Turn the bus around and head to the Port Authority Cafe in downtown Keene, NH. We have been trying to eat at this little restaurant in Keene for some time. They are small, with table seating for a dozen or more inside, another dozen or so outside in summer+, and a small counter. And they do not seat parties larger than four. And, they are often crowded, especially on weekends. So we went on a Thursday night, and were the only customers. Mark, the owner welcomed us telling us we had our own personal chef tonight.
Well, now that we finally made it in, this is going to be one of our top go-to places in Keene. The food is incredible. Lots of fresh local ingredients, including local meats. A lot of ethnic variety, which we love. But for vegetarians and vegans, there is a lot to choose from. And every dish is well prepared and beautifully presented. The decor is trendy casual, very relaxed, friendly and welcoming.
It was a tough choice with this menu, not huge, but every dish is unique and interesting, appealing to different palettes. Nearly a dozen burger choices as well as another dozen or more veg, vegan, and meaty sandwiches, a few main dishes, some salads, six soups. We finally ordered the African Peanut Soup, Somali Lamb Stew, and the Salmon Burger. My wife and I shared all three.
The soup was a smooth and creamy light bisque, with a wonderful peanut flavor, but not overpowering. If you've never had peanut soup, you are missing a great southern treat. This soup had a wonderful bouquet of spices, with peanut and vegetables cooked in, and garnisheed with scallion and a drizzle of hot sauce. Definitely another world from the peanut soup we enjoyed in Charleston, SC.
The lamb stew was served with a multigrain mix (Kashi?) and a side of (sauteed?) greens, I am not sure what kind (because I am not smart enough to recognize or ask), but I think they were mustard greens. The stew was spicy and hot (not at all killer hot) with great flavors of cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, and a host of other spices. The meat was soft. The greens were tender and delicious. The grain a perfect complement.
The salmon burger was an attempt to recreate the amazing fare from some fancy hotel, I don't recall which, and frankly I don't really care, as long as I can get this incredible sandwich in Keene. Regardless of whether or not Mark matched it, he has created a fabulous sandwich. It was sweet and a bit spicy, with a great salmon flavor coming through, and a wonderful sauce. Even the bun was excellent, not your usual sandwich bun. It came with a side salad of Napa (I think) and Red Cabbage.
Everything we ate had a wonderful array of spice and a bit of heat. No two dishes tasted alike, and even the sides were unique and perfectly matched to the main dish it accompanied. The Port Authority even has a good selection of bottled beer from small and large brewers, US and imported. Not a huge selection, but something for everyone.
So, for all that, with three beers, we walked out for about $43 for the two of us (tip and tax extra). Pretty darned good, if you ask me. We will be back. Did I say I love this place?
BTW, I rated Port Authority Very Good rather than Excellent for Romance and Special Occasions, because it is not really that type of place. But if you are not that type of person, you will enjoy great food for a romantic or special occasion. BYOR - Bring Your Own Romance.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.