“Hi, JP’s Grill, how can I help you?” said a gentleman on the other end of the phone line.
“Hi, I was just wondering if you guys were going to be open tonight despite the snow storm.”
“Of course!” the man boisterously said. “We will definitely be here. We will see you later.”
My experience with JP’s Grill was already going well, and I hadn’t even stepped inside the restaurant yet. With curtailed operations starting on the late Tuesday afternoon, one of my exams canceled and the prospect of trying a new restaurant on the horizon, this was turning out to be a great day.
I never went to Tacomano when it existed on Main Street next to Durham House of Pizza, but I know that a lot of people were upset when it closed last summer. High expectations were set for the new restaurant that would take its place, so when it was announced that a place called “JP’s Grill” was coming to town, many UNH students, including myself, were skeptical. Could this restaurant live up to Tacomano’s legacy on campus? Curious to find out what JP’s deal was, I set out in the early stages of Tuesday’s snowstorm with a group of friends and an empty stomach to find out.
My friends and I entered the restaurant dusted with snowflakes and chilled by the biting wind. Even during the beginning stages of a storm at 4:15 p.m. on a Tuesday, there were three or four tables already filled with people, which I took as a good sign. We chose a high-top table by the window to sit at while we looked at the menu that was posted above the front counter.
As I skimmed the food options that were listed, I began to feel a little nervous. Most of the items on the menu were meat-based; I don’t eat meat. I didn’t really want to be stuck eating just French fries, so I said a little prayer to myself as I continued to read the sandwich and burger options that they offered. Finally, I found something: the veggie sub. That was right up my alley.
I went up to the counter and placed my order of a small veggie sub and sweet potato fries, which cost me about $10. The man behind the counter proceeded to grab the sandwich bun and place it on the counter. I got to create my sandwich “Subway style”; I walked with him down the line of vegetables and condiments and told him exactly what I wanted.
“I’ll have everything but banana peppers and hots!” I said.
I watched him intently as he stuffed my “small” sandwich with so many vegetables, I thought the bread might split down the middle. I was definitely getting my money’s worth, and I was glad that the “small” size wasn’t too small, because for a small person I have an exceptional appetite. He passed me my sandwich, and I carefully made my way back to my table, attempting not to spill the vegetables that were cascading out of my sandwich. I was excited to eat.
It was not hard to finish every bite of my veggie sub. The vegetables were fresh and the bread was soft. It was delicious and filling. As a big fan of Moe’s sandwiches, it means a lot when I say that JP’s might give them a run for their money.
My sweet potato fries were also a hit. One of my friends at the table who doesn’t usually like sweet potato fries ended up eating a majority of them all by herself. They were crispy and a little salty, and they paired very well with my sub.
My friend Nate ordered poutine, a dish made up of fries, gravy and cheese. I haven’t had poutine in years and didn’t try Nate’s but it didn’t look quite as authentic as the kinds I have had before in northern Maine. The gravy looked a little sparser than what I’m used to seeing, and the cheese was unmelted and sat in chunks on top of the fries. Nate however, didn’t really seem to mind.
My other friends who ordered subs were all pleased, as well. Everyone finished everything on their plate.
“You get a lot of food for what you pay,” my friend Josh, the pickiest of us all, said. “If they didn’t give you as much food, it might be overpriced, but this is really reasonable.”
“They should toast their bread,” my friend Maeve said after finishing her chicken parmesan sandwich.
As the only piece of constructive criticism we could think of, it seems safe to say that JP’s Grill can stay a while. I’m dedicated to Moe’s but I wouldn’t mind breaking my loyalty every so often for another veggie sub.