The two-level Ember Wood Fired Grill in downtown Dover, New Hampshire, is housed in a converted 19th-century fire station. Downstairs, the ambiance is warm and relaxed, complete with a fireplace. Upstairs the scene is more casual, with TVs, community seating, and a pool table.
Ember also happens to feature an incredible menu that Chef Chris Gouzie says is distinguished by familiar dishes with a twist. “We use new and interesting ingredients and different cooking procedures to introduce our clients to a unique way to present food,” he says. The best way to describe our menu is globally inspired.
Their most popular dish, Braised Meatballs, is one example of Ember’s emphasis on bringing the world into their menu. A blend of veal, pork, and house-ground beef, the meatballs are served in a slow-cooked red sauce with preserved lemon, fresh herbs, and aged Parmesan topped with fresh smoked mozzarella.
Featuring grilled house-ground beef, the Ember Burger is another favorite with customers. Served on a potato roll spread with shallot jam and mustard aioli, the patty is topped with a housemade pickled cucumber slice, aged sharp cheddar, thick-cut bacon, and roasted tomato. Another popular item is the Aged Angus Ribeye. A 16-ounce ribeye is wet-aged in-house for at least 90 days, then served with seasonal sides, such as smashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and roasted bone marrow butter.
Gouzie expresses particular fondness for the Pappardelle Bolognese. Housemade pasta is tossed with hot Italian sausage along with ground ribeye cooked down in a red sauce with fresh herbs over several hours. “To serve it, creme fraiche is added to give he sauce a rich, creamy flavor,” he says.
Smoke infuses many dishes, like the unusual Smoky Ricotta Gnocchi and the Smoked Wings. A head of Wood-Fired Napa Cabbage is drizzled with a maple-miso aioli and garnished with togarashi, sliced red pickled Fresno peppers, and fried shallots.
If Ember has a signature dish, though, Gouzie touts the Crispy Cured Pork Shank, which he says uses a variety of diverse cooking methods that demonstrate his approach to food. “We take something familiar like pork and beans and make it unique by adding simple but different techniques, like curing the pork, or the preserving of citrus,” he says. “We like this dish, because it shows the style of food we like to bring when weather is getting cooler.” It’s served with various sides that might include Cranberry-Pomegranate Barbecue Sauce, Citrus-Smoked Baked Beans made with homemade preserved blood oranges, and a tangy-sweet Root Vegetable Slaw. “We do try to keep most of the center of the plate items the same, but we do change the preparation to complement the season,” Gouzie says.
Cocktails are another big part of the program at Ember. Their top-seller is the Black Manhattan, made with Bulleit Rye, Averno Amaro, and black walnut bitters. Also popular are Bees Knees and Garden Party with Barr Hill Gin, Lillet infused chamomile, lavender, honey simple syrup, and fresh lemon juice.
Whiskey is big at Ember, with a selection of more than 178 varieties. Gouzie notes they also offer a wide selection of wines that complement their food very well. “Whether the food is rich, light, spicy or sweet, we have multiple wines to properly pair with our food,” he says.
If he and the staff have one hope for guests, both regulars and new, Gouzie says is that they leave happy. “Maybe they learn about a new spice or style of food and drink they never had,” he says. “We just want them to have fun in a relaxed, comfortable environment.”
Ember Wood Fired Grill
1 Orchard Street