there (both diners and employees) seem to be having a good time.

First came some hearty crusty bread and a delicious herb-infused olive oil dipping sauce. That was some good fruity oil. Loved it.

We placed our orders and requested a bottle of Lacky shiraz; server came back in a moment to tell us they are out of it; we ordered a similarly priced Grenache in its place. (The owner came over around that time to explain the complications of buying wine in NH; they cannot sell things that aren't offered in the State Liquor Stores...crazy live free or die state but you can't get whatever bloody wine people want! Must make it hard for restaurant owners. Anyway, it was nice of him to come by and offer the story.)

We shared a calamari appetizer which was described on the menu: Fresh Pan Seared Calamari, Roasted Elephant Garlic, Cherry Peppers, Smoked Tomatoes, and Cracked Peppercorns. ~ $10. The server told us not to expect the usual calamari rings; we said that was fine, we know what a squid looks like. The calamari seemed more steamed than seared; it was ok but the broth and seasoning somewhat overpowered the calamari with heat.

Husband ordered the roast duck entree, requested it rare. It wasn't. When the server came by to see if it was done the way he wanted, he said it was not rare at all, she made some comment but nothing was done about it. The dish itself is a bit unusual in its components; lots of raspberries, a sweet glaze on the duck skin, and the whole thing sits on a big pancake that envelopes a duck sausage. It ends up looking like a train wreck halfway through the meal, but he thought it tasted good. I tried a bite and found the cinnamon flavor of the pancake was not a good counterpoint to the fruit and duck.

I had grilled salmon, served with several shrimp and scallops on a bed of lemony risotto. The menu mentioned something about fennel and onion, but I didn't notice those in the mix. The seafood was very fresh and nicely seasoned; portion was generous and I enjoyed my dinner.

Now for ambiance and decor. I overheard a diner at the next table say to her companion, "boy, there's a lot of stuff around here." She was referring to the various ceramic roosters, fake grape clusters, vases, wine bottles, books, sacks of rice....all over the bookcase in the dining room. It sort of looks like my kitchen when I've just come home from a shopping excursion. But I put things away.

The kitchen is open to the dining room and it gets super noisy with utensils rattling and dishes hittling the granite counter. Then, once in a while, the chef has a Tourette's syndrome-like outburst when a dish is ready. I jumped every time he shouted. Try a bell, or a gentle gong.

So I'm glad we tried Unum's. I know they are new and working things out. My feedback would be to simplify things, concentrate on doing a few things super well, muffle the clatter of dishes on granite, offer an amuse bouche before the dinner. Do not put side dishes on the menu for $7.00 per serving. I hate being nickel and dimed to death at a place where the average dinner will be over $50 per person. If you want to be a sports bar with a TV, be that. Or be a trattoria. Or a fine dining establishment.

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