4/18/2013 - With a menu that features dishes like the Pig Pile, the Hangover Helper and the Wicked Good BLT — or the Not as Good BLT if your standards aren’t quite as high — The Riverhouse Cafe in Milford does dining a little differently.
“I don’t know how we do it. We’re just a big bunch of misfits,” owner John Goldberg said. “We do funky stuff.”
Goldberg opened the Riverhouse Cafe in September 2010, offering breakfast and lunch. In March, the Riverhouse expanded to offer dinner Wednesday through Friday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and the dinner numbers have grown steadily over the past month.
“We don’t advertise, so what we got was pretty good, and each week gets a little busier. That’s a good thing,” Goldberg said. “It’s kind of how we did the whole thing since we started. Now, the weekends here? Forget about it. We feed more people than a good-size ship feeds on the weekends.”
The Riverhouse focuses on funky and fresh. Goldberg’s goal is to provide customers with something they would not find at a standard diner.
“We do little things to make everything different. It’s simple food and not crazy ingredients, but we make them so they are really good and are out of the ordinary,” Goldberg said. “You find things on our menu that you don’t see anywhere else. We have the normal bacon and eggs and things like that, but all the sandwiches are pretty crazy with three or four items in each one. The dishes are all stacked.”
Even standard fare you would find on most menus is taken to the extreme at Riverhouse Cafe. The jalapeno popper becomes a monster under Goldberg’s guidance. Start with an extra large jalapeno pepper, stuff it with cheese, wrap it in bacon, cook it up and serve it with greens, corn cake and sweet pepper jelly and you’ve got the Riverhouse version.
Goldberg said that the signature breakfast item is the Pig Pile, a house sausage served between two hash browns and topped with two eggs, sausage gravy and fried onions.
Packed into these dishes are fresh local and organic ingredients.
“We get local stuff and we try to do some organic stuff like ketchup and produce. Our pork is from Wilton. We make our own sausage patties. We don’t have any canned food,” Goldberg said. “If you order a Wicked Good BLT, it’s got local tomatoes, local lettuce, our house bacon and bread without preservatives. We kind of created this space where, if you’re into local organic food, you can come here to eat, and if you just want to come in and get bacon and eggs for breakfast, you can.”
The local angle is a big draw for Brok Griffith of Wilton, a regular at the Riverhouse who says he eats there two to three times each week.
“The food is fantastic. I also like that he works with the local farms and gets his produce and meats that way whenever possible,” Griffith said. “I think at this point I’ve probably had everything on the menu and I always try the specials. Everything is great. My favorite is probably the grilled turkey TNT, and a close second would be the baja turkey. Those are both great sandwiches.”
With breakfast locked in and the dinner nights up and running, Goldberg said that the next item on his to-do list is to update the lunch menu so that it is on par with the breakfast and dinner offerings.
Goldberg has also started to make his way out of the kitchen, turning the cooking duties over to 20-year-old Tyler Hicks so that he can stay in the dining room to interact with the customers.
“I started out as a dishwasher and moved up to where John would let me work on the line for a few minutes and then he started teaching me how to cook. I have a passion for it,” Hicks said. “I actually run the kitchen now and John gets to be out on the floor and see what’s going on and make sure his customers get what they want.”
Goldberg said that keeping up with what the people want is key for the Riverhouse Cafe because folks dining out have a lot of choices in the area.
“There are five breakfast places right on this oval. It’s like New Hampshire’s breakfast capital. If you know food, you’ll know the difference,” Goldberg said. “I’m just trying to get people good food the way I would eat at home if I was cooking for myself. That’s what I want to give people.”