Monday, August 30, 2021

Social House: A Culinary Treasure in Manchester, Vermont

Where should you dine in southern Vermont? 

One recommendation I can give is the Social House Restaurant & Bar, located in Manchester. The restaurant opened in the summer of 2019, by Luis Pazos and his wife, Debbie Pazos. Debbie worked at the famed Le-Bernandin in New York City for about seven years, and met Luis there, who eventually became the floor manager at the restaurant. When they married in 2012, they soon decided to move to Vermont, as they felt it would be a great place to raise a family.

In time, they decided to open their own restaurant in Vermont, and chose the name Social House for a couple reasons, such as the abbreviation, SoHo, referenced their roots in New York City. Plus, they desired that their restaurant would be an excellent place for people to socialize. They also hired Executive Chef Jose M. Valines to run their kitchen. Obviously, the restaurant has faced many challenges, and continues to do so, because of the pandemic. However, I was impressed with my dinner and would definitely return there if I were in the area.

There is plenty of outdoor seating, and there's still time this season to enjoy their patio.

The restaurant is elegant, yet casual, and seats around 125 people. 

You could begin your evening with one of their cocktails, such as the Razzmo, made with vodka, house-made raspberry liqueur, cranberry and lime. 

I opted for the House-Made Rock & Rye, which they describe as a "Rye Old Fashioned but better." It was a well-made cocktail, nicely balanced, and with the spicy bite of Rye that I enjoy. 

They also have about 14 wines available by the glass, many costing $13-$15, except for several Reserve wines that cost $22-$31. The wines are from all across the world and have some good selections. The Migliriana Montozzi Trebbiano ($14), an orange wine, was quite delicious, and went very well with our starters. They also have a lengthier list of wines by the bottle, with a fair amount priced from $45-$65, as well as a number of higher-end, splurge worthy wines. I liked the make-up of the wine list, which avoids some of the "usual suspects" and includes some more interesting selections. 

The Menu is relatively small but with plenty of excellent options, and it changes on a regular basis. The Menu has 7 Starters, from Oysters on the Half-Shell ($3.50 each) to PEI Mussels ($17), and 3 Shares, including Mezze ($22) and a Cheese Plate ($19). There are then 3 House-Made Pastas & Risotto, like Mushroom Ravioli ($30), as well as 3 Entrees, like Fried Misty Knoll Chicken Breast ($32).  

There were four of us for dinner, so we began the meal with a few Starters and a Share. Above, is a photo of the Artisanal Breads & Ricotta Spread ($12), which included Herb Foccacia, Pan de Casa, Baguette, and Herb Ricotta. The creamy and flavorful ricotta was delicious atop the fresh bread. 

The Hamachi Crudo ($18) was made with Ají Amarillo, Leche de Tigre, & Lime, accompanied by Maldon Crispy Wontons. The thick pieces of hamachi were silky tender, enhanced by the toppings, and the crunchy wontons added a nice textural difference. 

The Charcuterie Plate ($21) came with Chicken Liver Truffle Mousse, Alto Adige Speck, Fortuna's Pistachio Salami, pickled vegetables, candied pecans, and maple mustard. The earthy and flavorful mousse was excellent, as was the speck and salami. Pickled carrots had a great crunch and pickled flavor, a nice contrast to the earthiness of the mousse. 

The Grilled Spanish Octopus ($19) is a duck fat confit octopus, with fingerling potatoes, Bromley Farm pea tendrils, and Fortuna's Chorizo Vinaigrette. This was the star dish of the starters, with a wonderfully tender and flavorful octopus, with a touch of spicy heat. Octopus, if prepared poorly, can be tough and rubbery, but this dish was well prepared, and the octopus was absolutely delicious. The tasty fingerlings had a slightly crusty exterior, with a fluffier interior. 

For my entree, I, and two other of my dining companions, opted for the Gnocchi alla Buttera ($32), house-made Gnocchi, with Wilcox Silver Spring Farm Sausage, Peas & Cream. The pillowy gnocchi were fresh and light, enhanced by the light cream sauce, fresh cheese and the nicely-spiced sausage. An excellent dish, I would like to try more of their house-made pasta dishes. 

My other dining companion ordered the nightly Special, a Filet Mignon, wrapped in Bacon, with sweet potato mash and he was very pleased with the dish as well.

Service was excellent and everyone at my table was very satisfied at the end of the dinner. This is my style of restaurant, where you want to order a bunch of dishes and share them with good friends. I like the fact that menu changes often, dependence on what is fresh and available. The dishes are well composed, nicely balanced, and delicious. 

So, when you visit southern Vermont, keep the Social House Restaurant & Bar in mind.


Luis Pazos said...

Thank you for this amazing review! The only correction is the Executive Chef part. The Executive Chef’s name is Jose M. Valines. Thank you once again, very much appreciative.

Richard Auffrey said...

Thank you very much for the correction! I hope to return there again sometime.

Luis Pazos said...

I would love to share this review on our social media outlets with the correction. Thank you Richard every word meant so much to all of us!

Richard Auffrey said...

Luis, I've made the change. Thanks again.