Brazo, Portsmouth NH
I'm doing it. I'm kicking off the conversation on Brazo in Portsmouth NH. Recently opened by two female restauranteurs who started Green Monkey, Brazo is located just across the street from its popular big sister.
Much like "the Monkey", Brazo has gotten a lot of buzz and seems to have been busy most nights I've happened by. I wonder though -is this just new-restaurant-curiousity?
The interior is pretty cool, transporting you from New England to a more metropolitan and
distinctly warmer destination. The look of the place is much more appealing to me than its sister restaurant The Green Monkey, and it seems as though they must have poured significantly more finances into reworking the existing space.
The menu, working with the visual concept, is a latin hybrid.. Cuban pulled pork dishes, Rellenos, Adobo Tuna dishes.. Though there were only a few things to chose from, plenty of which looked appealing to me, but not to my date. We ended up ordering mussels to begin- which, while delicious, were a daringly smaller portion than most you'll find in this town. Still, they were perfectly, and I mean Perfectly prepared.
My entree left something to be desired. While not bad, it didn't blow my socks off by any measure. I ate it up, but would have easily done just as well cooking at home. My dates entree was considerably better: the rellenos were beautifully presented and my bite of his dish was also delightful. But again, I wondered if I could do just as well with a trip to the grocery store for fresh spices? Maybe though we just chose the wrong things to order...? My take on The Green Monkey is similar: that they do a few things really well and the rest is give or take. (For instance, the Espresso Rubbed Steak is great, as is the Pad Thai.)
Maybe the experience would have been better if the service wasn't so rough around the edges. The crew seemed to lack confidence- and maybe that will come with time. Part of the reason I think the Green Monkey has had so much success is because one of the women is a phenomonal front-woman. Social, always there, comfortable, seems to remember everyones face if not their name. We were not met with that same energy by any staff member when were were there. Our server came back asking us to remind him of our entree selection, forgot our bread after mentioning that he would be right back with it, never offered a second round of cocktails though we were finished with our first round halfway through our meal.. The runner who dropped our food was somewhat unpolished as well. HOWEVER: the pacing was perfect, despite the fact that the place was packed.
That's it. That's what I've seen. Anyone else?
I went there on Sat night. It was at the top of my wish list, so I was really looking forward to it. I have also been to the Green Monkey for the espressso filet (yum) and the grilled romaine salad, so I did have high hopes. Ironically, when we went to GM, all four of us got the filet and we normally try to get various entrees. I have a feeling we might do the same next time, too.
As you described, the room is beautiful and warm, which is especially nice in winter. The place was fairly busy, but I was able to get a seat at the bar before dinner. I thought the bar staff was friendly and helpful. We moved to one of the circular booths (party of six) for dinner.
I had a (special) empanada special as an appetizer, which was good and the Churrasco Brazo (skirt steak), which was also good. Others ordered the pork confit, seared tuna, grilled salmon and the fish stew (that I can't remember the name of). All looked good and everyone was happy. I might try the 10-spice chicken next time.
We didn't have dessert there (nor at Popovers, since it was closed when we got there). It was fairly expensive (including a couple bottles of wine and fancy cocktails), but I enjoyed it and would go back. One could always go to Brazo for a drink and GM for dinner (or vice-versa).
Also, if you haven't seen it, there was a nice review ("Brazo--It's electric!") in the Spotlight:
There's also a story that included Phelps Dieck and Deb Weeks, the owners. Deb is the friendly and attentive front person mentioned in the original note.
i worked there for about 3 months as a line cook. the waitstaff is a little rough anroung the edges but they are under a lot of stress since it is a new restaurant. The food there could be better but my favorite dishes are the salmon, the seafood stew, ny strip, and fish taco. the specials are always delicious