Changes at Camden’s Dogtown Market

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It’s been a tough year for the folks at Camden’s Dogtown Market in Manchester. A much-loved front of the house manager died unexpectedly this past September, and then owner and chef Andy Howell lost his sous chef when she felt that it was too hard to keep working in the place that reminded her of her friend and colleague.

Howell has decided to move ahead by making a few changes. For the last two months, he suspended dinner hours. “During that dinnerless month” he said in an email, “I had time to reconsider the mission of Camden’s, which has always been in regular flux, having been born from a failed noodle bar and reworked to meet what seemed to be the needs of the changing neighborhood — I wanted to call it Lemonade, but I didn’t have a dog named Lemonade.”

The solution? Camden’s will now offer a full-time prix fixe dinner menu. But prix fixe doesn’t mean lack of choice — there will still be options for diners within each course. And for anyone who may have sampled him at full flower when he owned Cafe Rustica, it’s an exciting change: Dishes such as veal saltimbocca with wilted spinach and fingerling potatoes, skillet-roasted shrimp, scallop and crab cakes, and lavender crème brulée will dot the menu.

“For the last month, we have been offering a constantly changing, three-course dinner menu for $20. We’ve fine-tuned the selections, gone through a couple of false starts on staff, but seem to be leveling off with a tasty and tight-knit plan,” Howell says.

Once the other market — The Butterbean Market & Cafe — opens, Howell says the market side of Camden’s will focus on wine and beer. Lunch and brunch menus will continue to be the same — “Though the special offerings are getting a bit more adventurous,” he says. The new hours are now 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Mondays-Saturdays. cdmrva.com.

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