IN THE KITCHEN Bar One is a new restaurant on the edge of the Milford, N.H., oval that opened in June and is as hot as the jalapeño cheddar grits on the menu.
Chef Kimmy Lavoie worked as the bartender at Clark’s Tavern, the previous incarnation of the eatery northwest of Nashua. When Persia Ardehali bought the place earlier this year, Lavoie, a former resident of South Carolina, was able to fulfill her ambition to run the kitchen and create her own menu.
“Just on a whim, when I created the menu, I decided to include some traditional southern comfort food: Carolina-style pulled pork, chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits,” she said. “I didn’t know if people in New Hampshire would go for it, but they did.”
THE LOCALE Bar One is a happy place, hip without being pretentious with a décor that reflects the cuisine: country with an urban twist.
There are barn-board tables and wainscoting, hardwood floors and wall art that also is crafted from barn board, black booths, and old-time lighting reminiscent of the 19th century.
There is also some outdoor seating and a fabulous bar that stretches from one end of the restaurant to the other.
ON THE MENU You have to love that the moment you sit down at Bar One, a cold bottle of fresh water is plopped down alongside a bowl of house-made potato chips, which are deep gold in color and even deeper in savory flavors like cracked pepper and sea salt.
But while the water was refreshing, we couldn’t wait to order one of the bar’s seasonally inspired cocktails. A watermelon mojito ($12) was made with freshly muddled watermelon, mint, and Bacardi rum. A Flower Child ($10) was pink and magnificent with gin, elderflower, lime, muddled strawberry, mint, and soda.
We started our meal with the inspired duck confit poutine ($10). Hand-cut french fries, with garlic cheese curd, were topped with duck fat gravy and scallions. And yes it tastes as good as it sounds.
And just when we thought nothing could taste better than that, out came the chicken and waffles ($10), the best we’ve had north or south of the Mason-Dixon Line. We don’t know which was better — the white-meat chicken deep-fried and seasoned with black pepper, coriander, or the sweet potato waffles with spicy, bourbon maple glaze.
We also tried two of the flatbreads: the scampi ($14) and the magic (wild) mushroom ($11). Both were larger than we expected (no complaints here) and utterly satisfying. But the next time, we have to try the lucky duck flatbread ($14) made with pulled duck, fig jam, and arugula with a drizzle of Chinese hoisin sauce.
Shout out to Bar One, which doesn’t just offer up salads or a plate of string beans but rather crafts creative choices for vegetarians. The chipotle lime and red quinoa plate ($13) with fire-roasted veggies, a southwest veggie burger, and avocado; the hippie flatbread ($12) with basil pesto, goat cheese, and garden veggies; and the grilled fruit melt sandwich ($8) with seasonal fruit, brie, and arugula are just a few.
Pair any of these with a dish of Bar One fries ($8) with truffle oil, lemon zest, fresh Parmesan, and roasted garlic aioli and your vegetarian guest, like ours, will never want to leave.
And lucky us. The dessert of the month was peaches in cream ($6), smoky, grilled peaches, cheesecake, and vanilla bourbon whipped cream.
Bar One, 40 Nashua St., Milford, N.H. 603- 249-5327, www.facebook.com/baronenh.
Tom Long can be reached at email@example.com.