Celebrate your valentine at 11 Eleven Bistro
Friday, February 8, 2013
By GEORGE PELLETIER
With its fine American bistro cuisine, 11 Eleven Bistro will offer its regular menu plus a special menu to woo your loved one for Valentine’s Day.
Packing the one-two punch of top-shelf chefs Jeff Dudley, owner, and Joe Drift, Nashua’s Saffron Bistro owner, 11 Eleven has enjoyed accolades since taking over the old location of Richard’s Bistro.
“We love this location,” Drift said. “We get a lot of walk-in traffic. I’ve never experienced so much walk-in traffic before. Plus downtown Manchester just has a really great scene, from the Palace Theatre to the Verizon Arena to all these new restaurants that have opened up. I believe this is one of the best dining scenes in the state. There’s something for everybody here.”
For Valentine’s Day, Drift described the exceptional menu.
“We’ll be doing some shrimp cocktail with a cocktail sauce and a horseradish cream; blue point oysters with an Absolut Citron mignonette; a beef carpaccio with parmesan truffle aioli, capers and a cannenelli bean and roasted tomato salad; a filet mignon oscar, with crab and asparagus in a hollandaise sauce and red wine syrup; a seafood coippino, with clams, mussels, calamari, sea bass and toasted bread; herb butter-grilled lobster tails with tarragon and pea risotto; a flourless chocolate Chambord cake with an almond trio cookie and Chambord whipped cream; and a lemon shortbread tart, covered in meringue and slightly burned on top.”
11 Eleven Bistro has been a boon for the team of Dudley and Drift, whose history of working together shows in their creative, if not unfaltering menu choices.
“Jeff had worked for me at Saffron for a few years and this was an opportunity that came up here at 11 Eleven,” Drift said. “And being such good friends and chefs together, it was one of those things that if we were going to do it, we were going to do it together.”
While 11 Eleven remains open for dinner only, Drift said, lunches, “are a tough business.”
“People are looking to go out quick and eat cheap,” he said. “Honestly I did lunch in Nashua at Saffron for two years and I literally broke even. It’s just not worth it. At some point we may start doing brunch and down the road we could possibly open for lunch but from a business standpoint, just doing dinners is the way that it will work out better.”
Another key to 11 Eleven’s success has been its ability to sustain the constant changes in the culinary world.
“No doubt, they change from year to year,” Drift said. “There are so many new trends that come out and I try to keep up with the trends, but put a bigger spin on it.”
Ultimately for Drift and Dudley, it’s the personal side of the business that Drift enjoys most.
“I like what I do. And we’re very personable with the customers,” he said. “I just got married in August and sixty percent of my guest list was actual customers in my restaurant. I like the personal feel when you become friends with these people and they invite you to their house for dinner. That’s why we do what we do. We don’t come in and just cook and go home. It’s more about being social and building new relationships, and working with each city to help organizations and things like that.”
11 Eleven Bistro is at 36 Lowell St., Manchester, and is open 4-10 p.m. Call 218-3363. Reservations are recommended.