What a great and quintessential little New England day it was yesterday! I went apple picking, I had a fresh peach from the neighbor’s tree for breakfast [ok, that’s this morning], a lobster roll for lunch and the best meal of the entire trip for dinner with Chance and Tracey.
The restaurant: 106 in Portsmouth. The fellow that owns it has 3-4 restaurants in town, apparently has a Midas touch and is very generous back to the community. All that earns him kudos in my book, but that aside the meal was fantastic! They claim they serve New England classics with a New Orleans flair and they live up to that with great aplomb.
After a sampling of the a finger of 4 local brews, including what I assume is a seasonal Pumpkinhead, I settled in with an Shipyard IPA from Portland Maine, the girls opted for the house’s best scotch and a ginger martini… It was time to start digesting their unintimidating menu. Each of the obvious sections [apps, salads, entrées, etc.] offering us only 3-4 choices. That is much my preference over the dozen or more you find on so many menus these days. Pick a few and execute them perfectly. I am slow with menus, I like to take my time and really imagine the combinations they tell you about in each dish. How would that Shrimp Etouffee really taste with grilled prosciutto? Would the Andouille sausage overwhelm a delicate mussel? Well, in their ‘starters’ section, which actually had 6 or so listings, it didn’t take me long to spot the big green bull’s eye on the radar: Maine Lump Crab & Fried Green Tomato Napoleon: Layers of crab, corn & avocado tossed in a chipotle vinaigrette OMG was this tasty ! It was the chipotle that spun it all into a Nola-ville. They were spot on with their ‘New Orleans flair”.
The entre was Chorizo Wrapped Codfish: Pan seared local cod wrapped in thinly sliced chorizo & served with lobster-tarragon risotto & lemon-Thyme asparagus. Hard to appreciate in the picture from Tracey’s phone, but the chorizo was crispy and sparked just enough heat into the dish to set off the Cajun quality of the whole plate. When I was looking at the menu the lobster risotto sounded so good I was starting to tell the waitress that that’s all I really wanted. Tracey chose the same dish and common sense returned just in time for me to follow suit.
And the perfect nightcap was a Smuttynose IPA at The Press Room where brother-in-law Woody plays in a small jazz combo on Tuesday nights. They allow drop-by musicians after 8 and there were some great horns, clarinets and a singer that jammed. Sure wish Maui had a little “Press Room” and a “106” and “pick your own apples” farm and a “floating restaurant” serving lobster rolls and at least one — peach tree!