Hippo Manchester
December 15, 2005

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LONGSHOTS: Chop House opening is Berra of good news

by Dave Long

So Iím at the party for the opening of the Hanover Street Chop House and Yogi Berra pops into my head. You know Yogi, heís the baseball philosopher with a one-of-a-kind gift for mangling a phrase to make it sound both odd and logical at the same time. I was wondering how he might describe Manchesterís newest restaurant, which is nothing like weíve seen in town. And I mean that in a very good way.

Iíve got my own unique way of sizing up places, too. For instance, if I donít like the logo or name, I ainít going in. Donít ask me why. I guess Iím just about first impressions. Itís the same with uniforms in sports. I hate the color purple, so naturally I hate the Baltimore Ravens. I wouldnít root for them if they were playing the Russians during the Cold War. The only purple team to ever get an exemption is the original Minnesota Vikings. There was something about watching Fran Tarkenton dodging frustrated lineman while scrambling 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage in the white jersey, purple pants and white socks that made me like those babies. Ditto for when Jim Marshall scooped up a fumble and ran it into the wrong end zone to give the 49ers a safety.

My mind changed gears when I saw the Dolphins and Chargers (who I like because of their vintage powder blue jobs from the old AFL days) on the TV over the bar. Good, I said to no one in particular. Now that theyíre getting healthier and starting to play like the real Patriots again I donít want them to clinch the AFC East now. They need to get sharp.

Some guy, whose name I never quite caught, asked me about the Red Sox as I was trying a lusciously tender steak-tip skewer of some kind. The hot stove was raging last week with the winter meetings in full bloom; Manny being pedaled to everyone but the Nashua Pride and Edgar Renteria shuffling off to Atlanta. No short stop? No problem. On cue Miguel (you say tomato, I say) Tejada spouts off about wanting to leave Baltimore. Though old friend Mike Flanagan got into the act, it quieted down almost as quickly as it took me to scoop up the lobster dip concoction I dropped on the floor. So even though they ainít getting Miguel for Manny, I was in good spirits because that lobster concoction turned out be heavenly after a fresh trayful wandered by.

I ran into Monarchs prez Jeff Eisenberg while searching out the menís room. I thought he was skipping out on a game but it turned out, for the first time since the Clinton administration, his Ms werenít playing in town on Sunday afternoon. So he got points for not being a slacker, but lost a couple a short time later for not knowing his alma mater beat Tennessee in football for the first time since probably Billy Wade was playing QB for Vanderbilt. For Commodore alums, thatís akin to being an American hockey fan in 1980 and not knowing the Olympic team knocked off the Russians.

After that it was back upstairs for a chat with former SNHU president Dick Gustafson, right before I had a delicious, dry merlot from the interesting wine list dumped right in my lap by a friend. We had a short chat about the heartbreaker the Penmen had lost the previous day in Lowell. I was there doing the game with partner Charlie Sherman and told him it followed a familiar script. They jumped out to a big lead. Lowell spent the game chipping into it until winning it in the final minute. Bad ending, but a great game.

Finally I got a chance to thank Chuck Rolecek for inviting me. He was beaming, though Iím not sure if it was for opening the doors to his great new place or because his son, Steve, was starting to get some serious PT for the Harvard hockey team. The Crimson, who upset UNH earlier in the week, is coached by former Monarch Ted DeNato and I only mention it to show Eisenberg I know my Ms lore with the best of them.

Speaking of lore brings me back to Berra. The new place with the valet parking brought to mind my favorite Yogism of them all. It came after a teammate suggested going to a restaurant in Minneapolis. To which Yogi frowned and said, ďnobody goes there anymore, itís too crowded.Ē I donít know if it translates directly to the place on Hanover Street with the cool name and great logo but I can say this ó the food is out of this world and since I pretty much spill things on myself everyplace I go, I felt right at home.

And Iím betting when you give it a try, you will too.

Dave Long can be heard nightly from 6-7pm, on Sports Night with Dave Long on 61 WGIR-AM.