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Jun 16, 2014 12:46 PM

Portsmouth and area report (and $4.99 lobster roll!)

Boothbay Harbor got postponed so it was an easy overnight from Boston to Portsmouth, always a good destination. Each bit of food was split, but it was still a lot. Started at a strawberry festival in Topsfield Center and had a delicious shortcake w/ lots of strawberries and whipped cream for $4. Took Rt. 1 then headed to Hampton Beach and decided to stop at Marky's in Seabrook which I'd heard about for a long time (the big competition w/ them and Brown's across the street). Maybe the clouds kept people away but no one was in line so we quickly got our plate of clams w/ typical fish house fries and decent homemade cole slaw (little mayo). Clams had bigger bellies than I personally like but they were sweet and nicely fried, altho a bit chewy. A. thought they were decent and loves big bellies. $18.95 for a plate which is par for the course, was surprised to see lots of complaints about how you have to mortgage your house but seemed like the usual prices.

After mini golf in Hampton and checking into the Holiday Inn in Port, we walked downtown where the Market Fair was going on. Tons of people out, weather somewhat cooperating. Had a drink on the deck of the Oar House but not a great sangria. More wandering around and saw a sign at the State St. Saloon that they had lobster rolls for $4.99. We took a chance and it was really quite good. Great buttered/grilled hot dog bun with a good amount of lobster chunks, some more chopped pieces w/ a little lettuce and chips. Def. worth the $4.99 plus it seems like a fun place with tons of TVs if you want to watch whatever game and a quieter dining room to the side. More wandering brought us to the Bridge St. Bistrot and while looking over the menu (well priced French food), we saw that they have 1/2 price apps bet 5-6. They had a cute wine bar downstairs where we sat plus a dining room upstairs and little outdoor area. We actually split a glass of GrĂ¼ner Veltliner and an app of portobello mushroom stuffed w/ lobster and shrimp. I really liked the place but wasn't big on the sauce (veloute maybe; almost cream of chicken soup tasting) and felt like the dish was too breadcrumby, yet the other half looked much more lobster filled.

We regrouped then I got sucked into watching Remember the Titans so we didn't get to Cava in the alley til about 9:20, not knowing food gets cut off fairly early even on a Sat. I had an interesting drink w/ chili infused tequila and San Pelligrino grapefruit and we split excellent grilled octopus but it was 3 tiny bites and could almost be considered a garnish (as I tried to justify my eating). The downstairs bar is cute and we had a nice Fargo discussion with a couple people working there. Sat down at the Moxy bar just in time to make an order for the "johnny cake community: cornmeal pancakes, brown sugared pork shoulder, house sauces, crispy onion, pickled cucumbers". This was okay but I felt like it could have packed a lot more flavor and one of the sauces advertised as spicy was not in the least. Johnnycakes were more crepe like, but the fried onions and cucumbers gave it a nice texture. The gal at the bar seemed pretty new but I enjoyed my Negroni. They had a heck of a time trying to perfect the drink for the guy next to me. A has it easy usually sticking with a draft which he did as we sat at the District bar. For some reason I felt the need for dessert and we were told they served til midnight, so I got a decent not too heavy banana bread pudding for $8 (did not split this one). A salad and burger that went by looked good and the bartender was super nice.

Out early on Sun. for a 10AM boat cruise around the harbor then stopped at Kaffee Vonsolln on Daniel St. I'd been up for almost 5 hrs at this point so we split a breakfast sandwich and a cherry kuchen of some sort. Sadly the eggs and bacon were the microwaved kind so no-eggy shape or crispness, but the biscuit it came on was great. The cherry thing was fine, w/ an iced coffee it was about $11. Hit Bull Moose records and after enjoying the day some more, started driving on Rt. 1 south thru Rye to the Tuna Striker in Seabrook. I'd come across this place looking for beach places and it sounded cool. On the water, off the beaten path, beautiful sunny day, nice servers, that was all good. The lobster BLT was kind of a bummer. We knew the lobster flavor would get disguised but it s a good thing it did cuz it wasn't very tasty. The fish n chips basket I thought was pretty decent, fresh lightly fried fish, ok fries and a good tiny dab of cole saw. My watermelon margarita tho had no lime or booze flavor (tho I certainly appreciate the watermelon puree) so I actually asked for a little more and they did it. Hopefully without spitting into the drink. At $17 and $15 I think, it wasn't bad but knowing the tasty lobster roll we had for 4.99 made this inferior one more of a bummer.

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  1. I like going over the river for a visit to the incredibly scenic Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier in Kittery.

    Definitely high on my list of favorite New England lobster "shacks".

    1. Fun read, as usual J!

      Just curious - have you ever tried Warren's Lobster House just across the bridge in Kittery (you can see it from Bow St)? Not much chatter about it. We were considering it next time we're in the area.

      EDIT: Ugh...I just found one thread. Sounds bloody awful. Never mind!

      2 Replies
      1. re: digga

        Yelp reviews were all over the place but not so bad. I've only been to Bob's in Kittery but hope to to hit more of Maine this summer. (Altho I just pledged to eat healthy before I go on vacation 7/3 and plates of fried clams don't fit the bill).

        1. re: digga

          Nothing wrong with warren's if you are looking for straight ahead seafood like you would get at a shack, but want options other than fried seafood, seating, air conditioning, and/or a bug free environment without standing in line. My wife and I eat lunch here whenever we are in the area and are not anywhere near retirement age. ;-) I have had fried clams here that are way beyond the quality of Bob's and rivals the best ive had in new england.

        2. Fun report, thanks! We went to Petey's in Rye where we shared a lobster roll with French fries plus an order of onion rings and clams. Too much food for two people. Don't normally like fries but their's are good. they won't sub onion rings like some places will. Would like to explore other clam shacks (used to go to Ice House in New Castle) but husband is stubborn about going to a place we know is good.