Saturday, September 6, 2008

Happy Accidents...

One of the nicest things that can happen is when you choose a restaurant you've never been to before...a little hole in the wall, that you have no or low expectations for...and then it blows you away. That happened to me yesterday.

Let me explain. The Bear Squad was taking a tour up into New Hampshire to drive the Kancamagus Highway (nice to get into the wild sometimes, even for an urban bear like me.) We hopped off 93 in Lincoln, NH to begin the drive, and we were ravenous. We spotted a sign for a place called Texas Toast Eatery and another for a Pig's Ear BBQ. We decided to investigate...and found they were pretty much the same restaurant.

We were seated in the little dining room in the "Village Shops" area, which you can find just to the right as you head east on the Kanc, and we were baffled by the decor, which seemed to be trying to combine New Hampshire and Texas together. A poster of a black bear (which I found homey) competed with cowboy hats for wall space. The menu was full of odd little combinations. We were waited on by Mary, the owner, and she was charming. We tried their iced tea, as well as their Texas sweet tea (move over McDonalds), and both were excellent.

As we waited for our meals, they brought over one of the side dishes the Otter had ordered - grilled corn muffins with jalapenos and cheese. We each tried a half...and they were amazing! Cheesy, warm, spicy, and comforting. We dipped them in their homemade BBQ sauce (I love a BBQ place that leaves a squeeze-bottle of sauce and a roll of paper towels on each table) which was also fantastic. Suddenly excited about our meals, we now waited with anticipation.

The Other Half and I both got the Big's Ear 5-Star sandwich. This consists of delicious, well-seasoned pulled pork with just a touch of BBQ sauce (why drown it when the customer can sauce to taste at the table?) served on two slices of delicious, garlicky Texas Toast. For sides, we both got the unbelievably delicious BBQ baked beans (loaded with bacon - how can you go wrong?). He got the potato salad, which was the only "Well, that was okay" item we had. I had some corn on the cob that was sweet, crisp, and delicious. The Otter got another order of them uffins (we had sort of devoured them) and a salad which lots of fresh, tasty, and interesting ingrediants, including cornichons, sliced cherry tomatoes, and shaved sides of corn!

After our meals, we pondered and discussed dessert. You see, there was only one dessert item - strawberry shortcake. And to have, frankly, the balls to only put one dessert item on your menu...well...that'd better be some damned good strawberry shortcake. We'd chuckled over this before the meal. But now, with them eal over, we wondered just how good this strawberry shortcake was. We decided to order one and split it, as we were all fairly full.

My friends...let me testify. :) We all pretty much agreed it was theb est strawberry shortcake we'd ever had. Seriously. And I've eaten a lot of strawberry shortcake. It's one of my favorite desserts.

The biscuit was warm from the oven, and homemade with cream, blueberries, and blackberries mixed into it. It was topped with a thick strawberry compote, dollops of an almost-frosting-like whipped cream, flavored with cinnamon, and garnished with fresh, ripe strawberries and blackberries. I wanted to cry, it was so good. Or better yet, order another. ;)

We chatted with Mary, and she told us that the phantom gourmet had given her place 9 out of 10 stars. He must've been in a bad mood that day, because I can't imagine what he held back a star for. The potato salad?

Mary also showed us their breakfast menu, which included French toast (made with that thick Texas toast, minus the garlic, I shouldn't wonder), pork chops, an "eggs-a-dilla", and so much more. She also asked us if we liked hot wings. She told us next time we came (and we all agreed there would be a next time), we'd have to have the hot wings. Their recipe for the sauce includes a pork rub, Pete's hot sauce, butter, and honey. It just sounds as amazing as the rest.

Take my advice - if you're going to do a foliage drive up along the Kanc, stop in Lincoln and eat at the Pig's Ear. You won't need to eat again for hours. Seriously, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by missing it.

More reviews of our trip down the Kanc will follow.

- The Happy Bear

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