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Split personality works well at Irish restaurant and pub

The Peddler's Daughter bills itself as an "Irish restaurant and pub" and manages to juggle these two identities admirably, serving very good fare during the day and evening before switching over to a bar and nightclub at 9 or 10 p.m.

Located in a handsomely renovated building that was previously a bicycle shop, the restaurant is a relatively new addition to downtown Nashua's dining scene. (The original Peddler's Daughter is at 45 Wingate St. in Haverhill.) In the warmer months, limited outdoor seating is available on a boardwalk above the Nashua River.

Should you choose to eat indoors, you'll find yourself in a space that is pleasantly open and airy for a pub, with exposed brick walls, dark wood, and large windows defining the space. The spacious dining room can echo a bit forlornly during off-peak hours, but a larger crowd makes it feel much more inviting and cozy. Even when bustling, the service is friendly and attentive.

The entrees I sampled were uniformly good -- unusual, in my experience, for a combination pub/restaurant. Even more impressive was the food's presentation, often resembling offerings from the kitchens of much more upscale eateries.

The pan-roasted salmon with boxty (a traditional Irish potato pancake), garlicky carrots, and cucumber dill salad ($15) arrived as a nice firm piece of fish perched atop a crisp potato patty. The entire dish was sprinkled with dill-infused minced cucumber. An inventive take on the classic combination of salmon, potatoes, and dill, the dish melded different flavors and textures very nicely.

The half roasted chicken with lemon-infused broth ($14), sitting in a shallow lemony pool, was accompanied by an artfully arranged salad of sweet potato, corn, and roasted cauliflower. The citrus-scented chicken was falling-off-the-bone tender, and the side salad was flavorful.

This being a pub, I had to sample the ale-battered fish and chips ($14). They arrived in the traditional style, wrapped in a newspaper -- charmingly enough, a Nashua Telegraph from earlier in the week. The fish was moist and good, although frankly the star of the ensemble was the accompanying jar of homemade ketchup, which was the zingiest, tastiest condiment I've had in a long time.

A menu of sandwiches is available throughout the day. The grilled chicken sandwich ($8) included smoked bacon, brie, greens, tomato, and herb mayonnaise. The chicken breast was generous and tender, the added flavors melded surprisingly well, and -- unusual for such a hearty sandwich -- it was well constructed and didn't disintegrate with each bite. The accompanying sweet potato fries (known as "sweets") were among the best I've tasted, neither dry nor laden with oil, and had the added advantage of the aforementioned ketchup.

The appetizers at the Peddler's Daughter were good, but more in keeping with its pub persona. The crispy jalapeno cheddar tater tots were a nice reinvention of the childhood staple, paired with a cup of creamy dipping sauce that helped mitigate the bite of jalapeno. However, I thought $7 was steep for a mug of tater tots, even when dressed up with cheddar and jalapeno. The Irish sausage in puff pastry ($7) was also good finger food with a mustard sauce for dipping, but again I found the portion small for the price.

The one dessert I tried was berries and biscuits with whipped cream ($6), a seasonal offering that was delicious. You simply can't go wrong with anything involving fresh whipped cream and fresh strawberries and blackberries.

My sole caveat, should you choose to visit the Peddler's Daughter for a late dinner, is to be aware that at around 9:30 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, the live music kicks in. Following this jarring transition from restaurant to rollicking pub, you're unlikely to hear anything more from your dining companions for the remainder of your meal.

Source: Boston Globe

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