Fine dining in New Hampshire has come a long way. Before, there were only a few choices, or you would have to go over the border to Massachusetts, to find an upscale restaurant. Today, there are a number of restaurants with highly skilled chefs, showing off their mastery in food artistry, in places such as Bedford, Nashua, Manchester Salem, and Portsmouth New Hampshire, that would impress even the most critical foodies.
I had the pleasure of trying a restaurant that I’ve heard a lot of rave reviews about, called TekNique (restaurantteknique.com), this past weekend, in my new “home town” of Bedford, New Hampshire. I recently moved to Bedford this past August. Since it was literally, a five-minute drive from my house, I just had to check it out.
TekNique Restaurant is the creation of Chef Matt Trottier, a life-long chef, getting his start, right here in New Hampshire. He started out as a dishwasher at The Bedford Village Inn, also in Bedford, where his uncle was a chef and later found himself at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY( ciachef.edu), earning his own culinary degree.
*a funny side note is I currently live in the owner of The Bedford Village Inn’s house
He fine tuned his unique take on food combinations and presentation at renowned favorite restaurants, such as Inn at Little Washington (www.theinnatlittlewashington.com), Stone Hedge Inn (stonehedgeinnandspa.com), The Bedford Village Inn(bedfordvillageinn.com), CR Sparks (crstherestaurant.com), Micheal Timothy’s(mtslocal.com), and Giorgio’s(www.giorgios.com).
The restaurant is considered casual, fine dining and was opened in 2011. Not long after Trottier’s opening, he was already getting nods from New Hampshire Magazine (nhmagazine.com), in 2012 for his dish “Free Form Seafood Lasagna” as an “Editor’s pick”, in HIPPO magazine (hippopress.com), being voted as “best new eatery” in 2012, has been featured on Phantom Gourmet(phantomgourmet.com) television show and currently still has a 4 star rating on yelp.com
Here is the link to the Phantom Gourmet’s segment on TekNique
My husband and I made the reservation, last-minute on Saturday afternoon, for Saturday evening. I wasn’t sure if there would be any availability, but it was no problem. We made our reservation for 6:30pm through opentable.com
The restaurant is located at 170 Route 101 in Bedford NH and is easily accessed from both route 293 and 93. It is situated in a plaza with plenty of parking, in the central part of the town.
Walking in to the restaurant, they had autumn decor on the outside door, that look seasonal and inviting. Once you entered the main entrance, there is a large display with the definition of “technique” on the wall, giving the customer an idea of the chef’s vision for his restaurant.
We were warmly greeted by the hostess and welcomed in by the general manager, Brendan Kelly.
The setting was dimly lit with modern decor with hues of earth tones, that was trendy, yet subtle. They played French dinner music that was loud enough to set a mood of relaxation, but not overly loud so you could still have intimate conversion.
Our waitress was very pleasant and knowledgable about all of their offerings on the menu. She brought us our menus and listed the specials. She gave us a moment, then brought us waters and took our drink order. We only ordered soft drinks, but they have an extensive wine list and cocktails.
When she returned with our drinks she also brought us their bread offering. This night it was a homemade lavash topped with seeds, served with a parmesan cream, dressed with olive oil. The cream was very light and fluffy, with a consistency of cappuccino foam. It was salty and creamy and a perfect accompaniment to the crispy lavash.
After finishing the first dish we were excited to browse the menu. They had a good range of items, categorized in sections: Garden, Sea, Field, and Game. I spotted their famous “Free Form Seafood Lasagna” and knew that was the one I had to try. My husband decided to get a little daring and try the “Braised Rabbit Strozzapreti” . Neither one of us has ever tried rabbit and it isn’t something that we normally see on a menu. I almost didn’t let him. I just couldn’t imagine eating a poor rabbit, but who was I to tell him what he can and can’t order. He said, “For the blog!” and he was right. I should let him so that I can tell the readers if this dish is worth killing a bunny for.
We also wanted to try an appetizer. We looked at a few options, like Oysters on a Half Shell, Charcuterie (chefs choice of cured meats) and Tuna Poke, but both wanted to try the Pork Belly.
Our appetizer arrived in a timely manner and the presentation was enticing. The Pork Belly was introduced, plated on a grilled tortilla, topped with avocado, queso fresco and salsa verde. It had a great combination of Mexican-inspired flavors with the saltiness of the pork belly, the crunchiness of the tortilla, the creaminess of the avocado and freshness of the salsa verde with hints of lime and cilantro. We devoured it and longed for more, but just as we yearned for more pork belly, we knew we should save our appetites for the main course.
The waitress came to collect our finished plate and asked if we like it. We both nodded and said, “Yes, it was delicious!” She soon returned with our main entrees. My husband Brice’s rabbit was set in front of him, and my lasagna in front of me. She asked if we wanted fresh cracked pepper or needed anything else and we both declined, on the edge of our seat, excited to dig in….but wait! First, the dreaded, food pic. My husband still rolls his eyes every time I make him wait to eat so that I can get a picture of what we are about to enjoy. One of the drawbacks of being married to a blogger.
The “Braised Rabbit Strozzapreti” was served in a shallow dish and seemed to be a sort of stew. It is made with mirepoix, mushrooms and a vermouth demi. It had a brown gravy that looked very tasty. My husband took his first bite and said, “Wow, this is really good! You need to try this!” I was hesitant and didn’t want to. He said, “You have to so you can write about it.” I said that he could just explain it. He said the rabbit tasted almost like steak, but much more tender. He said it wasn’t gamey or had an after taste, like how lamb sometimes does. He said it did, in fact, taste like a stew. That the mushroom flavors along with the straw noodles and brown vermouth sauce was a perfect complement to the delicate meat. He felt like it was a perfect dish for the fall or winter months. Again, he kept taunting me to try it and putting a small fork-full in front of my face. Over and over he said, “Come on, just try it! You will regret it.”
No, I don’t think I would regret it, but what the hell, I’m eating other meats now, being a born-again meat-eater, after three-and-a- half years being a vegetarian. Why is a rabbit’s life any more special than a cow’s right? Because they are cuter? Cows are cute too.
I did it! And you know what? It was really good!
Time to see what all of the rage is about with this popular dish at TekNique, the Free Form Seafood Lasagna. The dish looked huge. The square, layered, and freshly made sheets of pasta were delicately placed one sheet at a time, with pieces of shrimp, scallop, lobster, Maine crab and drenched in an orange lobster cream sauce that looked mouth-watering.
The texture of the pasta was soft and the cream sauce was out of this world. Each piece of seafood was moist and sumptuous. It was lavish, but still had the overall feel of comfort food. I was extremely pleased I made the decision to try this. It was fantastic!
After dinner, my husband said we should try a dessert. Especially after the impressive dishes we just ate, they got to have some awesome desserts here. I was extremely full, and actually had to bring home the rest of my plate, but was totally down for trying, at least a bite of a dessert here.
The dessert menu was brought to us and it was with a heading “sweet endings“. How appropriate. We were looking through and a few items caught our eye, like the Baked Alaska, Lemon Tart and the Molten Chocolate Truffle Cake, but we ended up deciding on one to share, the Tiramisu Donuts. I was looking forward to having a few bites of this decadent dessert with a cappuccino to end our lovely meal.
Unfortunately, they didn’t have cappuccino or espresso there, only regular coffee. Not a huge deal, but I must say, I was a little disappointed. That is something I’m sure people would like at a restaurant of this caliber. (I would like to suggest that to the manager/owner, if he reads this article.)
Our dessert was brought along with our coffees and was served with vanilla ice-cream. It was very rich and tasted like good old-fashioned donuts but with a twist. The coffee mascarpone, ameretto, chocolate and cinnamon sugar adorning each donut square, brought this dessert to a whole new level. This was not Dunkin Donuts!
TekNique was a very good restaurant that offered a casual, fine dining experience, right here in Southern New Hampshire. I can see why people love the Free Form Seafood Lasagna so much and why this is a highly recommended spot in Bedford. In town, we would normally go to The Bedford Village Inn, Canoe or the Copper Door for this type of dining, but now we will be putting TekNique at the top of our list. Not only is the food just as good, if not better, than the other surrounding fine-dining options, but the prices are much lower overall on every dish type. I may not order the rabbit dish next time, not because it wasn’t delicious, but because of my psychological reasoning, that won’t escape my thoughts, but if eating Bugs Bunny doesn’t make you cringe, it’s a must try! I will tell you, however, that I’m craving the “Free Form Seafood Lasagna” as I write this.
Maybe we will go back again next weekend?
Tip: For locals who normally dine at the very popular and always busy Copper Door, and can’t seem to get a reservation on a weekend night (like us), try TekNique. We got a reservation last-minute and it wasn’t over crowded and loud. I think you would be pleasantly surprised at just how good the food is and you would taste the attention to detail, that Chef Trottier puts into every single one of his dishes. They may not have cappuccino, but everything else is on point.
If you don’t live local or can’t get to TekNique to try Chef Matt’s signature dish “Free Form Seafood Lasagna” he shares his recipe and a cooking demo so that you can make it at home. Here’s the link: