Ignite Bar & Grille, Manchester, NH

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | June 9th, 2011 | Restaurant Reviews

Living in New Hampshire, my husband and I are quite used to the lack of late night dining options. However, we didn’t fully realize how early restaurants stop serving dinner on a weekend night until this past winter.

We had season tickets to the Palace Theatre in Manchester, all for shows on Saturday nights at 7:30. Preferring a later dinner, we planned to stroll the downtown and have a meal after the show. Luckily for us, the first show ended a few minutes before 9:30, and we were able to find a restaurant that would serve dinner. However, as the season progressed, the shows ran later, and we discovered that 9:30 seemed to be the hard and fast ending to dinner service. Not wanting diner food, we began to ponder our options.

Thankfully after a winter of shivering while searching for food, we opened our eyes and discovered Ignite, right next door to the theatre. Literally. How we missed it, I’m not sure, but we were grateful for the discovery.  Serving food until 11:00 made them an obvious first choice for us. What made us true fans was the combination of good food, great drinks, and excellent service.

We sat at the bar both nights that we went there and were well cared for by the bar staff. Our water glasses were filled at all times, and kind suggestions for ordering were made.  The bar staff were friendly and conversational without feeling like they invaded our privacy.

During both of our visits I ordered the same item- Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken. It may not be the most exciting dish, but it is one I thoroughly enjoy and that leaves room for some dessert afterward. My first order of this salad was the only flaw in our dining experience. I ordered it in my traditional manner, “Dressing on the side, please.” Apparently I looked like a woman who likes lots of dressing because I received a salad well-coated in dressing and served with an additional side dish of dressing. Being after 10:00 and hungry, I ate my wetter than usual salad. On the second attempt, I ordered it dry with dressing on the side and was thoroughly delighted with my crisp lettuce, shredded parmesan, croutons, and dressing on the side.

On our first visit my husband ordered the Bruised Burger, made with cajun seasoned beef and topped with melted bleu cheese. As a connoisseur of burgers, he found this burger to be delicious. The burger was cooked to his order of medium and had a healthy amount of bleu cheese. During our second visit, he ordered the Shrimp Mac and Cheese. This dish was comfort food at its best: creamy, rich, and topped with six large shrimp.

Our beverages were well made also. Each time we went I tried a different fruity concoction. Following my typical quest for a drink that is light, not overly sweet, and has a hint of fruit, they executed well.  My husband ordered much simpler beverages that consisted of bourbon on the rocks. However, they did have a decent selection, which made his choice more interesting.

We have a few months until the theatre season begins again.  However, I don’t think we will wait until then to return to Ignite.  The full experience of food, drinks, and customer service make it an easy choice for dinner, even late at night.

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