The Review Reviews: Salt Hill Pub

After a long hiatus due to their impressively busy schedules, Gil Hanlon and Alfric Macallan reunited in the streets of Hanover and made their way towards a local watering hole famed by students, locals, and faculty alike. Passing by establishments such as Molly’s, Murphy’s, and the esteemed Canoe Club, Gil became worried that he may never find food and that Alfric was leading him into a morsel-void abyss. However, a left turn and a short stroll had them standing in front of the Salt Hill Pub, Hanover’s very own slice of Ireland. Gil was delighted to get off campus after a prolonged stay with his younger brother Phil, the fearless captain at the helm of the College. The 30-proof capstone had taken a toll on Gil, an indiscriminate connoisseur of spirits and liqueurs from far and wide.

Alfric, on the other hand, experienced a sinking feeling in his stomach. A fervent Scotsman, he had several issues stepping foot inside an institution that stood for everything he loathed. He spat on the ground in front of the entrance to let his disgust be made public. Eying a group near the front of the restaurant relishing in a free buffet, tensions began to brew that not even the sweet sounds of the fiddle could soothe. The waitress wandered over and asked if the group were ready for food and drink.

“We need beer!” they demanded in unison.

“Of course you do, here are some that I personally like… let me bring you some tasters!” She understood their plight.

The eldest Hanlon specified that his preference was an India Pale Ale.

“How original!” Alfric replied as he had become bitter of such hops. The waitress recommended two IPAs, one dark, and one lighter.

“Give me whatever is hoppiest,” replied Gil, ever eager to showcase his sophisticated palate to any and all in the vicinity. Soon after, the waitress returned with the ominous sounding Double Black IPA. “Be careful, it’s 8.5% alcohol,” she warned. “Ha, I remember my first beer,” replied Gil, with a heavy dose of machismo. The beer turned out to be dark and hoppy, as expected, but otherwise exceptionally smooth. Gil likened it to a hoppier, more alcoholic Guinness (Gil wanted us at The Dartmouth Review to remind our readers that Guinness should never be drank in the United States, being only appropriate to consume on tap in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where the brew is significantly different – and better – than its American counterpart).

The waitress chose two different amber ales for Alfric: Great Northern Brewing’s Driftboat Amber Ale and Smithwick’s Irish Ale, but, for her own safety, did not announce either beer, thinking it best to let the men decide in an unbiased manner. Upon tasting the irish ale, Alfric spat it out abruptly. “This tastes like bloody leprechaun piss!” Despite its darker color, the beer tasted remarkably like the fermented water rumored to flow through the basements of campus. Washing it down with the Driftboat Amber, Alfric was pleasantly surprised. The beer was heavier with a distinct amber color and hearty bread after taste. Alfric found himself staring into the glass, the amber hue reminding him of a lover long lost.

As to avoid one of their infamous libation sessions, the fast friends decided it necessary to order food, a round of hearty appetizers to soak up the beer. First out of the kitchen was Salt Hill’s famed pulled pork nachos. Despite the pub’s Irish heritage, the chips were shades of red, yellow (read: white), and blue. The pulled pork pork was sweet and tender, qualities of a properly slow cooked pig. Balancing out the sweet pork was the savory cheese and salty chips, along with spicy jalapenos and a ornemental dollop of whip cream crowning the pile. Hands collided as the three reached into the mass of chips, taking special care to pick chips with a balanced proportion of ingredients. What self respecting pub-goer wants a chip with just cheese or jalapenos and no pulled pork? The pile was quickly reduced to rubble as the group prepared for their next appetizer. Merriment was had and another round of drinks was requested.

Alfric and Gil’s attention turned towards one of the many flat screen televisions lining the walls of the establishment. Displayed was a rerun of an European football (read: soccer) match which prompted the duo to rehash their past misadventures. For the year of 1983, President Phil Hanlon’s rambunctious older brother Gil took his talents to a study abroad at King’s College in London. In what will be no surprise to those who know the man well, Gil quickly gained a reputation throughout his dormitory as the uncouth, barbaric, and impolite American. Alfric, however, quickly saw Gil for what he was, a phenomenal drinker, unstoppable womanizer, and most importantly, a legendary pub warrior.

The two became the best of friends instantaneously, starting trouble on the streets of the west end, gambling in Soho’s sleazy casinos, and occasionally partaking in a class-fueled skirmish at one of central London’s signature student watering holes. Despite their supreme compatibility, Alfric, a die hard fan of Glasgow’s famed Celtic football club, at first had a difficult time convincing Gil to share his love for European football. “These p***ies never even score,” Gil would say. “Where’s the contact, where are the MEN on this field? Any sport where someone 5’6” can be a world class player sure ain’t no sport to me.”

“‘Did you just say ‘p***y?’” replied Alfric, highly offended and triggered.

Eventually, Alfric realized that the answer to sharing with Gil his love of football had been in front of him all along. One Saturday afternoon, Alfric took Gil to Islington, then one of the most unseemly and dangerous neighborhoods in inner London, to watch a match between Arsenal and Watford at “The Round House,” a famed football pub. Gill couldn’t derive much excitement from the game itself, but he enjoyed the dark beer and the surrounding debauchery of the Arsenal “hooligans,” as they were called.

To the delight of the pub’s patrons, Arsenal ultimately pulled ahead 3-1 late in the second half, the lead becoming more insurmountable by the minute. Gil was getting bored, but Alfric knew that he had to keep his beloved American within the premises for just a few more minutes. “You can’t leave yet mate, you still haven’t seen the reason we’ve come.”

It was just then that nearly two dozen Watford supporters rushed into the pub, screaming obscenities that even the foul-mouthed Gil had not heard. Alfric turned to his American counterpart: “You feeling like an Arsenal fan today? Or more of a Watford bloke?”

Gil smiled. “Looks like our Watford boys are outnumbered mate, they could use some AMERICAN STEEL on their side!” The details following this very moment are hazy, but at at least one moment Gil stood up on one of the bars’ tables, proclaiming “I love this sport!” while holding an unfortunate Arsenal supporter by the collar of his shirt. The details from the rest of Gil’s time in London are hazy as well, but this wasn’t his last rodeo within London’s thriving “hooligan” scene.

The waitress, oblivious to memories the duo were reliving, interrupted them with an order of twelve juicy bone-in wings Gil must have ordered by mistake. For some reason or another, the wings were split with regards to flavor, featuring honey sriracha and a house dry rub. The wings were excellently prepared as the crispy outer layer gave way to the tender chicken hiding beneath. Honey brought out sweet aftertones to mellow the heat of the sriracha culminating in an extremely satisfying wing. The dry rub presented an interesting new take on a classic. Without sauce, the crunch of the fried skin could shine, yet the rub lingered with assorted spices giving it the hot quality one looks for in wings. There was very little conversation during this part of the meal as the duo went from wing to wing, amassing a pile of bones that would make even a curator of the Parisian catacombs jealous.

The Poutine Tower: Truly a life-changing experience.

The Poutine Tower: Truly a life-changing experience.

Just as the two thought they could eat no more, Gil caught a looming object in his peripheries. Could it be? An appetizer they forgot they even ordered? The waitress, struggling even to carry the constructed tower of food, placed the plate on the table. The impact of ceramic and wood sent tremors through the table and up the diners arms as they stared in awe at the spire before them. “This is our take on the French-Canadian classic poutine,” explained the waitress as Alfric, quick to the draw, stabbed his fork into the pillar of french fries held together with melted cheese and bacon. Unfortunately, or more fortunately yet unexpected, the fries fell from the fork before they could reach the scotsman’s mouth. However, the fries were actually enhanced by the fall as they plummeted into the moat of gravy and cheese curd that surrounded the tower.

The dish was as filling as anyone could expect. Excellent for soaking in the alcohol that the old friends had already imbibed, but detrimental to their arteries, tried and burdened by a life of debauchery. As they stopped to discuss their last dish, the two realized they were less than impressed.

“Remember the poutine we enjoyed on our trip to Montreal?” Alfric reminisced.

“Why of course! I do recall the chef came out and called us boorish individuals with no manners before serving us.” The spite of the angry New York chef trapped in Canada did not phase the two, however, as his poutine had set a benchmark that, unfortunately, Salt Hill could not quite reach.

The old friends ended the meal in the same fashion that they prefer to start their journey into the cold, clear, New Hampshire night. Short glasses were brought to the table and filled with a healthy pour of Talisker 10-year Scotch. Alfric took to the spirit as would a baby boy to his mother’s teat. With the glasses empty and the plates cleared, the two stumbled out of the pub and into the darkness, ready to take on whatever Hanover could throw their way.          

  • jay white

    Embarrassingly arch and naif at the same time. Knows nothing about Guinness. Hasn’t left high school. Not to mention the ungrammatical “should never be drank.” How rustic.