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Mar 28, 2014 11:42 PM

Mombo in Portsmouth:The Good and the Meh

I have to tell you, I felt so guilty not eating at Black Trumpet, our go-to whenever we go to a show or film at the fantastic Music Hall. But I just wasn't impressed by the BT menu of this week. We WOULD have gone to the Green Monkey, except that it doesn't exist anymore. I asked My Love to choose between Mombo and Moxy, and he chose Mombo.
The Good:
-The room. Handsome comfortable open-to-the-rafters barn construction; wood, chinese red paint, subdued fabrics, antique paintings throughout, all due to Mombo being part of Strawberry Banke.
We sat by the fireplace and had a beautiful view of Prescott Park across the street.
- Bar drinks were good and generous.
--Crispy crusted hot table bread was a nice touch.
-Crab and Butternut Squash Chowder . Rich clean creamy base. Flavorful and lovely, no cornstarch.
- Duck (rare) cooked to perfection with unusually tasty meat.
- Lemon Ice Cream and Chocolate Ice Cream, house made
-Excellent, pleasant, efficient, knowledgeable waitress who was not on Automatic Pilot; she really thought about the details.

The Meh:
-- Special App of Octopus, cavatelli, white beans. I set aside the red pepper marinara sauce (which i detest w/ seafood) so maybe i shouldn't be dissing it because the dish lacked oomph in a major way. But plse tell me- have you ever been served octopus as part of a dish like this- that was MINCED beyond recognition- either taste or visual? Just plain weird.
--The mini torta of swiss chard and chevre, the side to that lovely duck, was mushy in texture and muddy with indistinct flavors. Sambuca demi was made well but i don't find licorice a good complement to duck.

My Love enjoyed his Scallops w/ Cajun Creme Anglaise but i didn't taste it.

Unfortunately, I think this young chef has a long way to go with his palate. (ymmv) Too bad because i loved the room and the feeling and service there. Is there any chef in Portsmouth as talented as Evan at Bl Trumpet?

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  1. Is there anywhere in Portsmouth you can get an octopus app that it isn't chopped up? I'm just wondering if maybe it's a regional thing, and they're scared that the local folks will be squicked by the whole octopus there? I could see that happening here in central Vermont because people are just.. often not that adventurous or something. There are a LOT of dishes that are "regionalized down" around here. :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Morganna

      Hi morganna from my fav state of VT! YOU lucky devil- you can drive to Misery Loves Company in less that 4 hours!
      Octopus- i love it, been eating it for a long tme. It almost all comes from Spain or Portugal (shipped frozen). But i have never ever seen it minced. Def not a regional thing. Black Trumpet's chef Evan, and surely Mombo's chef, know to serve the tentacles sliced crosswise. Only answer i can figure is that he was trying to stetch what little octopus he had- for this daily special app. Tssk tssk.

      1. re: opinionatedchef

        And yet, though we go up that way once a month, we haven't made it back to MLC! There are SO many awesome places to eat up there. We're even getting some really great ones that are worth a trip in Montpelier and Barre (of all places!) :)

        Thanks for the info about octopus. Your explanation makes sense.