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The Loaf and Ladle
People often think of New Hampshire as a conservative, button-down state. And while this is true to an extent, there is a section of the state that is a bit more quirky and eclectic; the area of Southeastern New Hampshire that borders the coastline has a number of rather offbeat cities and towns, including Portsmouth, Dover, and Exeter. And in the latter, there is a restaurant called the Loaf and Ladle that would not be out of place in some of the more funky neighborhoods of Boston.
The Loaf and Ladle is a tidy little restaurant on the banks of the Exeter River in the center of town. It is more of a cafeteria or takeout joint than a true restaurant, as there is no table service. You order at the counter, wait for your meal to be made, then head into the dining room to grab one of many tables inside the place (or snag one of the few outdoor tables overlooking the river).
The food at the Loaf and Ladle is mostly lighter fare, including soups, salads, sandwiches, breads, and desserts. Though it is lighter fare, you can fill up pretty easily at the Loaf and Ladle, as everything is outstanding here; soups such as the potato pesto and cheddar potato are possibly the best items on the menu, but the sandwiches, including roast beef, hummus, and many others, are fresh, healthy, and tasty. Try to leave room for dessert, too; the cookies at the Loaf and Ladle are excellent, and they have various baked goods that you can eat here or take with you. The menu at the Loaf and Ladle does change daily, so don't expect your favorite item to be on the menu at all times. Of course, that is half the fun, since you never really know what you will be ordering from day to day.
There are woefully few great soup and sandwich places in the immediate Boston area. But outside of the city, there are indeed some special places to go, including Leo's Pizzeria and Deli in Bristol, RI, and the Vanilla Bean Cafe in Pomfret, CT. And now add one more: The Loaf and Ladle is well worth the drive from Boston if you like healthy foods in a funky environment.
Review from Boston's Hidden Restaurants