Eating Portsmouth – Saturday Dinner

When I started planning our little getaway a couple weeks back I turned to OpenTable in search of a restaurant for Saturday night. While spontaneous is nice we often get in a rut of what do you want, no what do you want and neither of us ends up satisfied. By finding a place in advance and making a reservation I knew we had one decision made so we could go about our Saturday adventures. I looked for a place with a mix of offerings and cuisines. To make a long story short we ended up dining at Black Trumpet Bistro.

Nestled in a row of 19th century brick building near the waterfront Black Trumpet is a smallish space with maybe 15 tables on the first floor and a bar upstairs. The exposed beams and brick could make it a dark space however a well designed lighting plan made it feel open and welcoming.

We both skipped the Restaurant Week menu tonight and partook of items on the regular menu. We started with fried olives, almonds and garlic. Almonds and bright green round olives were quickly sauteed with slivered garlic and oil. The olives were great, not overly salty. The almonds were pleasant with a nice aroma. The garlic and oil made a nice flavoring for the bread that was brought to the table as well.

For our second course Ted enjoyed Brown Butter Fettucine tossed with kale, pecans and roasted beets in a carrot sour cream sauce with a soft-boiled farm egg. I chose the Spiced Carrot Soup with pistachio dust and a farmer’s cheese and raisin pastry. The soup was good though I’m unsure what the pistachio dust added beyond a nice line of color. The pastry was served in the center of the soup. When tasted when the soup arrived it had a nice texture and good flavor. As I enjoyed the soup however it lost the crispiness of the filo and kind of melded into the soup. Perhaps that was the intent. I would have liked it better if it was served on the side.

For the entree I went for Lamb Three Ways and Ted picked the Pecan-crusted Arctic Char over a root vegetable tagine with meyer lemon marmalade. The lamb arrived as a grilled marinated loin, a very thinly sliced cured tenderloin and a “manti” dumpling filled with (I think) ground lamb. There was also a bit of English pea yogurt, some type of lamb gravy and white bean cake. All were good though the tenderloin was the star in my mind. The dumplings were steamed and quite good with both the gravy and yogurt. The bean cake seemed a bit lost on the plate. Ted’s char was nicely cooked, firm with a bit of not quite cooked flesh in the center; he was well pleased. The root vegetables were well cooked and went well with the fish.

We were both quite full so we opted to share dessert. Ted chose the grapefruit meringue cloud with kiwi salad and honey sabayon. The meringue was denser than I expected and was a bit of a challenge to cup into bite size pieces. The sabayon had a strong honey flavor. A nice finish to a good meal.

The meal came to $120 (including 2 alcoholic beverages and tax but not gratuity). We wandered back to the car happy with the meal and our trip so far. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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