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Cozy Atmosphere, Delicious Food at Daniel's Restaurant in Henniker NH
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Photo of Daniel's Restaurant and Pub in Henniker NH

Daniel's, Henniker (Aug 2011 photo by Eric H.)
Article by Eric H.

Have you ever been to a restaurant that feels just right? A dining spot where location, the food, the atmosphere, friendliness and service all come together to form the "supergroup" version of a restaurant?

Daniel's Restaurant and Pub in Henniker, N.H., is just that place. After driving back and forth twice from south Boston, Mass., to Henniker, N.H. (two hour drive each way), as a result of two commitments virtually overlapping on the same day (it's a long story...), we were mighty hungry as the 7 p.m. hour came upon us. Coming across Daniel's Restaurant and Pub in downtown Henniker, we both had that "This is going to be great" feeling even before entering the restaurant. Maybe it was the lights from the Pats Peak ski area shining on the quaint, quiet downtown looking like the prototype of a classic New England town. It could have been the warm ambient lights coming out of the restaurant juxtaposed with the scenic Contoocook River. Perhaps it was the crowds of people strolling into Daniel's that tipped us that this could be a very good restaurant.

Entering the downstairs section of the restaurant brought us into a large rustic, cozy, quiet dining room with lots of wood, as well as finding a hostess, manager and staff that personally all welcomed us. With toasty warm heat coming through the vents, candlelight dining at our river view seats, we felt safe from the chilly New Hampshire weather, far away from the fast pace of suburban life, and immediately in touch with the relaxed pulse of this charming restaurant and so many pleasant folks from the community. Fortunately, some of those pleasant folks happened to work at Daniel's and greeted and waited on us with a friendliness and efficiency that, frankly, we are not used to when dining out. If this type of service was the norm rather than the exception when dining out, what a wonderful dining out world this would be!

At this point, I was thinking that even if the food was just OK, the dining experience here would been been just fine. Sometimes, atmosphere and great service trump what you actually eat when dining out. Daniel's certainly exceeded just another nice dining place, however, with some wonderful homemade bread, fabulous New England clam chowder, a mouthwatering crock of French Onion soup with Swiss and provolone chesses, a Caesar salad topped with an outstanding dressing, a perfectly formed chicken pot pie special, and a Reuben that would have made New York City proud.

As you can tell, we were in the comfort food mode but next time we are Daniel's, we'll be more ambitious with perhaps some filet mignon, baked seafood gratinee, statler chicken, or salmon basil aioli. We will probably go back during the summer for lunch or dinner to experience dining on the outdoor deck overlooking the river.

There are few restaurants in New England where I have felt such a strong connection, but that's no surprise when, again, the food, the atmosphere, friendliness and service all come together. Daniel's is definitely a "Best of New Hampshire" restaurant from our perspective!

Daniel's is located at 30 Main St., Henniker NH. Tel. (603) 428-7621
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Visiting Henniker
Dining at Intervale Farm Pancake House, Henniker
Contoocook reflects small town America

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