Morning Comfort Food ~ Breakfast in Conway, NH
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A lull in the parade of traffic that can be tourism in Conway, New Hampshire, invites me out for my favorite meal, breakfast. My order of choice is Black Coffee, Irish Benedict with my Eggs Fried and Over Hard and my Home Fries White. While an excellent cook in my own right, I appreciate; my breakfast cooked, served up and cleared away by someone else, preferably, but not necessarily, a talkative friend. I do enjoy some spirited repartee along with my eggs and potatoes. Not one to have my nose in the day’s newspaper I will on occasion check my calendar and write out my daily ‘list’ over my breakfast meal. One does not have to be a ‘local’ to have that breakfast experience in Conway, New Hampshire.
The original purveyor, when it comes to breakfast in Conway Village, was the first Conway Cafe located in what is now the Greggston building at the southwestern corner of Pleasant Street and Main Street. The Conway Cafe name and establishment goes back fifty plus years, back to the time of there being a mill in Conway. With a bakery out back, local memories run to honey dipped donuts brought out front by the tray-full still warm. The fresh baked aroma filled the cafe and sealed the deal: the deal being 7 cents each, 60 cents a dozen and day olds for 3 cents.
Bea’s Cafe, run by Steve Chase and Jim Tyrrell, lays claim to the ‘most’ local crowd: tradesmen (and women), high schoolers, families and retirees. You will find Bea’s located in a glass storefront in the Conway Marketplace. (Immediately on ones left after the double set of lights bearing right up Route 16 North) Steve Chase named the restaurant after his grandmother Beatrice Crabtree. One can tell quickly whether Bea’s is crowded. Service is early: 5 AM on with a breakfast counter out back and open restaurant up front. The breakfast-menu price-range runs 5 to 10 bucks. Bea’s is known for a stick-to-your-ribs concoction of sautéed onions and green peppers, bacon chunks and pieces, with diced tomatoes all mixed in with home fried potatoes and topped with melted cheese. Lovingly known as Garden Fries, this dish is morning comfort food served up for a day’s work out of doors in the cold of northern New Hampshire winters. Garden Fries, imitated elsewhere, but just not the same. After 15 years, Bea’s has and will continue to have a loyal and steady following.
All in that same glass storefront building in the Conway Marketplace; what was Weeks became Ellie’s 20 years back, what was Ellie’s is now Bea’s Cafe, 15 years strong. The Cinnamon Tree originated by the Mosher family participated in the feeding of Conway village as well, local and transient alike, in a couple of different locations and a couple of similar editions.
Chinook’s Cafe, EMT/firefighter Laurel Tessier’s business, is backing away from 7 days a week breakfast and lunch offerings, while transitioning towards weekend breakfasts and a lunch and dinner menu throughout the week. Chinook’s is located in the original Kentucky Fried Chicken building. (On the left across from the fire hall, going North on Route 16 through Conway) Laurel and her spirited staff continue to provide the breakfast and lunch tradition for “the sight-seer-passing-through crowd, the eat-outside-on-the-deck crowd, the crunchy-granola crowd and the recently-to-town crowd”, my words. Her words, “an eclectic whole foods-minded crowd”. They serve up the previously mentioned mouth watering Irish Benedict and always have daily breakfast, lunch and soup specials on the board. Can you say sweet potato fries, corn bread, fresh greens…? Spirited repartee is on hand with excellent service; be prepared! Chinook’s opens at 7:30 AM; spend between $7.00 and $10.00 for breakfast and coffee. In a you-heard-it-here first, Chinook’s will very shortly transition itself into The “Two Jakes”. A ‘Jake’ being a Boston term of gritty endearment for a firefighter. Meal and food offerings will be similar with an emphasis on lunch and dinner through out the week, while opening early for the breakfast meal on the weekends.
The new comer in the Conway’s breakfast line-up, the Conway Cafe (further down Route 16 on the left before the lights in Conway), is located in Majestic Theater Block. Local transplant Joe Quirk owns both establishments. The Conway Cafe can fulfill one’s desire to have breakfast at a reasonable hour while seeing a first run movie in a quality viewing room. Breakfast will cost you between $3.50 and $7.00, while the morning movie is an additional $6.00 up until 1 PM.
Breakfast has always had its proper place in the North Country of New Hampshire; ‘first’ among the day’s meals! A tradition of good breakfast food cooked with pride and well served to all is a piece of the village of Conway, New Hampshire.
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