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The Library, Portsmouth

Does anyone else think this restuarant is terrible and has absolutely no class? I dined there this past weekend and to me if I am going to pay 30.00 for a steak it better be served up with some atmosphere and decent service. I get they are Morton's and Ruth Chris wannabe's and they are so fortunate to have a beautiful building and decent location it makes me sad that I had such a terrible experience. Starting with the fact that when I asked for the lights to be dimmed because it was like a denny's in there the server informed me that the owner likes it that way. Correct answer-I will check into it. Just look around- people were shutting their lights off at their tables. She also came to the table far too many times, cleared before we were done and was just plain annoying not to mention she had the personality of a dish towel. My steak was cooked perfectly I must say, but the broccoli was overdone, the potatoes dry, the dessert tray they showed was from 1924, the coffee was weak and horrible, the crab on the appetizer was broken up and limp and there was no music. This is my third time with simular experiences the first two times as I always give people a chance so no more chances for this one. I can just hope maybe in the future people will have higher expectations and avoid this restaurant so it gets sold to some people with some class.

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  1. I agree with most everything you said, but especially the "classless" comment. A couple years back we had a party of six eating there when the waitress spilled a whole glass of wine on my fiance and I (most all of it on her though). Needless to say, the meal from there on was more or less ruined. I can't remember the food which says something there...However, when the bill came the manager told us they would take 25% off of her entree order. Are you kidding? For an "upscale" restaurant to only off a small percentage off of her entree (note that it was not her entire meal) after quite literally spilling red wine all over her and getting some on my pants, embarrassing us, and not being able to walk around Portsmouth afterward, is absurd at best. The clothes were stained and a lost cause. I wrote three emails and called numerous times trying to get compensation for dry-cleaning attempts and the clothes' cost but got absolutely zero for a response. Nothing. Not a returned email, phone call, or anything. I have been adamant in telling anyone who suggests it to avoid it because of the lack of any class and just completely poor business practice. The situation could easily have been remedied and I would have returned, but they could not have handled it any worse. Extremely poor class. Thanks for bringing this up halffull!

    1 Reply
    1. re: obraustin

      At a minimum, they should have paid for the dry cleaning bill or replace the clothes if they were ruined. Many places would have dome that AND comped the bill.

    2. My wedding rehearsal dinner at The Library was a disaster. It was several years ago, but it was so bad I can't imagine ever going there again for any reason. "Classless" sums it up nicely.

      1. I haven't been in a real long time, like years long, it used to be very good. Sad to hear this place has not been kept up, i like the inside atmosphere and small private dining side rooms.

        1 Reply
        1. re: treb

          Me to...I want to love this restaurant for the building alone but alas that just won't cut it.

        2. Ok, here’s my tale of the Library . . .

          Just after moving to the Seacoast area, I was looking for a job and went to the Library as they were advertising that they needed help. With resume in hand I went there at around 4PM (about an hour or so before dinner service). The door was open and there were a few people in the bar room. I stood at the host stand for a few minutes, then I walked into the dining room (really lovely dining room) and then loitered about the host stand a bit more. Next, I walked into the bar room, yet no one ever addressed my presence in the 9 or so minutes I was there. So I left the resume on the host stand and left. I wasn’t surprised that I never heard from them nor was I disappointed. I got the feeling the place had its day in the sun and that day had long passed. That the place is still in business I think has to do with a booming bar business (a long held Portsmouth tradition).

          10 Replies
          1. re: bewley

            I'll admit that I do like to sit in the bar and have an ice cold martini and their mussels.

            1. re: HIW

              And I've heard that their drinks are very good . . .

              1. re: bewley

                Rubbish. I will guarantee you that any place that boasts of specializing in 96 "martinis", doesn't know how to serve a well-prepared Martini (the name of a particular gin cocktail, not a beverage category).

                Also laughable: carrying 120 vodkas that are all by definition colorless and odorless, but not one solitary bottle of straight rye to make a real Manhattan, which is the least you'd expect to be available in an old boy's club atmosphere.

                1. re: AbeFroman

                  I too am a purist. Your martini comment is spot on! There's only one "martini." If you make it with vodka, it's called a vodka martini. A martini is gin and french vermouth, well chilled, and served straight up in a cocktail glass.

                  1. re: harry_sparrow

                    Yes, I agree, but I never mentioned "martinis," I only mentioned their "drinks."

                    1. re: bewley

                      True, it's the restaurant itself that mentions "martinis". And, I've yet to be proven wrong on this... if an establishment calls their specialty drinks "martinis", they aren't the place you'll find skillfully-prepared cocktails.

                      Having that many vodkas on the shelf leads to this formula: [Unflavored/Flavored Vodka + Artificially Flavored Schnapps/Liqueur + Fruit Juice/Muddled Fruit] = [ ____-"tini"].

                      The fact that they're a self-styled steakhouse of sorts makes it all the more ironic that they don't have the ingredients or know-how to prepare two chophouse staples: a well-made Martini (gin, dry vermouth, and orange bitters please), and a Rye Manhattan.

                      1. re: AbeFroman

                        Well Abe, let me ask you then; where is the best place/bartender in the Seacoast area to get a real martini??

                        1. re: bewley

                          NH Seacoast? Nowhere.

                          That is, if you're going by my strict-bastard definition of including orange bitters. 555 in Portland might have them on the bar. The only place in NH I could think of that has them on the menu is White Mtn. Cider Co. up in the North Country.

                          But to relent a bit, and relax the definition of a well-made martini, I'll ask myself the following:

                          Where on the seacoast will...

                          • a bar have a good selection of gins, including Plymouth, London Dry, and if you're really lucky, Old Tom?

                          • a bar stock fresh dry vermouth? (Vermouth, dry or sweet, is an aromatized, very lightly fortified white wine that spoils if left open at room temp... all the moreso if dispensed only a 1/4 oz. at a time and the bar never turns through its product. It needs to be refrigerated.)

                          • an establishment have a well-trained bar staff that knows how to build the drink? Measuring their pours, portioning the ingredients in a classic dry martini ratio, STIRRING the drink with cold, fresh ice (not the wet stuff that's been melting for hours at most bars) for up to 20-30 sec, and straining into a pre-chilled cocktail glass?

                          • a bartender know how to prepare a proper twist; cutting a slice of lemon peel to order, expelling the oil on the surface of the drink and rim of the glass?

                          I'd say the best place on the NH Seacoast the get a "real martini" would be at home.

                          1. re: AbeFroman

                            "I'd say the best place on the NH Seacoast the get a "real martini" would be at home."

                            What time do you open??

                            1. re: bewley

                              Funny - I had a terrible "Manhattan" at the Sheraton hotel in Portsmouth - it was just a martini glass full of Jack Daniels with a cherry.

                              Believe it or not, the Portsmouth Brewery makes a good classic martini - although you might feel more like getting a beer there.

          2. All funny/sad stories. My wife and I had a lunch there for our son's baptism about a year ago. The food was good--I think--definitely not memorable. Overall a very weird experience. Although I will say that my parents and in-laws absolutely loved the place.

            My story: We had some drinks in the bar before lunch. While in the dining room, I looked at the bar bill and realized that the bartender didn't charge us for several drinks. I went back, told him, and paid the additional. I'm pretty sure I didn't even get a thank you.

            Then, toward the end of the meal (did I mention that aside from us, there was one two top in the place?), my brother was messing around with my older son. Can't remember what they were doing, but it was definitely nothing too outrageous. Just enough to keep a three year old entertained and from melting down. If anything, they at least made that morgue a little bit more lively. Anyway, without anyone else even noticing their antics, the bartender and scolded my brother as he was walking through the dining room--as if we were at someone's funeral. Wait--morgue, funeral....

            That is a beautiful space. It would be great if it were made into a restaurant that is brought a few decades forward into the present.