Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fresh Air and Fiery Chili in Portsmouth

I think most people in NYC can understand the need to get out of the city and breathe sometimes. For Rob and I, that place of refuge is Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It's the perfect New England port town with eclectic shopping, cozy coffeeshops and, of course, great food. We probably pay our sanctuary a visit about once every eight weeks or so. I can't think of many places I'd rather be.

We almost always start our day off at Colbys. This cozy little establishment has a fireplace, warm red walls and local art hanging on the walls. We partially come here because there aren't many other breakfast choices in the area -- the Friendly Toast always has a wait and isn't even very good, and while Popovers has puffed pastry the size of your head, they don't offer table service, or much beyond your standard bakery fare for that matter. Colby's it is, then.

But aside from the lack of choices in the area, Colby's has something very special to offer -- Lobster Benedict. It's on the specials list about 80% of the time, so there's always the fun anticipation of waiting to see whether or not it will be a lobster benny morning. They give you tons of lobster meat and top it off with lots of hollandaise, and for $12.99 a plate I can tell you that you'll pay a lot more for a lot less in Brooklyn.

105 Daniel St.
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Our most recent visit was a perfect fall day, with the sun shining, a tiny chill in the air, and beautiful folliage abound. And because Porstmouth is a real-life Pleasantville, that Saturday just happened to be Portsmouth's Chili Fest day.

The chili here came in all shapes and sizes. Some were beef-based, some were chicken-based, some were made from pork, one was even made from steak (and, it should be said, not that good). They came with beans and without, with or without scallions, any variety of salsa, with or without cheese. Some had onions. Some had stations where you can add cheese or sour cream til your heart's content. Some were served with tortilla chips. One even had a zinfandel reduction sauce (it was actually served on the steak chili and again, not recommended). The chilis here saw no limits. My favorite was a simple ground beef chili, with beans and a lot of chili powder, that left me breathing fire. Oh, you wanted a water? You'll have to wait in that gigantic line over there to buy a ticket for $2. Well, everything has its price I guess.

On the plus side, we did meet some pretty nifty new friends.

There is so much more to say about Portsmouth's dining scene. Espresso-coated filet mignons at the Green Monkey, lobster rolls at Lobster in the Rough, pizza at the Flatbread Company, crab cakes at Cafe Mirabel, fresh flounder at Jumpin' Jay's. I'll have to save those for future Portsmouth installments. Or maybe you'd like to join us for our next getaway?


ThePopCultureMom said...

Nice post. Is there anything to do there for families? Thanks.

Lauren said...

Thanks! There's actually lots for families there. It's nice to take a Harbor Cruise in the summertime and get ice cream at Annabelle's. The rest of the time there are usually street fairs, festivals, plays, etc. Check out this calendar --