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The best restaurants in Manchester: Mint Bistro

For anyone who has ever contemplated the compatibility of sushi and burgers, look no further than this posh, pulsating fusion establishment in downtown Manchester, where the staff is bubbly, the fare is decent and the menu seems to never end.

Since its renovation in 2011, Mint has become a bastion of variety, offering everything from California rolls to crab cakes to Caesar salad, fish tacos and Poutine – the caloric Canadian staple involving french fries, cheese and ladles of gravy.

With so many menu items on hand, the uninitiated diner may at first feel lost in a sea of options. Don’t panic. Start small: pick an appetizer that sounds worthwhile, and go from there. For a trio of young reporters on a recent weekend evening, that meant “The Boss,” a signature sushi roll composed of tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, avocado and three kinds of caviar. The dish, which came balanced with a bit of crunch and just a touch of sweetness, proved worthy of its title, for even a relative sushi virgin seemed sold after one bite.

From there, the table diverged, each diner setting sail on his or her own international voyage. One headed south and east, to Latin America, for a trio of warm tacos filled with battered cod and topped – unconventionally – with spicy Sriracha sauce. The combo was good, not great, and the use of flour tortillas made the dish feel a little too heavy. But there was little time to dwell, for he was soon off to Italy, to plow through a pleasant enough goat-cheese variation of the traditional Caprese salad, before ending his global binge with butternut squash ravioli and grilled asparagus, both swimming joyously in cream. He went to bed that night satisfied and substantially inflated.

The remaining two opted for slightly more modest – perhaps wiser – journeys, one veering toward the Mediterranean for a salad of charred vegetables, chickpeas and couscous on a bed of field greens, the other arriving stateside for a burger topped with a mountain of caramelized onions and blue cheese.

There is more to Mint than just the food, of course. Diners will discover an extensive cocktail menu, including a sake martini and a design-your-own mojito option, which is fun/dangerous for any
mojito fiend.

On the downside, the atmosphere at Mint is a bit outdated. With its neon glow, thumping music and geometric decor, the restaurant reeks of an urban modernity more appropriate for the late 1990s than now.

But alas, what it lacks in vibe it more than makes up for with service. The wait staff was courteous and accommodating. One waitress even told her party, upon handing them their check, to stay and take as long as they wanted –
a refreshing gesture in world so often fixated on speed and turnover.

Mint Bistro (1105 Elm Street in Manchester, mintbistronh.com) is open seven days a week for dinner; Sunday through Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to Last Call (Sushi until midnight).

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