Comfort classics

Flannel Tavern opens in Chichester

For Carrie Williams of Contoocook, flannel is reminiscent of the comforts of her childhood home. So it seemed only fitting that she would call her new restaurant, which features a menu of scratch-made comfort items, the Flannel Tavern. The eatery opened for takeout last month on Route 28 in Chichester, in the former space of Parker’s Roast Beef & Seafood.

“Flannel was big in my family when I was growing up. I grew up in a log cabin, [and] we would get flannel for Christmas, we had flannel sheets when it was cold, things like that,” Williams said. “So flannel to me is comfort, it’s family … and the menu is just that. The menu is really based on a lot of comfort foods I grew up with.”

Williams and her partner, Steve Reddy, took over the space and began renovations in mid-January. According to Reddy, the couple’s original target date for opening was the week of St. Patrick’s Day — the same week that Gov. Chris Sununu announced restaurants in New Hampshire would only be allowed to operate via takeout, curbside and drive-thru services. Once that happened, Reddy said, the decision was made to get the kitchen ready first so the Flannel Tavern can at least open for takeout. Within the last couple of weeks, they received their liquor license and added a few tables for outdoor dining.

The tavern’s current menu features a variety of options with their own unique twists on local ingredients. The soft pretzels on its appetizer menu, for example, feature a side of mustard from the Blackwater Mustard Co. of Contoocook. Other appetizers include hand-cut french fries, nachos with added options of pulled pork or chicken, and hand-battered chicken tenders, which come either plain with ranch sauce or Buffalo style with blue cheese dressing.

The burgers and sandwiches, Williams said, have been among the top sellers since the Flannel Tavern introduced its menu to the community. There’s the house Flannel burger, which is topped with pickles, mustard and four ounces of corned beef; the Ma’am-a-Ja’am burger, which has pulled pork and slaw; and a multi-layered sandwich simply dubbed “The Samich” that has ham, turkey and salami, American, Swiss and provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, purple onion, mayonnaise and Blackwater Mustard Co.’s sweet hot mustard.

Entrees are available too, one of which — the “MacDaddy” macaroni and cheese — is made to order every time, Williams said. That comes with garlic toast and a house or Caesar salad.

There are a few specials Williams has featured on the takeout menu. Recent options include the deep-fried macaroni and cheese balls, and a Sweet Italian sausage, pepper and onion sandwich that actually began as a customer request.

The beer and wine menu has a rotating selection of domestic and local craft options. Williams said more dinner entrees and desserts are expected to be added to the menu when the tavern is able to open to full capacity. Eventually, a breakfast menu will get added to the mix too.

Williams, who worked as a caterer for more than a decade, said things have gone very well so far, despite the occasional supply hiccup. She’s had to make some adjustments to the menu when items like prime rib become unavailable — and has even had to bring in her own home freezer for extra storage when they needed more room but couldn’t purchase one — but she said the community has responded to the new eatery fondly.

“We were unsure of what it was going to be like, but people have been very understanding of the changes and everybody’s been very supportive,” she said. “Everybody’s been flocking out too. … The phone doesn’t stop ringing.”

Photo: “The Samich” (ham, turkey and salami, with American, provolone and Swiss cheese, tomato, purple onion, mayonnaise and sweet hot mustard on a ciabatta roll).Courtesy photo.

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