Snake oil smoothies, beans-and-leaves elixirs and Dr. Tom E’s juice tonics are a few of the things you’ll find on the menu at Restoration Cafe, a new apothecary-inspired restaurant in downtown Manchester.
After closing his Elm Street restaurant Z Food & Drink a few years ago, Chef Tom Puskarich wanted his next venture to be a greater reflection of his own culinary tastes.
“I’ve always been interested in the healthy aspects of food and making different juices, smoothies, fresh salads,” he said. “I started thinking about the old pharmacies of the 1890s and the days when everyone had their own little healthy concoctions, and I wanted to bring that idea into a modern place, like an homage to another time.”
Puskarich opened Restoration in December on the ground floor of The Flats at Hanover Commons, where it has become a community center of sorts for residents of the Elm Grove micro-living concept apartments in the building. But the cafe has remained relatively under the radar to the general public, and Puskarich is hoping to change that with a grand opening event on Saturday, April 1, which will feature samples of various menu items plus samples from some of the local businesses that the restaurant sources from.
“My way here is clean food for real people, not trendy but on trend, approachable,” Puskarich said. “I wanted to have food with a healthy slant to it but still make something that tastes good.”
The menu features “beans-and-leaves elixirs”; local coffees and teas, including nitro and cold brew coffee; cold-pressed “Dr. Tom E’s juice tonics” like the Relax juice, made with pineapple, papaya, cucumber, ginger and coconut water; and all-natural “snake oil smoothies” such as the MauxMaux, made with almond milk, baby kale, banana, peanut butter, cinnamon and agave. There are also add-ins for the smoothies, including spirulina, hemp protein, flaxseed and yogurt.
For food items, there are breakfast bowls like a PB & J bowl and a Thai bowl; egg sandwiches; soups; lunch sandwiches like the Cuban pork loin and the curried chicken salad; and greens-and-grains selections like sesame noodle lettuce wraps and a chicken and egg quinoa bowl.
Restoration seats 40 people inside with wooden high-top tables and a lounge area with a couch and chairs, and it seats another 40 seasonally on its outdoor patio.
It’s currently open weekdays for breakfast and lunch and Saturday for brunch, but after the open house, hours will be extended and Sunday brunch will also be served. The plan, Puskarich said, is to expand into dinner service with tapas and small plates by May 1, and to introduce a new beverage menu with Manchester area craft beer brands like Great North Aleworks and Able Ebenezer, and apothecary-inspired cocktails crafted with cold-pressed juices and New Hampshire-distilled liquors like Djinn and Sea Hagg.
“If you look at the ingredients for the old apothecary potions and brews and snake oils, it’s like, ‘a little of this, a little of that,’” Puskarich said. “You could make an argument that some of the people making those things were 19th-century versions of today’s bartenders.”