By Robyn Larson McCarthy
Route 101 across New Hampshire is a major thoroughfare, country-style. Pick it up a little outside Keene in the southwestern corner of the state and it will take you all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. And in the Mount Monadnock Region around Peterborough and Dublin, the road is leisurely enough to allow for impromptu stops at the many hiking trailheads, sugarhouses, antique stores, and purveyors of ephemera you see along the way.
When exploring this beautiful area of New England with your four-legged companions this summer and fall, consider two of our favorite dog-friendly dining spots for a relaxing lunch break--both easily accessible from Route 101.
Online reviewers describe the family-owned Countryhouse Corner as "a great find" and gush about its coffee and iced espresso drinks and pastries. Yet we'd driven by many times before realizing that the establishment, which is housed in a charming old barn on Route 101, is a full café as well as a country store and gift shop.
Sitting in the comfortable garden the first time we lunched there, the atmosphere was so relaxed I almost felt I was eating in a friend's yard. A wagon with yet-to-be-planted flowers waited nearby, and customers chatted from table to table.
When the food arrived, the home-cooked aroma of the cheesy-eggy-vegetable dish of the day and a warm savory pastry tempted us to dig in--and really got Chaucer's nose going. He did enjoy a few tidbits, and we all agreed the food definitely did not disappoint.
With its well-arranged collection of books and items for home and garden--many from local artisans and New England companies--the Countryhouse Corner is now high on our list of places to take out-of-town visitors for brunch, lunch, or an afternoon coffee. (The café uses Oregon Coffee Roasters beans--a welcome change from all the places around here, gas stations included, that brew Green Mountain Coffee).
The walls at The Bagel Mill are decorated with photographs, hundreds of them, of people the world over posing with... a plain bagel. There's a Masai warrior with a bagel at the end of his spear, and a bagel at the Great Wall of China. Name a famous tourist spot, and you can probably find a snapshot of someone holding or looking at or wearing or staring through a plain bagel there.
So you'd think someplace this fun and quirky would serve something other than the ubiquitous and completely ordinary aforementioned Green Mountain Coffee! (Dean's Beans, anyone?)
In any event, fox terriers are not that into coffee, and very into bagels--which are quite good and made daily right on the premises, of course. So, Chaucer gives this place four paws up for its pretty, flower-filled garden, its welcoming rickety benches, and its well-worn brickwork that provides four-legged guests with a cool nap spot on a warm summer day. (Oh yes, and the bin of dog bagels for sale.)
When you can get bagels at every corner donut shop in New England, how nice to have a real bagelry of our own here in the shadow of Mount Monadnock. Wi-fi access and a welcoming atmosphere mean you can settle in for an afternoon of reading and writing--or just drop by for a nosh while you MapQuest your day's driving route around Southern New Hampshire.
These dog-friendly restaurant reviews were adapted from ChaucerSeesAmerica.com.