November 27, 2013

Soup to Nuts: At Leaven, it's all about brews and bread

Leaven Beer & Bread House just opened in Somersworth, N.H.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Emmett Soldati, left, and Aidan Watson are two of the three owners of Leaven Beer & Bread House in Somersworth, N.H. Patrick Jackman is the third of the trio that returned from far-flung points and career paths to open Leaven.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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A classic reuben served with a Narragansett beer.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

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LEAVEN

Beer and Bread House

44 Market St.

Somersworth, N.H.

leavennh.com/

(603) 692-0157

info@leavennh.com

Hours: Kitchen is open from 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. (later on weekends) Wednesday-Sunday

Bar open late

Inside, there is seating for 39 at tables and at the bar, which curves out into the room. As soon as the downtown construction is finished, a patio that seats 20 will be added at the side of the building.

A chalkboard notes what’s on tap – about 10 kinds of craft beer, from Maine’s own Allagash White to Henniker’s Working Man’s Porter – and what’s available in the bottle, a list that inclues Long Trail Ale from Vermont and Peak Organic Fresh Cut from Portland.

PRETZELS AN UNEXPECTED HIT

The kitchen is in back. Much of it is dedicated to the bakery, with plenty of room to make, proof and bake the dough. Bakers John Miley and Chris Cummings go through 150 pounds of flour a week and make 20 to 30 loaves of bread a day just for the kitchen to use for sandwiches and burgers. The fresh soft pretzels, chewy and salty, have been an unexpected hit.

Chef Nina Mauser takes care of the menu, which is small but interesting for an out-of-the-way pub. Starters include house grits with cheddar, those soft pretzels served with choice of mustards, and a bread board that includes a sampling of the pub’s breads served with different housemade spreads, including a pesto cream cheese, spicy chili aioli and clam dip.

There are soups and salads, and of course sandwiches made with the house bread. The most popular is the classic reuben – corned beef on house rye (made with organic flour from Maine Grains) served with homemade sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing. It comes with a side of pickled squash and potato chips.

There are just two entrees, a lamb burger and, of course, a savory bread pudding. It’s made with pancetta and cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, then topped with a touch of Bernaise sauce. The chunks of bread are crispy on the outside, while the inside remains moist but not soggy. The bread pudding is served with the vegetable of the day, such as creamed kale kicked up with a little hot sauce, and some apple slices.

The only dessert on the menu is also a bread pudding, made with candied pecans, raspberry glaze and vanilla bean ice cream.

The owners of Leaven have had to make a few adjustments since they’ve opened. The bread has proven more popular than they expected, to the point where they ran out of loaves to make sandwiches a few times because customers bought it all off the wall. More than once, they’ve had to double the amount of pretzels they make to keep up with demand.

Wednesday, which is board game night, appears to be their busiest day. Customers bring in their own games, the kitchen and bar run specials, and people buy a pitcher of beer and play Risk for three hours. Demographically, the crowd is mixed, but Wednesdays draw a lot of 20-somethings.

“People are getting to meet each other, and they’re not glued to the TV,” Watson said. “We get terrible cell phone reception in here, so their iPhones are right out.”

Next will come music nights and trivia nights.

“We still have a whole marketing plan to do a lot of different fun events and shake things up,” Soldati said. “We haven’t even started that, and people are still becoming regulars, which is fun to see.”

One phrase they hear a lot from customers is “Somersworth needed a place like this.”

Jake Johnson, who works as a chef at a wedding facility in South Berwick, is one of those customers. His family has deep roots on both sides of the border. One grandfather worked at General Electric in Somersworth; the other owned Johnson’s IGA across from the Berwick Town Hall, “so I have 120 years of family history in the area.”

“I’ve been here a long, long time,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen this town go through a lot of changes, and I think that this is a very positive change for this area. I think as the seacoast region – that’s Portsmouth and Dover and Durham – expand into Somersworth, this is exactly what that expanding population is going to be after.”

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at mgoad@pressherald.com

Twitter: MeredithGoad

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Additional Photos

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Leaven Beer & Bread House is located on Market Street in Somersworth, N.H.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Customers enjoy lunch at Leaven Beer & Bread House in Somersworth, N.H.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Fresh bread on display at Leaven Beer & Bread House in Somersworth, N.H.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Leaven’s bread pudding entree is served with the vegetable of the day and apple slices.

Meredith Goad/Staff Writer

  


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