Whenever I’ve been asked about dining in Rome, I’ve always had the same response. In my many visits, it’s been difficult to find a disappointing restaurant. With so many good options, the bad ones never last long.
In a way, Haverhill — specifically the Railroad Square area — is suffering from the opposite problem. Yes, there seem to be restaurants everywhere, and most have been around for a while. Perhaps too long. When G’s opened earlier this year, the neighborhood was clearly in need of some fresh ideas.
The restaurant has already garnered a lot of attention from the local foodie culture, and for good reason. G’s features a single-room dining space with some outdoor seating. A cozy bar is on the right as you enter. Tile floors and brick walls help create an inviting country-casual ambiance. Indoor capacity is around 50. The place gets noisy when filled, but that means folks are having a good time.
G’s menu is very much in line with what you find at many new establishments: a relatively small selection of items done right. There are only six dinner entrees, for example, and about the same number of appetizers, though there is also an impressive gluten-free section. The days of six-sided foldout menus are fading. Maybe that’s a good thing.
“Texas Southern Flare” is seared into the restaurant’s logo, and one of the menu items that immediately caught my eye was Mexican Coke. Real Coca-Cola cognoscenti know the south-of-the-border export is superior stuff because it’s made with real sugar, unlike its American counterpart. It’s popular in the Lone Star State.
The Tex-Mex flavor at G’s is also found in the appetizers. Shrimp in a jar ($9) is reminiscent of something my mom used to pick up at the old Demoulas markets: a glass juice jar with a twist-off top filled with cocktail sauce and tiny shrimp. Thankfully, G’s version is a considerable improvement: half a dozen plump poached shrimp mixed with a zippy lime cocktail sauce and a hint of smoke … no twisting required.
BBQ sausage bites ($7) were made with pork sausages from G’s neighbors at Haverhill Beef Co. The four large sausage wedges were heavily smoked, packed with flavor and served over grits. I’ve never understood the allure of grits, but G’s version grew more addictive the more I sampled.
Along with the gluten-free options, G’s has a handful of items on the menu for health-conscious diners. The verde chicken ($13) may be one of the best bargains in the city — a grilled chicken breast from a local farm escorted by Spanish rice and refried beans. The chicken was tender and moist, and the lime verde sauce provided a smart, savory accent. The beans and rice made it filling and satisfying.
For many people, Texas fare means a lotta grillin’ and a lotta steaks, so a 14-ounce grilled Angus rib-eye ($29) should get their attention. The rib-eye had the telltale grill marks folks crave, and though done just a bit more than requested, it was still an appealing meal and easy to dig into.
The beverage menu includes some alluring concoctions, including the Blue Bonnet ($9) with Boston-based Bully Boy vodka, lemonade and blueberry-mint puree. Don’t overlook the Barton Springs ($9), with Tito’s vodka, cucumber-mint simple syrup and soda.
Desserts included pecan pie with ice cream ($10), which fit right in with the Southern theme. It’s easy to mess up pecan pie and difficult to get it just right. G’s came close. The pie was rich and sweet, and had an agreeable crust crunch. A tad pricey? Perhaps. But it was an ideal way to end the meal.
Our meal at G’s inspired us to use another “G” word: Go.
Hours: Monday-Wednesday, 4:30 to 9 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
4:30 to 9 p.m.
Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.