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Restaurants & Bars Northern New England

[Portsmouth] Mombo

Harters | | May 27, 2012 02:13 AM

Mombo really is our sort of place to eat. The menu is interesting and quite ambitious, yet the restaurant remains friendly and welcoming. There’s an interest in the provenance of the ingredients which draw heavily on new England. The dishes often reach out to other parts of the world but the cuisine does seem to be firmly rooted in the local “terroir”.

Perhaps a perfect example of this was in a starter of maine lobster, bound with crème fraiche and wrapped in small pancakes. Served cold, three of these were presented like cannelloni, dressed with a herb pesto and a light garlic foam. The other starter took Maryland soft shell crab, fried in a tempura batter and served with a tartlet filled with a lemony hummus. It shouldn’t have worked – but it did.

This was followed by more seafood. Four local day boat caught scallops had been quickly fried – perhaps on slightly too high a heat as the charring was a tad more than perfection might require. But scallops are tricky buggers and the chef had still managed not to overcook the insides. These sat on black lentils , cooked through with a mirepoix of bacon, onion and leek. For a welcome texture contrast, there was a little slaw made from red cabbage and walnuts. All in all, a very clever dish that was lovely to eat.

The other main course was a simple Berkshire pork chop. In itself, absolutely delicious (and a very generous portion). It sat on a chickpea ^ garlic mix and a thin, very savoury gravy. The clever touch here was to grill a wedge of romaine so it was hot and cooked, but was still nicely crunchy.

We shared some cheese to finish – four different artisan products, all from Vermont – one cow’s milk, one sheep, two goat. A really good selection, not only in flavour but also in texture – ranging from a soft Brie-like one, to a very hard one, reminiscient of a Parmesan. Of the four, “Reconsider” was the oddest name and our favourite. Creamy, but with a sharp bite, it’s made in the style of an Italian Toma, by Bardwell Farm. It really is one to seek out if you can.