Cabonnay: New Hampshire’s Best Restaurant Maybe Ever
Fresh, Oasis and Bliss. This is the concept by the newest restaurant in Manchester, NH-Cabonnay.
I promise that you will not have been in any other restaurant like this one, not in Boston, not in New York, not in LA
It is in a sprawling 9,000 square foot building. There is empty floor space wherever you look. It has an industrial vibe about it with exposed steelwork ceilings and concrete floors. And yet…..utterly calming. Owner and CEO, Cornelius de Jong has managed to create an impressive unique dining experience out of a rundown building in Manchester.
I imagine anyone who had talked to Mr. de Jong a year ago would have thought this was a pie in the sky dream. That his concept of creating a space that was driven by the care and concern for the guests comfort would fall wayside to cost and the need to produce as much revenue generating space as possible. Nope. It is how he imagined it.
There is a bar (the Bliss Bar) that is all white and silver, very chic and fun at the same time. There is upbeat music playing and a projector displaying urban scenes on a blank wall. It totals 24 seat between the 4 tables and bar seats.
There are three separate dining rooms. The first floor space 9 (Called Fantasy dining) only seats 2 or 4 people. Tables are never pushed together. If you are a larger party, then you will be sitting upstairs in one of their other 2 dining rooms. Your senses are overwhelmed as you are seated. There is a lovely soothing soundtrack playing, a blank wall is has peaceful wine country scenes are being displayed from the projector, and the tables are very comfortably arranged to give a feeling of space. You feel as if you are being seated at a friend’s house.
There are two other dining rooms on the second floor, (the conservatory ) overlooking the rooftop deck, with soothing music and winter and summer vistas and city views; and The Oasis,soothing sounds and wine country video projections with stimulating visuals. Which boasts mountain views accompanied by the sounds and visuals of tranquility. This elegant ballroom will make you feel like you are visiting a friend’s estate in England. The rooftop deck completes the seating areas. The rooftop deck is slated to have plants growing that will supply the kitchen in perhaps the most farm-to-table example I have ever seen.
You would be happy dining here if the food wasn’t all that good. But it isn’t, the food is exceptional! Quality that you would expect at a James Beard restaurant. Great care is taken with all aspects of each plate. Fresh ingredients beautifully paired to showcase the star of the plate.
Head Chef Christopher Viaud is a master of the farm-to-table concept. Chef Chris comes to Cabonney from Deuxave ((pronounced DOO-auve), and Chef Chris Coombs. Chef Chris is soft-spoken, engaging and passionate about food. At a young age he fell in love with the idea of creating art through food, bringing people together through cuisine, and changing the world one taste bud at a time.
Pastry chef, Aurélien Blick was raised in the heart of the champagne region in France. Vegetables are an important part of Chef Aurélien’s dessert creations. He uses fresh local ingredients to create truly unique desserts.
What We Ate
We started with the pork belly and confit chicken thigh. The pork belly came with a fried quail egg, fried fiddleheads, pickled ramps, and roasted oyster mushrooms. The pork belly had crispy skin and the meat just melted on your tongue. The confit chicken thigh had black quinoa, rhubarb puree, pistachio sprinkles and celery leaves. The dish had it all, crispy, crunchy, sweet, a little tart.
Next we had the cheese tray. This was a selection of 3 local cheeses accompanied by a strawberry thyme compote, pickled ramps, honeycomb, whole grain mustard and toasted bread. First, the bread had a crispy crust and a soft chewy interior. The strawberry thyme compote was lick your plate delicious and the honeycomb was perfect. The cheeses were excellent with the camembert being a standout.
I had the Roasted NY Sirloin with toasted polenta cubes, shaved purple carrots, pearl onions and fresh English peas in a smoked pea reduction. Steak was cooked a perfect rare and the accompaniments paired perfectly. Sharon had the Roasted Salmon with herb risotto, English peas, baby fennel gastrique, roasted beets and meyer lemon aioli. She said the risotto was hands down the best she has ever had in this country.
The dessert menu is actually quite large with six unique offerings. We tried the Variations of chocolate and hay which has chocolate cream, cacao, chocolate tuiles, hay ice cream and a little gold leaf for pizazz. It was addicting and another dish where we wanted to lick the plate. We also tried the Rice Porridge with basmati ice cream, Heirloom tomatoes, Tomato syrup, and a rice crisp. We didn’t know what to expect from this but it was excellent. No even a bit of moisture was left on the plate.
- Cabonnay does not take cash. It only takes credit/debit cards.
- No kids allowed unless it is a private event. In any case, no highchairs. Under 21, must be accompanied by an adult. It’s an “adult artful environment with complex food profiles not suitable for kids,”
- HOURS: 5pm – 10pm Tuesday-Sunday (hours will expand after opening May 2017)
- COCKTAILS & BEER: COMING END MAY – We are a wine-focused restaurant we have LIMITED Cocktails and SELECT Beers: Custom creations changing frequently. No fake mixers.
- PARKING: Ample city parking. Parking spaces available directly across building on Bridge street, Pearl street lot, Victory Garage.
- DRESS: Comfortably Elegant / Dressy – No Baseball Caps, No T-Shirts, No Sweatshirts, No Flip-Flops
To end the way I started.
Fresh: The freshest ingredients used in innovative and creative ways
Oasis: The design and atmosphere are specifically created for your comfort
Bliss: The feeling you have at the end of your experience
Located at 55 Bridge Street, Manchester, NH