By Rachel Forrest

Hampton Union, December 20, 2012

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Back in the day, meaning back when I first moved to the Seacoast and the town of Exeter 11 years ago, I used to frequent a restaurant called the Town Lyne Grille. Townies went there. Families dined there. The folks who had and have lived in Exeter for decades sat at the bar and told their stories.

It’s where I met Friend Vicky. It’s where I got my first sense of home after moving to a place where I knew no one. The Town Lyne is gone, and the regulars are spread far and wide. I see them at the Tavern at the River’s Edge or Epoch and now, I’ve discovered another place they go — Fores Restaurant. Dining Out: Fores Restaurant, with Alice and Smokey’s 19th Hole Lounge, 822 Lafayette Road, Hampton, 601-6587,

Fores is one of those homey American restaurants where there is not a hipster at the bar in sight — not even ironically. That’s comforting. In a world of high concept cuisine there’s a place where people can go to just have that good New England meal and have some drinks with the neighbors. The former bartender for the Town Lyne, Kathy was at Fores covering all the table in the small dining room with its warm wood and fireplace and the lounge where “Home Alone” played on the flat screen and golf memorabilia decorated the walls.

We started with a brew and a cosmo (just like I used to have at the Town Lyne.) The bar was full as were all the tables in the lounge and Kathy handled them all expertly. Appetizers are familiar. We had four hot wings (50 cents each), that were nice and crispy as well as four large seafood-stuffing filled mushrooms that were very good ($10). Salad came with our meal and they have a rich vinaigrette on the table. It’s the usual iceberg lettuce based salad but the lettuce and veggies were nice and crisp. Four rolls were fluffy and hot.

The entree menu has baked haddock, sea scallops and steak — the familiar New England fare — as well as some Italian dishes like shrimp scampi or chicken Alice with lemon, broccoli and a white wine garlic sauce with penne. I opted for a special, layers of eggplant and veal with a very good marinara sauce and a pile of angel hair pasta ($16). I liked the veal, thin slices of tender meat interspersed with the thicker — too thick — slices of fresh eggplant. The eggplant overwhelmed the veal and the slices were cut too thickly so the skin was tough to get through. Just a small adjustment would make this hearty dish shine.

My friend had the surf and turf, steak tips with lobster pie. They really tout their lobster pie and have it in a full size as well. Here, thick chunks of lobster, are very fresh and well balanced in flavor within a light wine sauce. All was topped with Ritz cracker crumbles, which didn’t get at all soggy ($24). The steak tips are terrific, with a savory hint of teriyaki and perfectly cooked. They’re very flavorful and all grilled to order. They made me want to try the sirloin.

For dessert, we had a surprisingly light tiramisu while I finished my second Cosmo and recalled my heartwarming days at the Town Lyne, back again at this welcoming, warm spot with good old fashioned American fare.