Hippo Manchester
August 4, 2005

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All-you-can-read guide to breakfast

Be you ever-so hungry, there are plenty of places around here for the morning meal

By Jack “jaQ” Andrews 

Breakfast and brunch buffets are becoming increasingly hard to find in Nashua and Manchester — especially at a palatable price.

The Tenderloin Room at the Chateau no longer serves their $7.50 buffet and the Nashua Buffet Lunch Restaurant has morphed into a pizza place.

But fear not! Vast all-you-can-eat spreads are still out there, with enough sausage, waffles and fruit to feed an army. You just need to know where to look.

Sitting inside the Highlander Inn on the grounds of the Manchester Airport, Basil’s Restaurant sticks to the breakfast side of brunch. Chef Doug McDaniel says the buffet breakfast started in order to cater to the wedding parties that often stayed at the inn.

“You’d get 40, 50 people within an hour,” he said. “It was just easier this way.”

Eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, gravy, fresh fruit and assorted pastries await the hungry at Basil’s. McDaniel says most Sundays, he handles the whole breakfast himself. He estimates that most breakfast diners are guests at the hotel, but about 20 percent are from outside.

For the true brunch experience, you have to look beyond breakfast. At The Yard Restaurant, Mammoth Road and South Willow Street, Manchester, you can pack an entire day’s worth of meals into a single trip. All the breakfast foods are represented, from waffles, French toast, eggs and home fries to fresh fruit and cheese, bagels, cinnamon rolls and doughnuts. But those are just for starters.

Carving stations feature ham, turkey and roast beef. Soup and potato selections vary each week, as do some main entrees. Executive Chef Dennis Hickey particularly enjoys making the lasagna and the drunken mussels, which are rinsed and steamed in garlic butter.

Top it all off with award-winning desserts and you might not need another meal that day.

“If you go away hungry, it’s your fault,” Hickey laughed.

You needn’t worry if your party is especially large.

“We can take a football team in here. Huge dining room,” Hickey bragged. Two football teams, in fact — he recalls one Sunday morning when the Manchester Wolves and one of their rival teams, staying at the hotel next door, both ate there simultaneously. No trash talking was reported.

The Speaker’s Corner Pub at the Crowne Plaza Nashua Hotel goes even further.

“As soon as you sit down, we give you a glass of champagne,” explained Executive Chef Martin LeGay. “You can toast your table. A lot of times people going out to brunch are celebrating something.”

Their brunch menu includes all the standard favorites plus peel-and-eat shrimp and other seafood specialties. Past seafood entrees have included coconut-encrusted mahi-mahi, lemon dill marinated salmon and haddock au gratin.

On the buffet table each week sits a freshly carved ice sculpture.

 “We try to get that grand hotel feeling,” LeGay said. “You walk in and BOOM.”

LeGay prides himself on offering hospitality, not just food. Over the years, customer requests have become standard fare, from a waffle station to the option of getting egg whites or Egg Beaters made into omelettes.

LeGay runs a scratch kitchen, making all sauces, dressings and everything else in-house. He’s been cooking since the age of 13, and attended the Johnson & Wales culinary school. After working in New York City and Boston, he came to the Crowne Plaza four years ago. Speaker’s Corner used to do a simpler breakfast buffet, and LeGay wants to expand it further to include live entertainment.

Even though his restaurant is located in a hotel, LeGay estimates that most of his business comes from people who live in the region.

“We have people that come in every week and are excited to see what the special entree or the seafood is. The omelet guy or the carver knows customers by name ... I think when it comes to the local area, we’re fortunate that they support us,” he said.

There’s still one more option if you really want to arrive in style: a limo.

The Country Tavern at 492 Amherst St., Nashua, is known for its limo and dinner package. While it’s rare for people to book a limousine for brunch, according to owner Jon Randall, it’s not unheard of.

Among the offerings here are your standard breakfast items, an omelet station with 15 ingredients and four rotating luncheon entrees.

The Country Tavern has been in business about 23 years, and Randall has owned it for almost 10. But the brunch buffet is a fairly recent switch.

“People feel buffet is a better value,” he said. A number of customers were being lost every week because they came in looking for a buffet and were told it was a sit-down brunch. When he changed the format to the buffet customers wanted, they packed his dining room.

“We’ve definitely done way better,” he said.

If it’s a better value for the customer, then, is it really more profitable to the restaurant?

“Only because it brings in more people,” Randall said. “Volume is the key.”

That’s how everyone wins. Diners get more food for their money, and restaurateurs attract more people to their tables — as long as the public knows about it. It’s obviously not a strategy that works if every restaurant in town adopts it, but there’s clearly demand for more buffets on Sunday.

Buffet guide

Many places serve a fine sit-down breakfast or brunch, but if it’s an all-you-can-eat smorgasboard you crave, try out these places. And make sure your pants aren’t too tight. Sunday breakfast/brunch buffets are offered during the times listed.

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Basil’s Restaurant

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Highlander Inn

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2 Highlander Way, Manchester

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625-6426 x534

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7:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

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$10.95 adults, $6.95 under 10

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Bickford’s

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1000 South Willow St.,

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Manchester

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668-5775

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1050 Second St., Manchester

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627-9550

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217 Daniel Webster Hwy.,

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Nashua

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888-2351

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356 Amherst St., Nashua

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889-8385

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8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

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$10.95

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Cafe on the Park

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Radisson Hotel Manchester

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700 Elm St.

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625-1000

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7:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

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$10.95 adults, $5.95 under 10,

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under 2 free

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Country Tavern Restaurant

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452 Amherst St., Nashua

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889-5871

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10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

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$14.95 adults, $7.95 under 10

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Speaker’s Corner Pub

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Crowne Plaza Hotel

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2 Somerset Parkway, Nashua

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886-1200

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9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

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$16.95

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Michael Timothy’s Urban Bistro

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212 Main St., Nashua

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595-9334

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10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

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$19.95 adults, $8.95 under 12

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The Yard Restaurant

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Mammoth Rd.

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& South Willow St.

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623-3545

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10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

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$15.95 adults, $7.95 under 10,

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under 3 free

Omelet tips

We all know that in order to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs. What you don’t need to do is burn them or give yourself salmonella by serving them runny. Chef Dennis Hickey of The Yard Restaurant offers these helpful tips for making that perfect omelet.

•Use a non-stick skillet and a rubber spatula.

•Pre-heat your skillet before putting any eggs in.

•The hotter your skillet, the faster you should cook to avoid burning the eggs.

•Lift up the cooked portion and let any liquid pour into the skillet.

•When all the liquid is gone, flip the omelet and distribute your toppings.

•Slide the omelet partway onto a plate, then use the edge of the skillet to fold it in half.

That last tip not only gives you a picture-perfect fold, mind you. It also makes you look pretty darn badass.