Dispatch from New Hampshire: Firefly

I was back up in New Hampshire a few weeks ago for a work conference that I already explained a bit in my diatribe You Say You Want a Revolution? Amid my struggles to stay on my EatRightFitness plan while away for the better part of a week was a bright spot: a meal with a few of my department-mates at Firefly in Manchester. Locals call Manchester Manch-Vegas, which I’m assuming is tongue-in-cheek, as it mirrored Johnson City more than Sin City, to my practiced eye.
But Firefly is pretty cool: a modern American bistro, a diamond in the rough. If you find yourself visiting Manchester for business this summer, or pleasure – it’s pretty close to Boston – it’s a safe bet for a fine meal.

We started with two appetizers, the seared ahi tuna and baked brie. The just-barely-seared tuna was gorgeous; sliced a little thicker than I’m accustomed to or expected, and served with a nice, crunchy seaweed salad. The combo was terrifically zingy and clean-tasting, exactly my favorite flavors of late.

The most in-focus photo I took all night. Did somebody slip me a mickey?
The brie was a bit lackluster for me, if only because the triple-crème cheese itself was so very mild. I think, in all my endeavors to expand my own culinary boundaries, I’ve begun to embrace the funk of cheese with more personality. This was presented beautifully, however, with roasted shallots and apples in addition to crackers to hold all the raspberry-sauce-topped, ooey, gooey cheesy goodness.

As ever, my photography skills are impressive, I know.
 I chose the lamb shank entrée, and was so glad I did, even though I knew the risotto that came with it would be a hard temptation to resist. It was fabulous, redolent with dark, earthy flavors. The red wine-based gravy and root vegetables complimented the bone-in, tender, luscious lamb with its slightly crispy exterior. The broccoli – a lifesaver for me – was cooked perfectly, crisp/tender. The two to three small bites of risotto blew me away. So often, too often, restaurant risottos lack punch and come across gluey and bland. This exception to that rule was very cheesy and full-flavored, and while it had a tight consistency, it wasn’t overly starchy or heavy. A thoroughly successful dish.

Proud to say I managed to eat all of the broccoli and just a small bit of the cheesy risotto

Fortunately, my colleagues were willing to share bites. My boss K ordered something I probably should have gone for: eggplant napoleon with balsamic and spinach. Again, this was a stunner. The eggplant discs were breaded lightly and satisfyingly sweet, and the savory roasted tomatoes, steamed spinach, funky asiago and balsamic drizzle made this vegetarian delight an umami-packed feast.

Check out that badass parmesan frico up on top. Who doesn’t like a fried disc of cheese?

J went with the grilled chicken farfalle pasta dish, which I dismissed right away from the menu because A), Dr. Gomez says No Carbs at Dinner! And B) pesto cream sauce on restaurant menus almost always equals gloppy, gross, dried-herb overload. How wrong I was. I mean, yes, this dish had plenty of carbs, but the sauce? It was made with real pesto! Land sakes alive, Bell Ruth, I think there’s some dag gum fresh basil in that there sauce! There’s also pancetta and artichokes in that there sauce, so yeah, it was pretty tasty.

I’m Big Hungry Shelby. I eat food, and take really horrible photographs of it. Please help me.
Colleague A, who is lovely and always orders seafood, did not disappoint; she chose the pan seared scallops for her entrée. This dish was as lovely as its master, lush with thick-cut quality bacon and just wilted spinach and studded with large, perfectly-cooked scallops. The roasted garlic cream sauce was subtly garlicky and velvety, but not too rich. The steamed jasmine rice served alongside was, in my opinion, utterly superfluous.

Our table graded Firefly a solid, delicious eight on the BHS scale. This place is trendy enough to guarantee a posh ambiance without being so full of hipsters you want to stab yourself in the eye with your fork, and someone who cares about and knows food is working back in the kitchen. I suspect its somewhat modern take on bistro cuisine is somewhat refreshing and unique to the Manch-Vegas scene, which seems as dominated by mom and pop Italian shops and fast casual chains as many of our Upstate NY towns. When and if I’m back at Firefly, I’m eager to try the crispy half duckling and the poor man’s pie, because you know I can’t resist pot pie for long.

Next week, I’ve got more from the woodland state of New Hampshire, in the form of the second installment of The Blather. I promise, this guy’s quite the character, and you’re going to love it, so please check back. Meantime, I should probably keep you up to date with my diet progress? I’ve reached my first goal of losing 10 lbs! Now the hard work of toning begins in earnest, as I turn my legs to jelly three times a week with Dr. Gomez’s carefully constructed plan of torture. Stay tuned. My hunger is big, my personality is bigger!

Firefly American Bistro & Bar on Urbanspoon


  1. Now I definitely need to try this! Thanks for the review - adding Firefly to my list.

  2. Aw, Sarah, I forget you live up near those parts as well! My NY readers, for the most part, won't get much from this post, save my colleagues who go to Nashua on a regular basis - but I forgot you might! Next time we hit Manch-Vegas, we're trying Cotton. Have you heard of it?

    1. I haven't eaten there, but I hear great things about it. Especially the martinis, which of course draws me in. I want to try it in the summer when it's not inundated by UNH students.

  3. hahha @ did someone slip me a mickey. I love that term.

    The parmesan crisp looks excellent.