Review: Black Forest Cafe, Amherst, NH

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | March 17th, 2010 | Restaurant Reviews

After a winter of planning weekend spent indoors with food simmering on the stove all day long, it is wonderful to have sunshine, warm weather, and snow-free roads.  Although it is quite nice to spend a day at home, by early March, cabin fever is rampant.  So, on a recent Saturday, my husband and I made plans to spend most of the day exploring antique and consignment shops.  Of course, being foodies, dining is an important element to our day.  After some online searching for a fun restaurant, we decided to start our day with an early lunch at the Black Forest Café.

I had been to this restaurant previously, but it had been several years.  The one memory that held fast was that their menu had quite a few unique (and tasty) dishes.  Thankfully neither of us those things had changed!

Arriving shortly after they opened at 11:00, we were seated promptly and given menus.  Our waitress, Diane, introduced herself and let us know that there were two wine specials.  Although 11:00 a.m. seemed a bit early for wine, it seemed like the appropriately indulgent thing to order on such a day, and so I chose the Chardonnay.  My husband opted for a tamer drink, the Raspberry Lime Rickey.

While Diane filled our drink order, we were able to review our array of unique choices. When she returned with our beverages, she also had a loaf of homemade bread for us to enjoy.  The bread had a nice crust and was warm, which allowed the butter to melt.  Personally, I could have eaten a couple slices of bread and sipped my wine to make a wonderful meal, but knowing that I wanted to enjoy items from their menu, I opted to enjoy only one slice.

As neither of us had eaten breakfast, we were quite hungry and eager to sample some menu items.  To start our dining we ordered a side dish of hazelnut-breaded sauteed goat cheese and French bread toasts.  The toasts were perfectly crunchy and brushed with some sort of garlic-olive oil infusion.  The goat cheese was warm and spread easily onto the toast.  As we both love cheese, especially warmed, this appetizer was gone in little time.

For my lunch, I ordered the Roasted Butternut Squash and Sage Cheddar Panini.  I had never eaten, nor even thought to make, a panini with squash as its main ingredient.  As someone who adores winter squash, I knew I had to try this.  On the menu the sandwich is described, “We take our own hand-rolled flat bread and fill it with oven roasted butternut squash, sweet caramelized onions, a mix of Grafton Village sage cheddar and feta cheeses, then grill and serve with a savory sage apple sauce for dipping.”  The sandwich was fantastic!  The combination of warm, melted cheese, squash, and apple sauce was perfect.  Plus, the flat bread’s thinness was excellent: thick enough to offer a substantial crunch but thin enough to allow the fillings to shine.

My husband had many options on the menu that he wanted to try.  He had narrowed his choices to two when we placed our order, and upon the recommendation of our waitress, he chose the Shaker Cranberry Brisket, a “Black Forest twist on the traditional New England boiled dinner.  Slow cooked beef brisket made sweet and savory by the addition of our own cranberry sauce, sliced and served with sage cheddar and scallion smashed red potatoes and sauteed broccolini.”  After just a bite or two, he confirmed that Diane had directed him toward the right dish.  The addition of cranberries to the brisket gave this roast delicious flavor that complimented its tenderness.  While not a huge fan of mashed potatoes, he did find the cheddar and scallions made them quite enjoyable.

Finishing our meals, we were offered a view of the dessert menu.  Unfortunately, after homemade bread, an appetizer, and a meal for each of us, there simply was no room left for more.  However, all of the items looked fabulous.  In fact, some weekend, we may reverse our travels: shop for a few hours and then head to the Black Forest Café for some dessert and coffee.  Of course, there are also other lunch and dinner items and a Sunday brunch menu to try.  Regardless to what time of day we choose, it is definite that we will return to this lovely restaurant.

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