Name: Country Kitchen
City: Newport, NH
Place: 339 Sunapee St. Newport, NH 03773
***** – “Oh mamaaaaa!”
$$ – Cheap enough to double up on dessert!
Small towns are hit-and-miss in terms of food. Sometimes, they just have restaurant chains and lack unique, local flavor. Sometimes, a couple of local restaurants exist around town, but the lack of competition keeps them in mediocrity. However, sometimes, you can find a local institution that has been there forever and has become the hangout of the town’s population. This situation seems to embody Newport, New Hampshire’s own Country Kitchen. New Hampshire is a wonderful winter vacation destination for the skiing and a spectacular summer vacation destination with tons of outdoor activities to do and all the lovely lakes to see. I was lucky enough to pass through the tiny, quaint town of Newport in the beautiful Lake Sunapee region this past winter. Our local guide, Uncle Mike, took us to Country Kitchen, the local breakfast/brunch spot on a lazy, Saturday morning. Walking in, you hear the hustle and bustle of a local meet-up spot. The whole town seems to be crowded inside this lively breakfast joint. It has a very homey, neighborhood feel with the ol’ classic seating at the counter along with regular seating.
I have a general rule about small town restaurants. If they have a namesake special, order it. It’s what they are proud of. It’s what they must be known for. Thus, I inevitably ordered the “Country Special.” The “Country Special” was basically an Eggs Benedict with a sausage gravy instead of hollandaise sauce and sausage instead of Canadian bacon. This immortal delight takes the bourge a.k.a. ‘bouge’ a.k.a. the sophistication out and bringing in some classic, fatty Country. With that basic concept, you know it has to be wonderful. The key to the tastiness of the good ol’ “Country Special” is the abundance of the sausage gravy. I’m all for hollandaise sauce, but if you get a good, savory gravy, nothing can beat it. This rich and smooth gravy was scattered with little bits of sausage. Sausage smothered in sausage gravy? What?!? Double sausage you say?? Ohhhhhhhh mamaaaaaaaaaa!! The nice slab of breakfast sausage is a great substitute for Canadian bacon and it fits much better in taste with the gravy. Double sausage = twice as nice! They keep it simple with the breakfast sausage pattie. It is tender and just serves to mesh with the country, breakfast flavor. On top of the sausage, sloshed with gravy over the top, is the poached egg that is the essential to the classic Eggs Benedict. The poached egg was perfectly cooked as one small poke and the yolk flowed down and through the entire dish. I know some of you are thinking, what??? Yolk mixed with sausage gravy? But, it works! The yolk has a powerful enough taste that you taste it right on top of the filling gravy. The English muffin soaks in enough of the gravy and yolk, but not enough to become soggy and crumbly in your mouth.
I love that this whole dish is drowned in this creamy, thick gravy. This wealth of gravy allows their ‘home fries’, which are basically cube-shaped seasoned potatoes, to swim in deliciousness. If you need extra flavor, dip some potatoes in the gravy. The ‘home fries’ are a satisfying complement. They have a nice, crisp seasoning and pleasing crunch from being deep-fried, but nothing out-of-this-world, which is fine for a complement. Not only are they petite flavor explosions, they also work perfectly as a mop, wiping the plate clean of gravy. You know I love a clean plate, so the ‘home fries’ proved to be a useful tool in renewing my membership of the Clean Plate Club.
We also had an order of table pancakes to share. After the “Country Special”, there is no better way to top off a hearty brunch than with a thick pancake that is as fluffy as a cloud. Their pancake is a fine dessert to your meal. It’s about a half-inch thick and as big as your face. Pour some sweet syrup all over it and you have yourself a fitting, filling end to your meal. After one pancake, I felt satisfied to perfection. It fills up any open space you have left in your tummy and leaves your mouth with a splendid, sweet taste.
Another wonderful aspect of the ol’ small town restaurant is the prices. My dish cost $7.99 and the table pancakes were just another couple of dollars. For a big brunch, that is not too bad. It earns the $$ – Cheap enough to double up on dessert! rating. The “Country Special” shows you how some simple food items that are unspectacular alone can fit together perfectly into a delicious and terrific taste puzzle. Does this dish have a ton of fat in it? Absolutely! Is it good for your health? Absolutely not! Does it taste good though? Yes, yes, yes! I’m not your diet expert. I’ll tell you where you’ll be satisfied with a good meal, fatty or not. We all know that the best taste comes from fat too, so don’t worry about the fat for one day and indulge yourself in a tasty meal. This meal earns the ***** – “Oh mamaaaaa!” rating. So, visit New Hampshire. Enjoy the outdoors and scenery. Spoil yourself with a fatty meal at the Country Kitchen. You’ll be yelping, “Ohhhhhhh mamaaaaaa!” during the meal and admittedly maybe a couple hours or a couple years later too!
After the Country Special, if you’re not filled with glee, your meal is on me! Special thanks to Uncle Mike for bringing me here and Jeff and JT for being my food partners!