New Restaurant in Manchester, NH: Cheddar and Rye
Cheddar and Rye is a new, eating and drinking establishment in downtown Manchester that is literally two restaurants in one. Officially located at 889 Elm Street, only one half of the business – the “Cheddar” half, which serves custom grilled cheese sandwiches – is accessed via Elm. The “Rye” half connects to the “Cheddar” half somewhere in the back, but is accessed from Hanover Street.
We visited the Rye side of Cheddar and Rye on a recent Saturday evening and arrived just as they were opening at 5:00. Our group of 4 settled into one of several comfy chair and sofa groupings located throughout the large, open space. Other seating options include barn board based high-top tables and chairs, and the long bar, which filled quickly with patrons and is beautifully decorated with hundreds of whiskey bottles.
We are completely inexperienced in the ways of whiskey and bourbon, and weren’t sure how we would navigate a whiskey bar, but our friendly server immediately put us at ease by explaining the menu and the possibilities to us. She said they are still in the process of obtaining new and different whiskeys, but currently have over 250 and counting. Another interesting fact is that the owner makes many of the interesting bitters they use himself! The menu listed many whiskeys, scotches and bourbons! Fortunately, Cheddar and Rye also offers cocktails and wine, so 3 of us settled on different whiskey cocktails from the menu. The fourth member of our party is a little more educated than the rest of us, and chose to order a flight containing 3 whiskeys he was curious about.
The whiskey cocktails were so unique and delicious that we ended up ordering several rounds, and we had a great time sampling each other’s interesting drinks. One of the most interesting was “Peanut Butter Jelly Time,” which is made with peanut washed rye, fig syrup and bitters…and smells exactly like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! But by far the favorite was the “Nice Guy Rye v2.0,” which I would recommend as the perfect introduction to a whiskey newbie. A lot of people who haven’t given whiskey much of a chance are leery of it, but Nice Guy is gentle and delicious, and tells the world whiskey can be just as friendly as rum.
The whiskey flight was presented using 4 Glencairn-style whiskey glasses whimsically secured in a handmade-looking wooden stand. 3 of the glasses contained whiskey, and 1 contained ice water with an eye dropper. Our server explained that some people enjoy delicately altering the chemistry of their whiskeys with water to allow for a greater variety of experiences while enjoying them.
Eventually we got the munchies and checked out the “Bar Snacks” section of the menu, which is a scaled down version of “Cheddar’s” comprehensive daytime menu. We started with the Cheese Platter, which came with four cheeses, crackers, fig jam, hot honey and pickled onions. The cheeses were clearly the same cheeses used for their grilled cheese offerings, so a little disappointing (no smelly blues here!) but the platter was priced right. Next, all four of us selected different and creative grilled cheese options, like the “Two Face” made with fig jam, cheddar, apple, caramelized onions, and balsamic, and we got to choose from a selection of delectable breads. What delicious comfort food those grilled cheeses were! Nothing was left. Nothing.
Enjoy a Pre-Dinner Drink and Appetizer
The server told us the busiest times at Cheddar and Rye are before the typical dinner rush, then afterwards and through to close. This makes complete sense because it really is primarily a fun and unique place for fine drinks and socializing, and I highly recommend it for that. The bar snacks and grilled cheese are just great perks if you need something to tide you over before dinner or as a late night snack.
A whiskey, scotch or bourbon connoisseur would be in their happy place at Cheddar and Rye, but you don’t have to be one to have a truly great time there. Expand your horizons by discovering some new spirits, or simply enjoy your favorite cocktail or wine with your friends, date or partner in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.