Bellies and Butts

CENTER HARBOR — Sometimes the greatest culinary revelations occur when two items that don't necessarily have anything to do with one another become combined. And that's how the newest dining establishment in Center Harbor came to be – Bellies and Butts, located at 313 Whittier Highway in Center Harbor, which combines under one roof the talents of Jess Stephens, who owns Cider Bellies Doughnuts, and Scott Ouellette, a prolific restaurateur who has been honing his barbecue recipes under the brand Rubbin' Butts BBQ.

The idea for the restaurant happened almost by accident. Ouellette was at the ice skating festival that Center Harbor throws each winter, and looked across the street at the vacant storefront, which most recently housed Center Harbor Provisions. He mused aloud that it could be a great place for him to use as a home for his growing barbecue business, which up to that point had only been available as a catering option. Someone he was standing with, who was familiar with Stephens' product, suggested that she could offer coffee and doughnuts in the morning, and he could serve barbecue for the lunch and dinner crowd. Ouellette said the name for the new business came immediately to a third member of the party.

"My mother was standing there and said, 'Hey! Bellies and Butts!' and the idea was born," he said. "I think it took us all of five minutes to think, 'this is a brilliant idea'."

That idea became a reality last week, when Bellies and Butts opened to the public. Ouellette's work is well known to Lakes Region residents, or to anyone interested in fine dining in New Hampshire. Ouellette, along with business partner Andy Juhasz, operate seven other food businesses, including O Steak and Seafood in Laconia, Canoe in Center Harbor, the Inn on Main and O Bistro in Wolfeboro, and Magic Foods Catering.

Meanwhile Cider Bellies Doughnuts, which started six years ago as a food cart at Moulton Farm in Meredith, has quickly grown. In addition to the Moulton Farm location, Stephens also sells her doughnuts out of a food truck in Hooksett. Bellies and Butts will be her third sales point, and the first one that is a brick-and-mortar building.

Stephens expects the morning business to be mostly for locals on their way to work, or vacationers heading out for a day of adventure. Her doughnuts are made fresh daily, not too sweet and with a gentle blend of spices. She serves them plain, dusted with cinnamon and sugar, or striped with a maple glaze. She also offers muffins, and coffee drinks. Coffees will be made using beans from Woodshed Roasting Company, located in Laconia. The morning beverage menu includes espresso and cappuccino drinks and nitro-charged, cold-brewed iced coffee.

"Having Cider Bellies here in the morning will be a great use of the space that we won't be using (at that time of day)," said Ouellette. He will also ask Stephens to leave him with a batch of doughnuts to sell throughout the day, and also to incorporate into dessert recipes, such as doughnut bread pudding, or doughnut sundaes.

Although he runs several other restaurants, Bellies and Butts will be different from his other ventures. It will be his first that will be casual dining, and, while there are a few tables, he expects most of his business to be call-ahead take-out. Located within view of Center Harbor's town docks, both doughnuts and barbecue will likely become favorite foods for island residents to pick up and bring back to camp.

"Everything here, the idea is to do nothing from concentrate, everything from scratch," he said. Rubs and sauces for his smoked meats will be made in-house, as well as all of the sides, and fresh salads in the summer time. The smoked sausages, made by North Country Smokehouse in Claremont, are an exception.

Ouellette's barbecue style is a mix of regional styles. He prepares his brisket in the Texas tradition, with a simple rub of salt and pepper. Pork ribs are East Coast Southern, and Ouellette prefers to cook his ribs until the meat is ready to fall off the bone – unlike so-called "competition" ribs, which still require a firm bite. 

A chef known for fine dining cuisine, Ouellette started dabbling in barbecue five years ago.

"This started out from just a love of barbecue and wanting to have barbecue for a party I was throwing for my mom and dad." Ouellette couldn't find a suitable vendor to cater the affair, so he resolved to provide the food himself. That experience captured his imagination, and he has been working on his recipes and technique since. He now has three custom-made smokers, a double-barreled cooker that will be parked at Bellies and Butts, a single-barrel that can be trailered to off-site events, and another single that will provide food for concert goers at Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion.

"I think this is going to be a really fun location," said Ouellette.

All-state restaurants

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Local Eatery chef and owner Kevin Halligan, left, talks with Ralph Rathjen of Krebs Farm in Sanbornton. At right is Justin Bristol, an employee of the restaurant. Krebs Farm is one of the many local food providers that Halligan does business with. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Yankee Magazine lauds Tavern 27, Local Eatery


LACONIA — Large metropolitan restaurant scenes have long fostered concepts outside of the norm. But when tapas restaurant Tavern 27 opened in 2010, owners Ray Simanson and Leslie Judice challenged an assumption that a novel and high-end dining business could only work in a big city. Two years later, Kevin Halligan took aim at conventional wisdom when he opened the Local Eatery, which sources most, if not all, of its ingredients from local sources, even throughout the winter. Today, both businesses have not only survived but thrived, and have started making a name for themselves outside of city lines. Yankee Magazine, in its current issue, lists both establishments in its 2017 Editor's Choice Awards for places to visit in New Hampshire.

It's an exclusive list, with only 14 mentions for the state under the "Dining" category. The owners of Tavern 27 and Local Eatery take pride in securing two of those mentions for Laconia.

"I think it's about time for people to start paying more attention to the Lakes Region," said Halligan, "I was excited about that."

"The first thing that I saw when I looked at (the list) was a feeling of accomplishment for Laconia," Simanson said. "I thought of what it could do for the community."

It would also be understandable if Simanson said that the honor made him consider how far the local restaurant community had come in recent years. In 2010, Simanson knew he was in for a challenge as soon as word started to spread that there was a new kind of restaurant in town. Many of their first patrons showed up because they had misheard the word "tapas" when used to describe their establishment.

"People were coming through the door looking for a topless restaurant," Simanson said. No, he wasn't joking. Even more surprising, he was able to convince many of that crowd to give Tavern 27 a shot, and some of them are counted among the restaurant's regular customers.

Tapas, for the uninitiated, is a form of dining that originated in Spain but has since found fertile ground around the world. Instead of each member of a party ordering a single entrée, the group orders a series of small plates, each carrying several bite-sized portions, for the whole table to share. It gives each diner the chance to sample a variety of dishes, while also enhancing the social experience as the people around the table talk about the food and what they should order next.

"It's like a cocktail party at your table," said Judice, who serves as the chef at Tavern 27. Her diners, she said, "are here to spend time with their friends. The food ramps that up."

Yankee Magazine was especially enamored of Tavern 27's dates, stuffed with goat cheese, bacon and almonds, then wrapped with chicken and served on skewers. Much of the menu features meat dishes, and their success is all the more notable considering that Judice, a pescatarian, has never tasted them. 

Beyond the food, Simanson and Judice credit their success to a system of operations that ensures that each guest receives the highest possible level of service. One unique feature of that system is the position of food runner, whose job is to bring dishes from the kitchen to the table. In most restaurants, the food runner is low on the totem pole. But during service at Tavern 27, the food runner has more authority than anyone else when it comes to quality control. If the plate doesn't look like it's up to snuff, the food runner can send it back to Judice before the diner even sees it.

"It's one more layer of protection (so) that we don't make human mistakes," said Simanson.

Tavern 27 makes a point to source its ingredients locally when possible, so it might have been understandable for Judice and Simanson to have been miffed when Halligan opened Local Eatery shortly after they started. Instead, they welcomed the Local Eatery as a colleague instead of a competitor. If someone walks into Tavern 27 but there aren't any tables, Simanson picks up the phone to see if there's a table down the street.

"I know they'll be hungry again later," he said. And, he would rather be one in a successful community of restaurants than the only one of his kind on the landscape.

"Kevin's one of the best things that ever happened to us. We need other restaurants," said Simanson.

Asked about his inclusion on the list, Halligan, who also operates a butcher shop on Main Street, said that his restaurant's success begins with a commitment to local products but also extends to every aspect of the Local Eatery's operations. For example, to best utilize available local products, he and his kitchen staff throw out their menu every two weeks and begin from scratch. That helps protect the quality of product, and keeps him and his staff from resting on their heels.

"We're constantly trying to get better at what we're doing," said Halligan. 

Other Lakes Region locations that made the list, which included categories for activities and lodging as well as dining, are: The Kalled Gallery in Wolfeboro, Mount Washington Cruises on Lake Winnipesaukee, The Ballard House Inn in Meredith, The Wolfeboro Inn and Tamworth Distilling.

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Ray Simanson and Leslie Judice, owners of Tavern 27 in Laconia, were thrilled to see that two Laconia restaurants caught the attention of the editors of Yankee Magazine. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

The light is on at The Lantern Inn

Couple realizes dream of running bed & breakfast in Lakes Region


LACONIA — The Lantern Inn, which was originally built as a summer vacation retreat by Byron and Doris Hedblom and in recent years has been operated as the Lighthouse Inn Bed and Breakfast, has new owners, Shay and David Doyon, who say they are realizing their dream of running a bed-and-breakfast inn in the Lakes Region.
The Doyons met while they were both working at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, and a few years later were married at the Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough. David is a assistant professor of accounting at SNHU and Shay has operated an upscale vintage and and second-hand store in Pembroke, Shay's Attic Treasures, where she focused on home furnishings and restored vintage pieces for home décor.
Shay Doyon's dream of owning an inn began in 2000 on a trip to England where she stayed at a charming countryside bed and breakfast where the cozy, quaint feeling of the inn and the warm greeting from the owners left a lasting impression.
"Ever since then I've wanted to run an inn where you have that kind of interesting interactions with guests and make them feel comfortable and help them have a unique and wonderful experiences," she said.
She and David stayed at Lighthouse Inn in 2012, when it was operated by Mike and Pat Recht, and fell in love with the inn, especially the cathedral ceiling in its living room, the detailed woodwork with knotty pine paneling and the unique guest rooms, each with their own gas or electric furnace and private bathroom and tiled shower.
They later purchased property in the Weirs and started making their home there four years ago. Last fall, acting on a sense that it was their time to try and realize the dream of owning an inn, they contacted the Rechts and were able to acquire the historic five-acre property on Watson Road.
Since then they have been busy refurbishing the historic inn with new furniture gathered from Shay's experience and developing themes for each of the five guest rooms. They are also constructing a covered outdoor pavilion which will add to the experience of their guests.
The Doyons are fascinated by the history of the property they now own and its links to the history of Weirs Beach. It was built by Byron Hedblom, inspired by his links to naval architecture, with a bay window which resembles the lookout from a ship's wheelhouse and there are three 15-foot-high working lighthouses on the property.
Hedblom, the founder of General Ship and Engine Works in East Boston, is the man who reassembled the Chateaguay into the Mount Washington after it was shipped by rail from Lake Chaplain to Paugus Bay in 1940 to replace the side wheel steamer which had burned at the Weirs in December of 1939. Hedblom owned the ship from 1941 until 1972 and also built two other ships which operated on the lake, the Sophie C, named for his mother, and the Doris E, named for his wife. He was called out of retirement in 1982 to oversee the lengthening of the Mount from 203 feet to 230 feet.

"There are so many interesting details he created here," said Shay, who points out that the Lantern Inn name was inspired by Dave, who observed that when a person first enters the inn they will see lanterns everywhere.
Each of the five guest rooms has its own unique personality, like the Bohemian, which has an artistic flair and was built onto the original house, using what was formerly a patio area space.
There's also a Rustic Lake room, which has twin beds and knotty pine paneling like that found in lakeside cottages, a Shabby Chic room with wedding themes, a French Country room with elegant furnishings and a Coastal room, with nautical themes.
The Lantern Inn features breakfasts such as crème brule French toast, Canadian bacon, egg dishes, blueberry citrus bread, berry parfaits and coffee and juice.
The Doyons are looking forward to greeting members of the community at a grand opening open house on Saturday, May 6 from 1-4 p.m.

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David and Shay Doyon have fulfilled a long-time dream of owning a inn in the Lakes Region and will be hosting an open house at the Lantern Inn on May 6 from 1-4 p.m. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)


The Bohemian is a colorfully decorated guest room at the Lantern Inn. (Courtesy photo)

Rustic Lake

Rustic Lake guest room at the Lantern Inn features knotty-pine paneling and the look of a lakeside cottage. (Courtesy photo)

Tickets on sale for NH Music Festival

04-12 Silver Center audience

The Silver Center at Plymouth State University will host NH Music Festival events, along with events at the Kingswood Regional Performing Arts Center in Wolfeboro. (Courtesy photo)

PLYMOUTH — The New Hampshire Music Festival celebrates their 65th season this summer with free outdoor special events, an expanded orchestra, a new concert series in Wolfeboro, a new series of ArtsWalks as part of the Music in the Mountains series, the fourth annual Make Music Plymouth, international soloists, and the return of music director Paul Polivnick. Tickets for the 2017 New Hampshire Music Festival will go on sale May 1.
This summer’s popular orchestral events continue in the Hanaway Theatre at the Silver Center for the Arts on Thursday evenings offering a range of orchestral emotions beginning with the opening night featuring the Festival’s concertmaster and international soloist Yulia Milshtein performing the Bruch Violin Concerto paired with Beethoven’s epic Symphony No. 5. The season finale features renowned 26-year-old pianist Steven Lin performing the Prokofiev Piano Concerto and the orchestra on Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. In between these two masterwork concerts, the Festival presents a series of diverse concerts including Mozart and Mahler featuring a concert version of Mozart’s short opera The Impresario which pits two competing sopranos against each other and Copland in Mexico, a multimedia exploration of Copland’s time in Mexico and featuring a full showing of the film Redes accompanied by live orchestra.
This year the Festival is also thrilled to present their 4th annual Composer Portrait concert welcoming to New Hampshire composer Huang Ruo who has been lauded by the New Yorker magazine as “one of the world’s leading young composers.” A variety of Ruo’s music will be performed including his piece Leaving Sao, where Ruo will be featured as a vocalist in traditional Chinese folk style. This concert will conclude with Haydn’s powerful Lord Nelson Mass performed by the Festival’s Symphonic Chorus, conducted by Dr. Dan Perkins and featuring four Plymouth State University alumni.
Alongside the orchestral series the New Hampshire Music Festival continues the long-standing chamber music series on Tuesday evenings in the Smith Recital Hall at the Silver Center for the Arts. This acoustical gem of a venue showcases the Festival musicians in an intimate setting performing Mozart piano sonatas to large scale compositions by contemporary composers. The full programming schedule for this series is personally curated by the musicians of the Festival and will be updated online as information becomes available. These concerts have been known to sell out the last several years so purchasing tickets early is recommended.
To celebrate Season 65, the New Hampshire Music Festival is expanding their orchestral offerings to a new region of the state by bringing performances to Wolfeboro. On the opening and closing weekends of the New Hampshire Music Festival the entire orchestra will present repeat performances of their Plymouth concerts at the Kingswood Regional Performing Arts Center. Other weeks during the summer will showcase chamber music on Saturday evenings and select outdoor events as part of the Music in the Mountains series. A Wolfeboro series subscription for all concerts will be available for purchase.
With generous support from the Lincoln Financial Foundation and with new support from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the New Hampshire Music Festival is excited to continue their third annual Music in the Mountains series presenting free informal concerts on lakesides and mountaintops. This year the series evolves to include a new set of events called ArtsWalks. On Friday mornings in select communities musicians will be performing along nature trails partnered with local artists who will be creating new work. At the head of these trails, local conservation organizations will be present to provide guided walks describing their efforts to promote and improve the ecology of their specific region. Details about ArtsWalk events will be available on the Festival’s website – - along with other Music in the Mountains series concerts that will be taking place across the state, including a chamber concert at St. Gauden’s National Historic Site, a free series of concerts at the Taylor Community in Laconia, the fourth annual Make Music Plymouth with a free family concert on July 22 and the second annual New England Choral Institute.

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Tickets at, at the New Hampshire Music Festival Office at 603-238-9007 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday, or in person at the NHMF office at 7 Main St, Plymouth, May 1-19 and at the Silver Center for the Arts for the remainder of the season at 114 Main St., Plymouth. Wolfeboro tickets can be purchased starting at 4 p.m. on concert days at the concert venue. Full season details can be found at