New England Dining Reviews >>> Review of Red Arrow Diner, Milford, NH
Red Arrow Diner Brings its Legendary Food and Desserts to Milford, NH, Location
Article and photo by Eric H.
The Red Arrow Diner in Milford, N.H., might be the much younger brother of the legendary Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, N.H., but, fortunately, it shares the same dining genes.
Many know the Manchester Red Arrow Diner as a classic small diner dating back to 1922, and having some very famous people pay a visit and order its delicious food -- including President Barrack Obama, comedian Adam Sandler, members of the rock group The Barenaked Ladies, network news woman Diane Sawyer, and Food Network rising star Guy Fieri. The Manchester Red Arrow becomes most popular amongst the public figures during the presidential debates, typically held at nearby St. Anselm's College.
Only open about a year, the Milford location doesn't have the same celebrity, or even local, notoriety. That doesn't matter, however, to the locals -- and New Hampshire vacationers -- that want excellent comfort food at a place where you feel welcome.
On this particular day, we didn't see any overwhelming appeal of fall foliage leaf peeping in urban Manchester (plus, all that annoying traffic), so we decided to visit the Red Arrow Diner in the quieter, smaller, more easily navigatable, appealing Milford (near the beautiful town of Hollis, N.H., and the pristine New Hampshire Monadnock Region). Located in the former Milford Diner at the classic New England Milford town common, the Red Arrow looked mighty inviting from the outside with its Red Arrow Diner sign featuring a funny cartoon face and mention of blue plate specials and being open 24 hours a day. Comedian Stephen Wright, if you're reading this article, take comfort in knowing that The Red Arrow Diner is not only open 24 hours, but 24 hours in a row.
Upon entering, we felt right at home. Lisa, a chipper blonde middle-aged waitress, greeted us with a big, hearty welcome while "Joe the Plumber," salt-of-the-earth types chowed down on homemade food while engaging in sincere conversations at the counter and booths. The presence of families, couples, truckers and, seemingly, all walks of life talking it up with each other and the waitresses -- and eating huge amounts of homemade food -- brought back memories of a simpler time. The Red Arrow displayed no hint of "selling out" despite all the publicity, "famous person" clientele and decision to "franchise." The Red Arrow has really weathered all the media hype just fine, hanging onto its fundamental diner principals since its Manchester inception in 1922. The Milford location definitely displayed no bad aroma of "franchise," a common downfall of restaurant expansion.
Betty Boop and other nostlagic collectibles, name plates on the counter telling us of locals that ate here, coffee brewing behind the counter, and the prominently colorful red and white decor in the diner section and adjoining small dining room, helped get us in a true diner mood. We also acknowledge that the dessert case with its cake, pies and other baked goods greatly helped build the appetite part of this overall grand diner experience.
Lisa struck up nice conversation with us, asking about the foliage on this Sunday, telling us about her personal account of being glad she moved from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, and making recommendations on the best dishes at the Red Arrow. After carefully listening to her and reading the menu over and over again -- with lots of breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert choices plus a fascinating history description -- we were ready to order.
We settled on a roast turkey dinner, chicken wrap with cooked peppers and onions, turkey rice soup, handmade potato chips, and for dessert, blueberry pie, a whoopie pie and chocolate cream pie. Everything was fantastic -- the apex of well prepared diner food -- and clearly the result of freshly-made food. All desserts equally impressed us in their homemade versions, but the roast turkey dinner, in particular, stood out most amongst our meals -- freshly carved and accompanied with a nice stuffing, gravy and green beans (yes, I actually chose green beans over mashed potatoes to counteract the health demoting effects of gravy and stuffing). Next time we look forward to trying the Dinah Fingers," the Red Arrow's version of Twinkies (without the chemicals).
The only disappointment is that the Red Arrow doesn't serve ice cream, a strange thing for a diner. That's OK, though, the desserts they had made up for it.
What a diner, creating a memorable experience in its food, service and informal atmosphere (for the record, the Red Arrow also includes J's Tavern, a separate eating and drinking establishment.! No doubt we'll return to the Red Arrow Diner, perhaps even making it a focal point of future New Hampshire day trips. Now that's saying something, given all the great scenery and things to do in the "Granite State!"
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