Review Reviews: Six South Street Bistro

The foremost and often overlooked aspect of a restaurant review is first to make sure that said restaurant is open. The night started with a walk down Main Street, as most do when one inevitably grows weary of Dartmouth Dining Services. Boston-based consultant Hampton Worthmuch and hard-partying social justice activist Ekval Litty accompanied tried-and-true reviewers Gil Hanlon and Sheriff Rick Grimes, traveling four abreast down the sidewalk, a force to be reckoned with for anyone walking in the other direction. However, when they arrived at the Six South Street Hotel, they found the lobby devoid of diners or food. Confirming the eatery was indeed closed on Mondays, the colleagues headed back the way they came as Gil made the plea to choose a campus dining option, “Look, I know you guys are sick of DDS,” Gil noted, “But there are 150 NARPs at upstairs FoCo just waiting to be picked on.” Ekval bristled at Gil’s domineering masculinity, and recommended the group find a much safer space. Thus, the quartet decided to head over to one of their reliable watering holes, the recently reviewed Salt Hill Pub.  Plans were made to alternatively review the restaurant the next day so the four headed their separate ways, searching for sweet basement nectar to quench their unrelenting thirsts.

The next day, Hampton and Ekval starved themselves in preparation for their glorious feast. Gil, on the other hand, could not control himself. Succumbing to the rumblings of his stomach, he gorged himself on smoked venison left over from his hunting expedition through the college grant. Ekval headed to the restaurant early in order to take a seat at the bar and discern the bistro’s vibes, while Hampton, as always, was preoccupied sending and receiving multitudes of emails. Ekval ordered a surprisingly affordable $3 glass of Switchback Ale, courtesy of Six South Street’s Terrific Tuesdays special, and commended the restaurant for supporting local breweries over national corporations. As the hour approached, the men received devastating news: Sheriff Rick Grimes’ village had been attacked once again, and his well-deserved vacation was to be put on hold. Despite the supreme devastation of losing a drinking companion of Mr. Grimes’ caliber, the duo reluctantly decided to carry on their quest for boozy beverages and delectable cuisine.

“Alright guys, none of the drinks on this menu are really up to my standards, but I feel like my body is telling me to fill it up with some sugary cocktails, what should I get?” proposed Gil. To Mr. Worthmuch, the question was preposterous: “Would it not be fitting for a son of Dartmouth to indulge in this here concoction, “The Big Green?” Gil was not having it: “No way Jorge, a Malibu-based cocktail? I can’t even drink that stuff straight, let alone when it’s surrounded with sugary fluff.” Upon closer inspection, Gil realized the drink was right up his alley. The alcohol-to-cost ratio seemed competitive as the drink contained Bacardi, Malibu, Sour Apple Pucker, Blue Curacao, sour mix, and pineapple. Gil beckoned to the bartender, signaling his need for libation and addressed him by the peculiar name on his shirt. “Heads, I’m going to try the Big Green, although I must say it is my least favorite of Dartmouth’s mascots.” As Heads began to mix the different liqueurs, it became apparent that the only significant non-alcoholic component to the drink was a small dash of pineapple juice poured on top. Gil began to wonder if the drink would taste too strong. “You won’t be complaining with this one,” assured Heads, the bartender, who explained to the trio that he only drinks Heineken. “The only complaints I get here come the day after.” “You won’t get one of those from me” said Gil, experienced from decades of liver damage and vicious hangovers. “I know damn well what I’m doing to my body.”

Hampton, intrigued by the green hue of the concoction bargained for a sip. “What’s up with this fruit punch?” he was baffled by the pineapple and sour mix’s ability to mask the alcohol. However, Mr. Worthmuch chose a drink more familiar to him “I’ll have to Tucky Punch. I assume it’s named after Tuck Business School. You know, many of my colleagues attended that institution.” The rest of the company groaned, although they could not argue with the tropical allure of Six South Street’s take on the classic rum punch.

Mr. Litty also chose something more his speed – “The GQ.” Billed as Six South Street’s “answer to the Cosmo” (Mr. Litty was quite well acquainted with Cosmopolitans), The GQ packed a potent punch of Absolut Citron and Cointreau tempered with white cranberry and lime juices. Ekval gingerly lifted the glass to his lips and took a long sip. “Mmm, fruity!” he exclaimed, before puckering his face and wheezing out a comment on the cocktail’s high alcohol quantity. Intrigued, Hampton also took a sip, and agreed, noting that it was “important to leverage such cost-efficient methods of getting housed.”

Noticing the patrons’ fascination with the cocktails, Heads pointed out that SSS has some of the more competitive drink specials in the Upper Valley. Terrific Tuesdays and Wicked Wednesdays boast $3 beers on tap and $6 glasses of wine respectively. Their other standout deal was $5 margaritas on Fabulous Fridays, an affordable and tasty way to start any weekend.

Before the alcohol when straight to the diners’ heads, they thought it a good idea to order some appetizers, their modus operandi. The trio decided on the fried artichoke basket, creamy kale dip, and chicken bites, adhering to Heads’ recommendation. The chicken bites were delectable, comprised of juicy, boneless chicken with a light crispy breading. These weren’t your average McNuggets, but it was clear that the chef, who Heads later mentioned had no formal culinary experience, was trying to add an air of luxury to the traditional bar fare. However, the most captivating aspect of the dish was the whole grain Vermont maple mustard provided for dipping. The sweet and savory condiment artfully enhanced the chicken bites, the perfect vehicle for the mustard.

The artichoke broke the monotony of the fried smorgasboard. The flower was chopped into bite size pieces before being fried and served with a roasted garlic aioli dipping sauce. Hampton, not the biggest fan of the edible buds, was pleasantly surprised, “Finally, a preparation of artichoke that hasn’t caused me to choke!” Ekval, the vegetarian amongst the group, devoured the basket voraciously while lecturing his companions on the importance of foods that did not “visit cruelty on fellow living creatures.” Gil didn’t even touch the appetizer; he had other thoughts on his mind, “How has nobody heard of this place? Is it the distance from campus or just a marketing problem?” Six South Street, for those of you too fearful to venture past the post office, is one of the two hotels in town, and whose restaurant rivals Pine of the Hanover Inn. Worthmuch, realizing the potential of his expertise in this situation, began bouncing ideas: “What if you offered up free drink samples on the green? With competitive drink pricing like this, surely the bar would be a haven for those fed up with the hard alcohol ban!” Heads, however, had second thoughts about Hampton’s aggressive marketing campaign, believing that the food would sell itself; and was he right.

Before the reviewers could place their order, they were interrupted by the sound of what today’s youth refers to as a “party foul” glass shattering on the floor as a pint slipped through the hands of a local patron. However, in almost magical fashion, the mess vanished and another beer appeared in the hand of the customer as fast as one could blink. In astonishment. the trio turned to Heads, who merely winked. There was something mysterious about the bartender, but the diners thought it best not to dig too deep. Across the bar they heard the foul’s friends chastise him: “Looks like someone’s gonna need to drive him home!” Heads was quick to respond with a jest as he had been doing all night: “Don’t worry everyone, my car has cruise control!” the restaurant erupted in laughter as Heads salvaged the mood. The crew placed their orders and waited patiently until their food arrived.

A steak at Six South Street Bistro in Hanover, NH.

A steak at Six South Street Bistro in Hanover, NH.

Worthmuch, craving the visceral experience of cutting up red meat after being disturbed by Litty’s vegetarian tendencies, ordered the Robie Farm hand-cut New York strip. Hampton ordered the meat rare, however, after the first cut, he was disappointed to find the steak medium rare, a critical, yet important distinction for one judging slabs of cow meat. However, the accompanying potatoes, which were roasted with garlic and romano cheese, sent him to culinary Shangri La. The wine demi-glace complimented the meat and potatoes perfectly making for a hearty and satisfying entree. The asparagus brought the meal together. The veggies had been cooked at a high temperature as to give an almost crunchy texture on the outside doing away with the mealy attributes vegetables too often demonstrate.

 

Hampton had little time to speak between bites as Ekval and Gil carried the conversation throughout the main course. Gil, in his typical refined fashion, elected to tell the gang about a gruesome injury he had received in a recent pickup basketball game. When one of Gil’s younger Dartmouth opponents leaped to save a ball from going out of bounds, he retrieved the ball and hurled it straight back towards the court, hitting Gil in is nether region at point-blank range. Heads, intrigued by the story, told a about a time when he was playing shortstop without a cup and was hit in the same area by a fast moving, bouncing ground ball. Heads’ fate was worse, everybody agreed, but what sport would be the worst for getting hit in the privates (sans cup)? The group rigorously analyzed all the angles and conducted a series of mathematical calculations to argue their theories. Mr. Worthmuch had an inkling that hockey would be an underrated option, as slapshots at high levels fire into the crease at speeds approaching 100 MPH. Gil proposed one of his favorite sports, lacrosse, where the ball travels at the same speed but is a more painful spherical shape. After much debate, Heads mentioned an alternative that quickly became the undisputed consensus answer – golf. He recounted a story of an errant line drive which had made impact with a young man’s nether regions, quickly putting an end to his dreams of having children. The trio went back to their meal, questioning the path their discussion had taken.

As the group took the last bites of their entrees, Hampton and Gil began to show signs of weariness. However, a much-inebriated Ekval Litty, who had taken pains to stay ahead of his drinking companions, insisted on ordering dessert, and of course, another round of drinks to accompany this final course. The group dived into their chocolate mousse cake, a rich and smooth concoction topped with refreshing berries. It was soon apparent that Six South Street could deliver a high quality meal across every course

As the meal began to wind down, our heroes wondered aloud why the Dartmouth community had been so oblivious to such an incredible watering hole. Could this be the most underrated establishment in the entire town of Hanover? Indubitably so.