…by Anura Guruge
Click image for the 'redarrowdiner.com' Web site
Given that I am far from being a fussy eater (especially since I stopped being primarily carnivorous) I generally do not rave or disparage eating establishments. Provided that they are not downright rude to me (as was the case once at a pretensions Alton restaurant that did not like the color of my skin), I tend to be an uncomplaining, undemanding, habitually polite, always proper diner that goes out of my way to be pleasant to the servers and generally tip above the norm. Given that for much of my life, when I traveled way more than most, I frequented eateries on a routine basis, I tend not to get too worked up about most restaurants. Kind of ambivalent. But, today was an exception. Part of it was that it was so serendipitous.
We had hoped to go to the Currier Museum in the morning and then see ‘Lorax‘, in 3-D, at 4pm in Concord. Though I had called them up on Friday they forgot to mention that they would be closed on Sunday for Easter! I though about going to Parker’s Maple Barn not having visited it in a decade. But it was Easter and I knew that the wait time would be in hours. So, I drove around Manchester seeing inspiration. I turned into Lowell St. (off Elm) since what used to be my favorite restaurant in NH was on the street — ‘Richard’s Bistro‘ (that has now changed hands with Richard’s retirement). My wife, Deanna, ‘spotted’ the diner. We have drive by it hundreds of times before but had never really taken mush notice of it given its unprepossessing exterior. We all fancied a good meal in a diner. I had pancakes in mind.
It was noon and it was packed. People lined up against the wall waiting for one of the five tables (each capable of seating four). We decided to wait. It was warm and pleasant enough. They had good music. We waited about 25 minutes for a table. The kids were remarkably patient.
The food was exceptional — and coming from me, that means a lot. The portions were generous, it looked it, it tasted right, the prices were realistic and the service divine.
I had their ‘famous’ pork pie with banana pancakes, scrambled eggs and baked beans. It was very good. Deanna, as is her wont, had a BLT with fries. It was huge and had to have been beyond good because she, uncharacteristically, ate it all. Usually we bring some home. Devanee had Belgium waffles (with the works) and Teischan, one fussy and finicky eater, had a Mickey Mouse chocolate chip pancake with bacon. They both cleaned their plates. That is even rarer than Deanna finishing a BLT in one sitting. That alone was memorable to me.
We were served by a bright and cheerful young man. High school student; the owner’s son. He said he loved working their and it showed. All the others were fun too.
Now, this is one place that does NOT need my endorsement. Judging from the pictures and newspaper clippings on the walls, not to mention the name plaques of famous people that had sat in those chairs, they are BEYOND famous. [Al Gore had sat in my seat, which made me happy.] Check them out. You won’t regret it. I am sure of that.
One day I really should also write about Richard’s. I first went there in 1997 having heard about it from a local contact. I was blown away. Over the next decade I frequented it frequently. I got to know Richard who was a wonderful person. I would coax business clients staying in Boston to drive up for dinner there. Without exception all would say that it was well worth the 1-hour drive from Boston! Two well heeled clients, one a CEO from London and another a V.P. from Dallas said it was one of the best meals they have ever had. That is mighty praise. Well, the Red Arrow is a different experience, but to me it ranks among one of the best I have had in a long time. Thank you.