Thursday, June 28, 2012

Restaurant Review, Common Man, Concord, New Hampshire, Food needs an upgrade

Let me start out by saying that I am a fan of the Common Man's owner, Alex Ray, and his story of rising from a dishwasher to running a number of New Hampshire Restaurants. That said, I have dined at the Common Man restaurant in Concord a number of times over the years and have not been impressed. We decided to give it one last try. Unfortunately, this visit was just as unremarkable as the others.

Some of you in the Capital region may remember many years ago when this was a diner and then it was torn down to build the current Common Man restaurant. This is a great location for a restaurant just off 93 in Concord and on the way north to the White Mountains and Lake Winnipesaukee. Parking can be challenging when they are busy on weekends, they offer valet but I prefer to park my own car.

We arrived on a recent weekday to a fairly empty parking lot. We entered and stood around for about 5 minutes waiting for a host to show us to our seats. The atmosphere reminds me of a big colonial house with a lot of tables sprinkled throughout. There are two large dining rooms on the first and second floor along with one small bar on the first floor and a much larger one on the second.

We ordered a couple of drinks and settled in for what I hoped would be an improved experience. While trying to decide what to order for dinner, we enjoyed their self serve cracker and cheese station. They offer a nice selection of cheeses as well as two dips to go with the crackers. If you end up at the Common Man, I recommend that you check it out.

Because we've dined here in the past, I've found the food has been okay but nothing great. The menu offers some New England favorites like meat loaf, pot roast and roasted chicken along with seafood and some steaks. To be honest, I usually can't think of anything that I really like.

We both looked at the menu with blank and puzzled stares for a long time time trying to figure out what to try for an appetizer. Finally, we ageed to sample their buffalo chicken tenders. Sadly, they turned out to be a real disappointment. They came out with blue cheese dressing and hot buffalo sauce for dipping (I expected the sauce to all ready be on them) and I think they were frozen not freshly made or at least they tasted like it. These were mediocre and I expect a lot more from an Alex Ray restaurant. One appetizer that I do like are the camp crackers. In retrospect, we should have gone with that.

Deciding on dinner was no easy task either but we went with something simple, burgers from their grill menu, thinking to ourselves how bad can that be. So we ordered up a couple steakhouse burgers with smothered onions and cheese. After they came out I knew we were in trouble. First, the bun was stale. Second, fries barely cooked enough. Third, my wife ordered her burger cooked medium but it came out well done. To top it off, the smothered onions tasted like they were out of a jar. Our waitress took the old burger away and after another 10 minutes came out with another one that was correct.

A little later the manager came by and comped the chicken tender appetizer. It was appreciated but not enough for what turned out to be another miserable experience.

Our waitress was friendly and efficient, no complaints.

One other thing, at the end of the meal the waiter or waitress always ask if we want some of their white chocolate and we always decline. How about offering dark chocolate for those who do not like white chocolate?

So there you have it, Unfortunately I can not recommend the Common Man and this is not the first bad experience I have had here. The food is in serious need of an upgrade.
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