The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Bliss Bar at Cabonnay. Courtesy photo.


Address: 55 Bridge St., Manchester 
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 5 to 10 p.m. (Hours will expand over the coming weeks) 
Call: 844-946-3473

A taste of Wine Country
Multi-level restaurant and wine bar opens in Manchester

By Angie Sykeny

 Imagine eating dinner on a rooftop patio, surrounded by vertical gardens of colorful blooms, overlooking the heart of a scenic urban downtown. That’s one of the dining experiences you can have at Cabonnay, a new restaurant and wine bar opened last week in Manchester.

The space features six dining areas, each with a unique atmosphere, plus an on-site wine emporium and integrated art gallery. The name Cabonnay represents the union of red wine and white wine — namely, cabernet and chardonnay — and is inspired, says owner Cornelis de Jong, by the idea of bringing the “essence of wine country” to the Granite State. 
“Wine country has the vineyards, the tasting rooms, the art and the gardens. They make the surrounding area for tourists very beautiful,” he said. “We wanted to a create a space with that environment. An experience. A place where you can come, have dinner and stay a while rather than being rushed out after 45 minutes.” 
Construction for the restaurant began in September of last year. De Jong and his team considered several locations before settling on the three-story, 9,000-square-foot industrial building on Bridge Street. Formerly the “ugly duckling of town,” as de Jong calls it, the dilapidated unit was an unlikely choice, but it did have one redeeming quality. 
“An outside space was essential to our concept, and this building had the view over the bridge,” he said. “It was the worst of the lot, but in the weirdest way … we’re exactly where we need to be to execute our vision.” 
The first level of the building is home to the posh Bliss Bar and bronze Fantasy Dining room, which seats parties of two to four. On the second level, there’s the Conservatory Room, an intimate, elegant dining room with floral decor, designed for parties of four to six; and the Oasis Dining room, a secluded area for private events and parties of eight or more. The Atmosphere Roof-Deck features 30 seats and vertical gardens along the wall with ornamental flowers and even some herbs and edible flowers used for the restaurant. Finally, there’s the Chef’s Table, an exclusive dining experience for up to six people in the heart of the kitchen, where diners can interact with the chefs and watch them as they work. 
De Jong said sectioning the restaurant into several small dining areas makes for a more welcoming, personalized experience. 
“It’s structured like a house, and that’s how I approach it — like welcoming someone into a home,” he said. “I want people to feel like they’re special, not like they’re table number 22 out of 150.” 
Cabonnay’s cuisine is described as American contemporary, featuring farm-to-table appetizers, bar snacks, entrees and desserts. Half-poached lobster, a local cheese plate, roasted New York strip and a Grand Marnier soufflé are a few of the things you’ll find on the menu. 
Head chef Chris Viaud says that evolution and flexibility are the driving forces behind the menu, which will undergo “weekly tweaks and seasonal changes.” 
“You have to be able to adjust and adapt based on what the farmers have available,” he said. “I can utilize different [culinary] techniques from around the world while staying true to ingredients from around here and highlighting the freshest produce possible.” 
In addition to the wines, a rotating selection of 10 to 12 bottled craft beers and craft cocktails featuring a small but carefully curated selection of craft spirits is offered. 
While Cabonnay could be classified as fine dining, de Jong said it isn’t limited to full-course meals and special occasions. 
“Whether you come for a glass of wine and an appetizer or dessert, or you come for a lavish evening with several meal items and drinks,” he said, “if you want to relax and have quality food in a quality environment, we can do that for you.”  

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