I would like to share a recent restaurant experience we had over the weekend, not just for the great food and wine we enjoyed, but for the way we were treated by owners and staff that cared.
On Friday night, a small group of us visited Stella Blu in Nashua, New Hampshire for some tapas and wine. We had a reservation for 8:15, but after arriving, an apologetic hostess informed us that our table was given to another party by mistake. We understand reservations get mixed up all the time, so we told the hostess not to worry about it, and we’d hang out for the next table that’s available.
The bar and dining area was full and buzzing, so we had to linger around the entrance of the restaurant until there was an opening. During this time, a manager came by to apologize about the seating mishap and mentioned they were trying to clear some bar space for us while we waited for a table, and offered us a few drinks on the house.
A small amount of time passed, then we were brought over to a corner of the bar where two open chairs were ready. This worked out because we had a party of four, so two had a seat, and two stood without blocking traffic. We were hanging out at the bar for a while, and the restaurant generously comped a bottle of wine, two mixed drinks, and two tapas dishes. In addition, one of the owners came by to say hello, checked in on the wine and tapas, and apologized for the wait. This was our first visit to Stella Blu, and even with a packed house, we were getting a lot of attention from the hostess, bartender, manager, and now an owner.
After wrapping up at the bar, we were seated at a table and began to browse a fantastic menu of ”American Tapas” while sipping glasses of wine. Stella Blu owners, Jim and Greg, state they care about tapas, Italian food, and great neighborhoods like Little Italy, Asia Town, Main Street USA, and the Latin Quarter. The menu is broken out by these neighborhood categories, and each dish is meticulously prepared from scratch without the use of pre-cooked, or previously frozen ingredients. Instead of only offering familiar Spanish tapas, they incorporate it into the Latin Quarter section of their menu. Both owners explain they like to leave themselves open to bring in any dish they want at a high quality, reasonable price, and small portions.
Ordering tapas is fun. You get to enjoy lots of little tastes throughout the night instead of committing to a single dish. You get to experiment with flavors, share food with friends, and order dishes in rounds. This style of ordering creates a fun, social dining atmosphere.
Our table ordered rounds of the following:
- Hummus & Pita Chips
- Lobster Mac ‛n’ Cheese Spring Rolls
- Shrimp Croquets
- Baked Sole
- Arancini (Golden fried risotto balls stuffed with Prosciutto & Provolone served over House marinara)
- Stella Fries (Manchego & cheddar cheeses, smoked paprika)
- Molten Chocolate Cake
- …and more
Since you order multiple dishes, you won’t be ordering a wine for each tapas item or you’d be in trouble. When browsing a tapas menu, you can use our free mobile wine apps to help make a decision on what wine may pair well with what you plan to order. In our case, two good choices for the range of flavors in the dishes listed above were Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Chardonnay did well with the Shrimp Croquets, and the Baked Sole.
Cabernet Sauvignon did well with the Arancini, Mac ‛n’ Cheese Spring Rolls, Cheddar Cheese on the Stella Fries, and the Molten Chocolate Cake.
Fun Facts About Stella Blu:
- The owners, Jim & Greg, were high-tech guys who wanted to get out and into the fine dining area. Each belonged to a dinner club for 23 years (4 couples eating at each others homes once a year).
- All wines served at Stella Blu have an industry rating of 88 or above.
- You can sample wines before choosing a bottle.
- The fun vibe invites you to “celebrating dinner”
A Sweet Ending:
Before we were finished with our food and wine, another owner visited our table to apologize about the reservation mistake, and asked if we enjoyed our evening. On top of the attentive customer service we received all night, our dessert of Molten Chocolate Cake was now on the house as well…and the cake was was unbelievably good!
The crew at Stella Blu went above and beyond to make sure we were happy customers. We had a great night, the food and wine was great, and we’ll definitely go back with more friends.Cheers,
Jim from Hello Vino