I'm quickly starting to eat my way through the Milford NH oval with this "Eat Local" food blog! This morning we made our way to The Riverhouse Cafe in Milford, NH. I've walked by their door a million times, and I've actually been there once, many, MANY years ago, so long ago that I don't even remember what we had. It felt new and fresh today though, and that was exciting for sure.
The first thing that strikes you as you walk through the door is the feeling that you get, its open, clear, and inviting, from the smile of the waitress to the large L shaped counter area. I love walking into a cafe and being able to see the entire room, it allows you to connect with not only the room, but with the people in it. Because that's what a cafe is, at least to me, its not a place to hide, but a place to connect with other dinners, to people watch and openly say "morning" to someone you may not eve know. A cafe was a small towns "facebook" back 50 years ago, and we need more of that, I think.
We had just the nicest waitress, a younger girl who, despite it being super early on a Sunday, was extremely welcoming and happy to wait on us. Even though there is not a bad seat inside the entire Riverhouse Cafe, we were immediately drawn to the counter. We are "counter people", no matter where we go, we like to "sit at the counter". What I love about the counter at The Riverhouse Cafe is that the stools are low so your feet can touch the ground, and the counter itself is an L shape, not a straight counter, which allows you the ability to really connect and converse with other diners. Its a great, classic cafe counter.
After having to check back with us a couple of times, and never losing her smile, we had finally decided on what to order for breakfast from our fabulous waitress. We both choose the local A&E Coffee Roasters coffee, a plate of pancakes, the biscuits and gravy, a homemade sausage patty, and The Riverhouse Cafes own take on eggs benedict. The Riverhouse Cafe makes great use of local resources for its menu, from the incredible Lull Farms and Trombly Gardens, to A&E Coffee Roasters, as well as a couple of local places that I'm not familiar with, but I'll be remedying that soon enough.
First, the coffee....ohhhhhhh the coffee. I am, as you all know, a coffee snob. If I don't like a cup of coffee, I'll tell you, I don't' sugar coat it. I'm embarrassed to say this....BUT, I have never had a cup of A&E Coffee Roasters coffee....GASP! I know, right? I'm a horrible person :-). I am kicking myself now, because this cup of coffee was, hands down, the best cup of coffee I have ever had, and all this time its been 2 minutes down the road. Its rich, full bodied, and the thing is, it fills your nose well before you ever take that first sip, its amazing, simply a perfect cup of coffee. I loved it so much, I actually drove over to A&E Coffee Roasters right after we left, so I could pick some up, but they were not open yet, but that just gives me the opportunity to do a whole "Eat Local" blog just on A&E Coffee Roasters.
As you sit at the counter, you can see through to the kitchen to the chefs cooking your breakfast, and its a nice little touch. It was like a well choreographed machine back there, and to be honest, it looked like they were enjoying cooking, and that really is the key to any cafe, if the person cooking your meal is genuinely enjoying what they are doing, you know you are in for an incredible morning.
Now, sometimes you'll hear people say, "our meal was ready in no time", and that's not really a "thought" that i subscribe to. If my meal comes out in no time, it means either it was rushed, or some of the items were prepared before hand and just heated up. As a former professional chef, I know how much time a meal takes to cook, and I appreciate the time, I even enjoy the time while I wait for my meal to be prepared. Unless your in a super rush, no one really wants to walk in, sit down, order, and have their food come right out. You want to take time, enjoy your coffee, talk to your friends, slow down, and relax. That's my take on it anyway, a meal is a time to slow down, and savor the moment, its not meant to be rushed or hurried.
So with perfect timing, our breakfast came out, and their is only one way to describe it. BIG. Big servings, big plates, big flavors, and big smiles on our faces.
Sausage and Gravy
I was a chef in the army, and I used to make sausage and gravy for hundreds. It can sometimes get a bad wrap, but when made correctly, sausage and gravy is a flavorful, culinary feast for the hearty appetite. The Riverhouse Cafe does sausage and gravy right in every way. They use huge, giant, fluffy buttermilk biscuits, with a smooth, creamy gravy that has a soft buttery flavor to it that you just have to taste to believe. Its defiantly home made, and I think their own special recipe because their was a hint of something in there that made it unique that I couldn't put my finger on....cinnamon or nutmeg? It gave it a taste all its own.
This is The Riverhouse Cafes on take on eggs benedict. Its two poached eggs, served on a crispy shredded potato crouton with a velvety hollandaise sauce. There are two types of places in this world, those that make homemade hollandaise sauce, and those that don't. Hollandaise sauce is HARD TO MAKE! I used to prepare hollandaise sauce every morning when I worked as chef some 200 years ago, and its not only extremely labor intensive, but its hard to do, it takes time, patience, and pure arm strength to stir it non-stop until is ready. A cafe that makes it's own hollandaise sauce is a place that has the highest level of love for what they do. The poached eggs were cooked to perfection, the potatoes where crispy on the outside yet soft inside, it was just a well executed dish. But that hollandaise sauce, that was just incredible. The flavor was velvety, soft, and complimented every part of that dish to perfection.
Stack of Pancakes
Massive. Fluffy. Delicious. At home, when I'm running "Daddys Diner" for my kids on the weekends, I make my own pancake batter, and its probably the best pancakes I've ever had...The Riverhouse Cafe's pancakes are even better. Moist, ginormous, and fluffy, they were seriously the best pancakes I have ever had when I am out to eat.
The Riverhouse Cafe is an amazing place, it has the feel and warmth of a small town cafe where you can sit and relax, and just forget about the hectic world outside, and where for at least one morning, you can go back to the way things used to be, where strangers said good morning to each other over an incredible cup of coffee. But don't expect to do much talking, because if your like me, you'll spend the majority of the time enjoying bite after bite of their locally grown menu of amazing specials and menu items.