Good News from A Great City Haverhill, MA
Celebrations go hand and fork with great food. And what better way to celebrate a Haverhill event than by creating a menu using all the top award winning eateries in our city.
Haverhill has been very good to The Heartbeat of Haverhill and we really believe in supporting local establishments. When we planned our daughter’s graduation party, we wanted family coming from far away towns in Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Rhode Island to talk about the lovely and super accomplished graduate but also their awesome time for years to come, and maybe be a little envious of what we have right here in our backyard. We devised a graduation party that celebrated the city as well as the graduate, that could be teen-centric and young child friendly, while still appealing to adults. We had our party in a real castle (Winnekenni Castle) with food from the most award winning restaurants in Haverhill (Chicken Connection, Benedetti’s, Carter’s and Heav’nly Donuts). In the end, the day was full of big smiles and bigger bellies and enormous amounts of love and pride.
Are there other foods you think we should have added to the menu?
Winnekenni Castle Castle Rd, Haverhill, MA 01830 978-521-1686
It’s real, it’s a castle, it’s in Haverhill, so of course we started with our venue – the iconic Winnekenni Castle. The bookers at the time only responded to inquiries once a week so we had to get used to that and not stress out by planning ahead. However, once connected they were very responsive and helpful. When The Heartbeat of Haverhill mentioned various groups of prom-goers were looking to take their photos at the Castle, they rushed some plantings with help from volunteers to make it look its best despite the long cold, snow overwhelmed winter we’d experienced. And when we showed up early on party day hoping to unload cars and wait to get in, the caretakers (who have since changed) invited us to come on in and get started with decorations. They supplied tables and chairs and worked with us to create a flow for the day. We were all very grateful for the beautiful day that meant little and older kids could burn off some steam and run around outside and take advantage of the amazing grounds.
Next we researched the most award winning foods from Haverhill. There were a few standout establishments that win awards over and over, and they provided our menu.
Benedetti’s (also known locally as Bobos) 350 Washington Street, Haverhill, MA 01832 978-372-2097.
SERVED: 3 FLAVORS OF ROCKETS: MARC ANTONY (Italian), CHICKEN PARM, ROAST BEEF
Selecting Benedetti’s for a portion of our menu was such an easy choice. They’d received national acclaim when they won the title “Best Sub in America” from the Steve Harvey Show on NBC for their version of an Italian sub called the ‘Marc Antony’. For the record, Benedetti’s calls its full arm-length subs that could feed a number of people ‘rockets’. They also received acclaim from New England based Phantom Gourmet television show and the Haverhill Gazette.
Benedetti’s has some of the most seriously loyal fans – one man drives down from Vermont every couple of weeks to get his Bobo’s fix. It’s easy to see why. Huge, huge sandwiches at a good price using quality ingredients.
For our event, they were super easy to work with. Our order included delivery for the 3 types of rockets we wanted: the zesty Marc Antony (a bowl of hots on the side for the more adventuresome), Chicken Parm and Roast Beef. We had them cut a special way and placed on platters, and we loved seeing our guests try multiple flavors and speak on the merits of each. Our guests were happy and so were we with the choice of Benedetti’s as a central part of our menu.
The Chicken Connection 242 Broadway, Rte. 97 Haverhill, MA 01832 (978) 373-4300, and 37 Plaistow Road, Unit 11, Plaistow NH 03865, 603-382-5150
SERVED: CHICKEN FINGERS & MACARONI AND CHEESE
New England Cable News (NECN) awarded The Chicken Connection (TCC) the title “Best Fried Chicken”, that includes their never greasy, white meat chicken fingers, too. They’ve been recognized as “A Hidden Jewel” by the tv show ‘Phantom Gourmet’, and taken first place in the Haverhill Gazette 12x for Best Chicken and Ribs. They’ve received awards for catering and chicken pot pies, too. To accompany the Chicken (or ribs), they offer 14 different side dishes, including real mashed potatoes and a fresh salad bar. The meals aren’t overly salted, because they rely on the fresh, high quality foods to provide the flavor. There is one standout side dish that is possibly the most popular among kids everywhere….macaroni and cheese. Oh my goodness, if you want to be a hero at a potluck, just bring a tray of this creamy take on an old fashioned treat.
Full disclosure, THOH went to a fairly formal event, the type with many dignitaries on hand, and while admiring the food display was was so surprised the caterer was The Chicken Connection. Shrimp cocktail, elegant bruschetta, cheese and fruit arrays, so many things we wouldn’t have associate with the restaurant. We took a business card from Lisa Polasek who was working the event. It turns out she is the only person trusted to own and run The Chicken Connection outside of Haverhill. So this vendor was actually from TCC’s Plaistow location, because she and her husband share the same commitment to quality and consistency. We also hired a server from TCC, and who showed up – the owner, Lisa. She is a dynamo. Super professional, great ideas, hands on, goes above and beyond…. we can’t say enough about the way she helped pull together our tablescape and even helped with cleaning up.
Carter’s Ice Cream 534 Salem St, Haverhill, MA (978) 469-8343
SERVED: ICE CREAM SMORGASBORD/BUFFET
The Heartbeat of Haverhill believes Carter’s is the only ice cream shop in Haverhill that makes its own ice cream, and it is super rich, creamy, and awesome. (Personal favorite – good ginger ice cream that is very hard to come by.) At the time we hired them, they’d been named “Greater Haverhill’s Best Ice Cream Stand ” 16X. Tough to deny that winning streak! The stand has been in business since 1927 and is currently owned and operated flawlessly by the Dinan Family with the help of lots of local kids.
At the graduation party, even adults situated themselves near the self-serve ice cream sundae buffet for faster and more frequent service. We had Carter’s hot fudge and butterscotch (warmed sauces) that not so coincidentally matched the HHS colors of brown and gold, sprinkles/jimmys (chocolate and rainbow), chopped nuts, whipped cream, cherries, and by the sheer sweetness of the proprietors, their homemade marshmallow sauce which is my family’s favorite but not typically available for purchase in bulk. Carter’s delivered the ice cream in enormous cold packs by predicting with our help when dessert would be served, removing the ice cream from the deep freeze at a calculated time so it would be ready for serving on our warm party day. We were told any number of times by various party planners, not to do the ice cream buffet because there wasn’t a freezer large enough for the tubs of ice cream, the castle isn’t air conditioned and they feared the warm weather would turn it to mush, but we put our trust in the expertise of Carter’s (thanks Jeremy) and it was perfect.
This was one of the best deals of the day. Despite the voracious attacks being made on the ice cream, we still had enough left over after the event to feed the kids in our neighborhood. In fact it was so affordable that our condo complex is considering hosting a neighborhood ice cream social every year so neighbors can meet each other. It’s no wonder closing day for this seasonal restaurant is regularly referred to as the saddest day in Haverhill.
Heav’nly Donuts Bradford 55 Main St., Bradford section of Haverhill, MA 01835, 978-521-4693
SERVED: COFFEE AND DONUTS
Pat and Vasso Saragas own, and daughter, Effie, manages Heav’nly Donuts’ super busy shop in Bradford where the donuts are so big and fresh, they make other donuts look more like donut holes! Their support of the community has been recognized by City Hall. And their coffee has been the best thing to start off a day since 1990. The have rightfully earned their title of “Best Donut Shop” AND “Best Cup of Coffee” in Haverhill, a city that has many, many options.
We picked up our own Boxes of Joe (plus donuts for everyone helping out with set up), and our purchase was an effective bribe for the workers and a meal complement for the guests. What THOH loves about Heav’nly Donuts is that they are so kind and accommodating. I walked into the shop one day with a suggestion for a new donut flavor – lemon and creme filled in one donut. I’d no sooner made the suggestion when out it came. It was so big and rich I actually shared some with my husband. I must really love him!
When you consider all the food and history and open spaces and arts and awesome businesses in Haverhill, maybe we should have a new slogan, “Haverhill, A City So Exceptional You’ll Want to Share It”. I know we did.