The Food Snob received a tip about a local eatery where few might think of dining, so naturally we had to check it out for ourselves. New Hampshire Hospital, out on Clinton Street, is home to more than just acute psychiatric care - there is a cafeteria on the grounds that is top-notch! Or so we heard. We picked a lovely spring day and headed down to try it out.
The campus is a scenic one, with rolling green lawns and plenty of visitor parking. We walked in the front door, took a right and found ourselves in the cafeteria. It was a bit frenetic, as we arrived right at noon, in the midst of the lunch rush. We were surrounded by patients, doctors and visitors, all queued up and waiting to order. The menu was pretty standard for a cafeteria - burgers, sandwiches and fries - but what really stood out were the prices. There wasn't a sandwich or burger that ran more than $2.25!
The cafeteria also has a rotating cast of lunch specials for all around $3, so my dining companion and I each ordered one of the day's specials and took them out to the red brick patio to chow down. It was an idyllic place to dine, out in the open air at a picnic table, far away from the hustle, bustle and traffic of downtown.
The Snob ordered the steak tips and rice ($2.95), which was quite the bargain. We received a heaping platter with rice pilaf, mixed vegetables and more than a handful of juicy steak tips. The pilaf was tasty, nothing out of the ordinary but nonetheless a serviceable, colorful starch with a salty kiss. The steamed mixed vegetables consisted of green beans, cauliflower, carrots, peppers and mushrooms - a healthy cornucopia. Of course, the stars of the show were the steak tips, and they did not disappoint. They were juicy morsels of steak, marinated all the way to flavor heaven, and there were plenty of 'em.
Our dining companion went with the other special of the day: chicken and dumplings ($2.65). While it probably should have been dubbed "chicken and dumpling," the biscuit was the only skimped-on item. The plate was piled high with gravy-drenched mashed potatoes and accompanied by the same vegetable mix as the other special. The chicken bitlets were tender, tasty and plentiful.
It's worth noting that on the cafeteria's weekly menu, there is nutritional information for each meal, listing the total calories per serving. Now, there's no guarantee that the serving sizes we received were FDA-approved (pretty sure we covered our monthly intake of mashed potatoes), but the meals were certainly well-rounded.
The food was delicious at any price, and for under $3, it was unbeatable. That's like a dollar per pound! We highly recommend dining at the state hospital cafeteria; we only hope we haven't spoiled this hidden gem by unleashing the masses upon it. As one law enforcement officer who was working at the hospital quipped to us: "Don't tell everybody in Concord about this!"
Sorry, officer, it's the Snob's job to inspect and serve.
New Hampshire Hospital is located at 36 Clinton St.