Restaurant Review: The Ale House in Amesbury

It was Saturday night at my boyfriend’s house we were looking for a new place to eat.  We wanted something nice and friendly with a varied menu and reasonably priced.  A quick internet search later and we decided on the Ale House in Amesbury center.  The restaurant was right on Main Street and easy to find with plenty of available parking on the street.  Although from the street the pub looked small, it opened into a large two level restaurant with a very large bar area.  The restaurant was roomy and comfortable although the overall layout seemed a bit flawed with wasted space.

The waitress was prompt and attentive and as soon as we were seated, she handed a lengthy beer menu with primarily Belgium beers ranging in cost from $4.50 to $25.00 per glass as well as 750 ml bottles for $45.00.  They also offered a variety of micro brews which were standard price.  It took several minutes to review the menu and I eventually I opted for an Allagash white and my friend a Dogfish Head 60% IPA.  The menu ranged from typically pub like items as burgers, American chop suey and fish and chips to more elegant offers such as pan seared salmon, balsamic braised short ribs and vegetable gnocchi.   The prices varied as well, ranging from a $7.00 Sweet potato quesadilla to a $21.00 friend seafood plate.  I appreciate the multitude of options but the menu seemed a little scattered including mussels as well as a giant pretzel for appetizers.

I ordered one of the house specialties, lobster sliders and my friend had a crock of French onion soup, a side house salad and the baked haddock.  The soup was on absolutely fantastic with just enough cheese to flavor and decorate but not impossible to break through.  The broth was rich and dark and on the sweet side with onions cut to fit perfectly on the spoon and small croutons throughout.  The salad was fresh with greens rather than lettuce with the dressing on the side.   The soup and salad themselves would be a perfect lunch.  The baked haddock was generous portion with a beautifully browned crumb topping.  The fish was flavorful and cooked perfectly.  It was served with perfectly cooked rice pilaf with still a little bite to it along with green beans which were just a bit oily.   The lobster sliders were four small sandwiches with really only enough lobster salad for two.  I combined the sandwiches to save myself the bother and calories of eating two extra buns.  The lobster itself was flavorful but shredded with a single lump of knuckle meat and topped with a slice of avocado which little to the salad except to make the bun slippery.  The frites served with it were plentiful and were as perfectly crispy and salty as frites should be.  If they had included one of the dipping sauces offered with the appetizer order of frites, it would have added flavor to a fairly bland meal.  The check came to $59.86 which was more than reasonable for the amount of food and beer that we had.

Throughout the meal the service was excellent and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming.  I felt like I was eating in a friend’t home. The waitress friendly and attentive but not overly so.  The one service issue, a pet peeve of mine, was that my friend’s plate was taken away while I was still eating.   Service 101: do not clear the table until everyone is done eating.

Is this a do over?  Absolutely.  I can’t wait for a cool fall day and crock of that onion soup although I’ll pass on the lobster sliders.

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