The night of 26 restaurants
Sample dowtown Manchester venues new and old at the Taste
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
The evening Manchester food lovers wait for is almost here. The sixth annual Taste of Downtown Manchester will be Wednesday, Sept. 9, from 5 to 8 p.m. This event allows residents to sample the flavors of the best restaurants in the city and scope out the best bargains at many downtown retailers.
“We have 26 restaurants participating this year, including the new downtown hot spots Ignite, Firefly American Bistro, and Mint Bistro. People were anxious to get on board this year. With the economy the way it is, this event is a great opportunity for restaurants and stores to introduce themselves to new customers,” said Samantha Appleton of Intown Manchester, the event organizer.
“There are a lot of great things going on down here with new retail, dining and entertainment spots opening up. The more people that experience our downtown means the more people will come back in the future,” said Diane Dowing from the Firefly American Bistro.
For the evening, area restaurants will bring some of their best dishes to retailers throughout the downtown area. For one ticket price, people can go from store to store and taste delicious food, and check out what’s new in the area’s retail scene.The Firefly will serve Chicken Farfalle from the dinner menu (marinated chicken breast, crisp pancetta, artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes in a basil pesto cream sauce, served on a bed of farfalle pasta) at E Vision on Elm Street.
“We are excited to be paired with E-Vision,” Downing said. “Not only are they are neighbors, but they are also a new business like us. I think it will be a great partnership and allow both of us to showcase our businesses.”
Pam Kelley of Commercial Street Fishery said her restaurant has done the taste since it opened — three years.
“Justin [Lyonnais, executive chef] asked personally to be paired with Dumbass Gifts because he is an avid ‘Bass fisherman.’ He loves shopping at this store and has become friends with the owner over the years. We take part in the Taste to support our community, of which we are very fond,” she said. “As for what will be served, I have no clue yet, but Justin always seems to rise above and present a stunning offering, so he will no doubt shine again this year.”
Appleton views the taste as “our own celebrity chef thing going on in Manchester.”
“I think they really try to out-do each other. There is so much food in the downtown, from the mom and pop restaurants to ones who can compete with the best restaurants in Boston,” Appleton said.
Cotton owner-chef Jeff Paige said, “We like participating because it’s a great way to remind people about the businesses in downtown Manchester. After work, many people drive home and forget about coming back into town to shop or have dinner. This annual event perfectly showcases what downtown has to offer.”
Some restaurants, such as Richard’s Bistro, use the event to showcase new menu items. Chef Matthew Provencher will serve a celery soup inside George’s Apparel. Weather permitting, he will fry up batches of the restaurant’s new Spanish-style donuts outside on the sidewalk, which will be served with a mocha mousse. He calls it coffee and donuts — a new item on his dessert menu.
“We plan for about 800 to 1,000 people each year, but it’s spread out, so you never really get too busy. You get the chance to talk to people,” Provencher said.
There will be live music along the Taste route, plus wine tastings at select locations. As you visit each stop along the way, get your Taste ticket marked by the restaurant or retailer. Once the ticket is marked by at least 10 host locations, bring it to the Brady Sullivan Plaza to enter to win a $25 gift certificate to a participating Taste merchant of your choice.
Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased (by cash or check only) at Intown Manchester, located on the corner of Hanover and Elm streets, across from City Hall. Or call 645-6285 to reserve a ticket. Only 1,000 will be sold. The price increases to $25 on the day of the event. For a complete list of participants, go to www.intownmanchester.com.
“This is one of the cheapest tasting events in the state,” Appleton said. “Where else can you sample food for less than $1 per restaurant?”