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Laughable experience at Dunaway Restaurant in Portsmouth, NH

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Let me add the Dunaway Restaurant to my list of overpriced and preciously pretentious restaurants with bloated reputations that are spoken of in hushed and reverential tones thanks to the recent experience we had with their brunch menu. It's one of those places that preen themselves on offering local produce as if your average housewife doesn't do the same thing.

First of all, we were asked about our preferences in drinks. Since it was a very hot day, I asked about their selections of fizzy water and rejected the mega-sized bottle which was their only offering. My husband and I settled for iced tea to the tune of $3.50 each for a small water glass sized portion. Yes, the iced tea was good but hardly worth the price (doubt that refills were included in the price). So, kaching, $7.00 for iced tea. I also had an interesting conversation with the server when I asked if they might have seltzer. (very low rent suggestion from yours truly) No, she replied, but they did have club soda which in her opinion was the same thing (not according to info recently read in Martha Stewart's mag). She also haughtily informed me that the reason there was sodium in seltzer was because of the carbonation (!). Well, properly chastened after receiving the benefit of this scientific insight, we proceeded to order from the limited brunch menu. We also made the declasse suggestion that we might want (gasp!) tap water which was a long time in coming, probably because we were such rubes as to actually drink (sniff) tap water.

My husband ordered the eggs (one egg, actually) Benedict and I the lobster roll. Well, you'd better have a dainty appetite if you order the Egg Benedict which arrived with a teeny-tiny charred piece of brioche. It seemed to be nothing exceptional, especially considering the price.

My selection, the lobster roll with fines herbes, came with about the worst onion rings I have ever had. The onion was hardly discernible and was covered in about 3/4 inch of heavy, greasy batter, plus the rings were just this side of being burnt. (My husband observed that possibly the reason the service was so slow was that it took so much time to char the onion rings.) I found the lobster roll to be overly salted and the fines herbes to overwhelm the taste of the lobster. It was served on an ordinary hot dog bun. Perhaps this was a retro-chic homage to the classic lobster roll; however, with all the boutique bakeries in the Portsmouth area, perhaps they could have put the filling on something more interesting. Furthermore, I ended up with an ache in my gut for the next day or two due to the sheer indigestibility of this meal. I suspect that there are any number of places up and down the Maine coast where you could get a better version of the same thing. Sometimes things are classics for a reason and they don't need some fussy tampering.

After all these culinary delights we decided to forego any of the offerings from the extremely limited and rather unappealing dessert menu.

With tip this gastronomic bliss came to nearly $50.00.

According to their website, the new chef recently departed the Arrows Restaurant where you can hardly get by with less than $100.00 per entree. Well, if this is the standard that Arrows sets, I think I can safely say we won't be rushing over there.

If nothing else, this experience has provided my husband and me a few good laughs.

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  1. The Dunaway chef has also departed for Boston, FWIW.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tatamagouche

      Are you referring to the chef who left last March, or has their second chef left, too?

    2. Sounds dreadful. Not meant as an excuse (and I don't know if it's the case here), but frequently restaurants that do Sunday brunch have an entirely different chef, and kitchen staff, for brunch.

      I ate at the Dunaway for dinner last April, and liked it quite a bit:
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39347...

      2 Replies
      1. re: srgoodman

        where did mary dumont go? we enjoyed our meals at dunaway when she was in the kitchen.