36 deLux Restaurant, Manchester, NH

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | January 26th, 2012 | Restaurant Reviews

When a perennial favorite ceases to exist, it is often difficult to fill the void.  For 36 deLux, that has not held true.  Located in the home of the former Richard’s Bistro, 36 deLux has done a terrific job of providing the same excellent quality of food, service, and atmosphere that its predecessor did.  Of course, the new owner previously was a chef at Richard’s, which may help account for the smooth transition.

Since its opening in November 2011, I have dined there on two different occasions.  The first was a business lunch, which gave me a small glimpse into the workings of 36 deLux.  The second was a leisurely dinner with my husband that gave me the ability to experience more of what the restaurant has to offer.

Meeting the other members of my lunch group, the ten of us were seated at a large table.  Our drink orders were taken, and several bread baskets were provided.  As noted in a previous article, Richard’s Bistro had one of the best bread baskets in New Hampshire.  I eagerly peeked inside the basket and discovered that the bread appeared to be the same.  I took a piece of focaccia, topped it with some sweet butter, and took my first bite.  Immediately I recognized that not only did the bread look the same, it tasted the same: tender and flavorful.

For my entrée, I ordered  my go-to meal, Caesar Salad with Chicken.  The 36 deLux version of the salad did not disappoint.  A decent portion of chopped romaine was topped with perfectly grilled chicken.  Also adorning the salad were parmesan shavings and delicious croutons.  Normally, croutons are a garnish for me: something pretty to look at but not worth eating.  These croutons were unique; made of polenta they had a crunchy coating and a soft middle.  They added a nice dimension to the salad.

After the enjoyable lunch, my husband and I decided to spend a Saturday evening there.  We arrived at 7:30 to a restaurant that was nearly full.  As we didn’t have reservations, we were grateful that we were able to be seated promptly.  Our waitress provided menus and water, and we began reviewing all of our options.

After ordering our appetizer, the waitress delivered our wine and our bread basket.  As I had been anticipating this evening out, I had made sure that I would have an appetite that allowed me to sample a little bit of everything, especially the bread basket.  Usually I like the focaccia the best, but on this evening it seemed to be lacking something in its flavor.  My favorite bread was their roll that contained dill.

We started our ordering with Foie Gras a la “deLux”.  This evening’s presentation was a country style foie gras served with a Nutella sauce and cole slaw.  While my husband adores foie gras, I typically find it to be less exciting.  Knowing that there would be the fabulous bread basket, I figured I wouldn’t eat much of the appetizer.  Was I mistaken.  The foie gras was creamy and delivered excellent flavor.  While I do not enjoy chocolate very much, the Nutella did provide a nice contrast to the foie gras.

My husband ordered the Duck in a Jar as his entrée.  As their menu explains, it is an interesting combination of “carrots, pearl onions, foie gras, duck confit, and goat cheese crusted bread”.  Delivered in the jar and then poured into a bowl, it makes for a fun presentation.  My husband enjoyed the variety of ingredients and the delicious sauce.  Both the goat cheese crusted bread and our basket bread were put to use absorbing every drop of sauce.

I chose an item from the specials menu for my dinner, Pomegranate Braised Lamb Shanks.  The only disappointment to this dish was that the pomegranate was unnoticeable in the dish.  However, the lamb was amazingly tender and flavorful in its own right.  Served with goat cheese polenta, brussel sprouts, roasted corn, and apples, it was a wonderful meal: a delightful combination of flavors and textures that thoroughly pleased my palate.

Although at this point both of us were quite content, we do what we always do.  Sigh, and then peruse the dessert menu.  If we are going to indulge on a night of dining, then it should include a sweet ending.  We ordered the Warm Toffee Pudding, which was served with banana rum sauce and crème anglaise.  This is the perfect dessert for a cold winter night.  The combination of the warm, moist pudding and sweet, creamy sauces provide a delightful combination of heat and happiness.

In addition to the pudding, we also ordered two Coconut Macadamia Nut Balls.  These little orbs of sweetness were amazing.  They delivered a sugary ending to the meal with fabulous balance.  Yes, they were sweet but being a smaller dessert, it was the perfect amount of sweetness.

At both meals, I received excellent service.  The waitstaff is mindful of refilling water and wine glasses and insuring that the diners are pleased throughout the meal.  Even on a busy Saturday night, there was neither a delay of service nor a rush to have us finish our meal.  36 deLux lives up to its name, it truly is a deluxe dining experience.


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