The steel drum of Caribbean music hums softly from the outdoor speakers as you sip a colorful cocktail while enjoying dinner in a poolside cabana.
No, you are not on a tropical island. In fact, you haven’t even left the Granite State.
Sizzle Bistro opened at Executive Health & Sports Center in Manchester on July 12.
“We want everyone to enjoy a little bit of vacation,” said Maureen Lemire, Sizzle’s general manager, of the restaurant’s concept. The eatery, which is open to the public, is owned by Manchester restaurateur Neville Pereira and features a menu of popular dishes from his Hanover Street eateries, Ignite and Hooked.
The center used to house a small members-only cafe. Mike Benton, owner of Executive Health & Sports Center, wanted to add a restaurant to the center’s offerings that would focus on the social wellness aspect of the business, which he is developing into a community wellness facility.
“Neville has done such an outstanding job with Hooked and Ignite and met our needs because he has always offered healthy cuisine,” he said. “It was the combination of that, flavor and his ability to run a successful franchise.” Sizzle Bistro diners can purchase a single-day Executive Health & Sports Center pass for $15 (or $40 for a family of up to four members).
Diners can access Sizzle Bistro from the parking lot and from inside the sports club, where the eatery is tucked into the basement. Red lamps glow over each table inside the restaurant, which seats 100 guests, and red rope lights glow from the underbelly of the bar, which features six flatscreen TVs.
“We call it Ignite on steroids,” Lemire said.
Glass doors lead to a stone patio — and the sports center pool, complete with rows of cloth lounge chairs — which seats another 100 guests at umbrella-shaded tables. A grass hut-like tiki bar, with three flatscreen TVs, is also set up outside and lined with Polynesian-style statues. Chairs are set up around fire pits on one side of the patio, near cushy cabanas complete with pillows. At dusk, heat lamps are ignited and flames ascend up their glass tubes for all to see. Live music is featured on the patio every Thursday through Saturday.
Starters at Sizzle Bistro include the Ignited Mussels (served in a butter, garlic, white wine sauce), Fried Pickles, Maple Glazed Scallops & Bacon, Kahuna Tuna (seared ahi tuna strips on a wonton surfboard of watercress, pickled ginger and wasabi sauce), and the Sizzle Salad (mixed greens served with a sizzling platter of onions, red peppers, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated chicken breast and fantail shrimp).
The menu also boasts a variety of burgers (beef, turkey and bison) and sandwiches, including the Tuscan Dip (Black Angus beef topped with smoked provolone and Asiago cheese, served on an Italian loaf with Tuscan seasoned au jus for dipping), Philly Very Veggie (sautéed purple onion, red and green peppers, spinach, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, seasonal vegetables and mushrooms, topped with Monterrey Jack cheese and served on a baguette) and the Seacoast Sandwich (lightly breaded haddock, served with cole slaw, tartar sauce and melted cheddar on a Kaiser roll), which Lemire said has already emerged as a customer favorite.
Among the entrees are The Nest (sautéed chicken tenders, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach, finished with feta cheese and garlic butter, served over angel hair pasta), Blackened Mahi Mahi (seared mahi mahi coated in Cajun spices), Filet Mignon Tournedos (beef tenderloin wrapped in smoked bacon, served on a French crouton with bearnaise sauce) and Seafood Cioppino (shrimp, scallops, haddock, mussels and clams in a broth of tomatoes, butter, wine and Italian herbs). “We call it ‘ocean in a bowl,’” Lemire said. “There’s a little bit of everything in there.”
The tiki bar offers a special bar menu. Guests at the bar can order the Mezzaluna Plate (hummus, tabbouleh, pickled purple onions, olives and pita bread), Tutti Frutti (a plate of sliced fruit and berries), Shrimp Ceviche, Buffalo Bleu Chips (homemade potato chips topped with buffalo sauce, blue cheese dressing and pancetta), Kahuna Tuna, or a variety of raw bar options to enjoy with a Watermelon Margarita or Dragon Berry Mojito, or a less-than-200-calories cocktail such as the Skinny Minny (vodka, muddled kiwi, strawberry, lime and club soda) or the Wolf Bite (wolf berry rum, lemon-lime soda and a splash of grenadine).
All menus are available for lunch and dinner, and everything is made to order.
“If you don’t see it on the menu, ask,” Lemire said. “If we’re capable of making it, we will make it.”
Sizzle Bistro will be open year-round (give or take a few holidays), and Lemire said she hopes the restaurant will have earned itself enough of a reputation to continue to draw in customers during the colder months. “We have to start out strong and perfect and go from there,” she said, adding that the center installed a gas heating system outside so the restaurant can extend its outdoor season for as long as possible. “The summer is so short around here, and people love to be outside,” she said.