Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hanover, New Hampshire, with an all American diner experience

After our night in Burlington, we set off on a much shorter driving day to Boston, with a planned lunchtime stop in Hanover, New Hampshire. It was fortunate the drive was short, because I was so traumatised by the day before I declared I didn't want to drive at all, and made Mr Bite cover both sections (!). 

Happily, not only were the drives short, but they were also scenic and largely very easy (up until the Boston bit, which was as busy as you might expect Boston to be if you arrive at 6pm on a weeknight). All through our driving we had sections of fall colour starting to turn, giving rise to bright orange, yellow or red trees set amongst the green.

Our Hanover stopover was chosen with good reason: my Mum lived there as a young child. Her history is so confusing that I wonder if anyone keeps track of my occasional references to her family origins. To summarise for the purposes of this post, she was born to an English father and American mother in Syracuse, New York; moved to then Rhodesia as a young child; returned to America around age 4 for a brief stint in Hanover, New Hampshire; went back to Africa to Nigeria; was sent to stay with an aunt and uncle in England (East Sussex) as a 9-year-old (Nigeria being lacking in schooling); moved to Jamaica with her family at age 10; and then settled in England (Durham) with her family for the latter part of high school and then university. There were various England visits scattered through the early years, but it was certainly a nomadic childhood.

My Mum's childhood street; Hanover, New Hampshire

For today, though, we are in Hanover, which is a university town built up around Dartmouth College.  My grandfather taught geography there and it is a beautiful campus in a beautiful setting.

The town itself is small, really just one main street with a scattering of shops and cafes. We visited a chocolate shop that delivered Lake Champlain chocolates (Lake Champlain being overlooked by Burlington, which we had just driven from), and felt suddenly old in comparison to the many students.

Hanover high street

For lunch, we settled on Lou's Restaurant and Bakery, nestled in the high street. A recommendation for you: if you are ever in Hanover, eat at Lou's. It was wonderful. It fulfilled every good stereotype I've ever held about American diners, and gave me a few new ones to take away.

Lou's Restaurant diner.

The menu was surprisingly diverse, and included expected as well as unexpected items. The expected: burgers, sandwiches and pies. The unexpected: veggie burgers, big salads and vegan muffins. Mr Bite ordered the veggie burger, while I ordered a salad off the specials menu that included dried fruit and nuts and would usually have included feta cheese (I asked for that part to be omitted).

Mr Bite's burger was impressive in scale and came with plenty of salad and a hefty side of fries. He also had a Coke that was kept topped up by our friendly waitress, in the system that America has of unlimited free refills.

My salad was enormous. To try and give the picture scale, the yellow bowl below was bigger than my head. It really was a big salad, and I am pleased to say I ate it all - although this feat did, admittedly, lead to extreme fullness for the following hour. The dried fruit included sultanas, raisins and apricots, while the nuts included all the good nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds) and none of the bad ones (peanuts, cashews). With a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, it was excellent.

We were too full for pie or vegan muffins, but if you had a son or daughter studying at Dartmouth, Lou's restaurant offers care packages that I am sure would lift any student's day.

Pie, anyone?

We might have had a scant 2 hours in Hanover, but I am so glad we stopped. It was one of my highlights of the trip, both for the family connections and for the picturesque town.

Dartmouth college

As a random side note, Hanover is also the American home of author Bill Bryson, whose books I love. I tried hard to spot him wandering absentmindedly (in the manner I imagine he might wander), but sadly didn't see him this time.

Have you visited much, or any, of New England (Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut)?


  1. In all the years I lived in Boston, i don't think I once went to New Hampshire! And such a shame because Lou's sounds worth the trip!

    1. Definitely a shame! But you're still closer than I now am, so I think you can rectify it one day ;)

  2. Your family, Lou's and Bill Bryson sound like a great reason to stop at hanover. Glad the driving was better. the autumn trees look lovely. But why are cashew bad - such a gorgeous nut. And I hope when you saw the students you felt both older AND wiser :-)

    1. I forgot the wiser angle ;)

      Cashews aren't bad per se, I just don't like them! Processed into cheesecake is one thing, but plain...I find them best skipped for more enjoyable (to me) nuts!

  3. Your mother certainly had an interesting and varied childhood. It's so tragic with what's happened in Zimbabwee - bring back Rhodesia, I say! Hanover looks as picturesque as a postcard and Lou's diner was a great find. I can't believe the size of those servings - so not like Australia! I'm impressed you were able to get through that massive salad xx

    1. I have impressive stomach capacity sometimes ;) I am glad my Mum's varied childhood included Hanover as it was indeed a picturesque spot to stop by. I'm yet to make any of the African destinations but will confess to not being strongly pulled towards Zimbabwee now!

  4. I have read and heard so much about American pies but those pictures really capture what all the fuss has been about. Yum!

  5. Glad you are having fun traveling and Hanover sounds like a cute town. The pictures look really nice. When I visit Berkeley I feel the same, suddenly old but hey...we are wiser too.

    1. Thanks Asha - I love visiting university towns / universities so hopefully I can get to Berkeley one day too :-)

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