My folks were spending a couple of days in Ogunquit, so I met them halfway and drove up to Portsmouth -
Based on previous threads on the board, I selected Pesce Blue as a place that would serve my adverturesome tastes, my father's generally appreciative attitude toward some different foods and mom's rather finicky nature.
So for apps:
Mom - Caesar salad - proclaimed to be good - nicely appetizer-sized.
Dad - Niman Ranch salami plate, I think three different varieties, accompanied with fresh figs, cheeses, and a large-seed sweetish mustard that he loved. Simple and tasty - he was concerned that he would have to share - it was not necessary. :)
Me - Grilled octopus with green beans, olives, grape tomatoes, some sort of salty, crackly bits (which dad insisted were bacon, but I am reasonably certain it was some sort of panko-ish thing) The octopus was one large tentacle, tender with a slight char on the outside, which complimented the meat - cut into three section. Very good appetizer (although this was listed as a small plate).
Mom - Swordfish, grilled - nice size - medium thickness - on a bed of curious white beans and mushrooms - had an interesting flavor (couldn't quite place it and didn't want to figure it out, lest it freak mom out what she was tasting). She enjoyed the dish very much.
Dad - Salmon - Proclaimed very good - didn't taste it but the filet was fully cooked and was a fair portion.
Me - Skate with cippoline onions, I think some fennel, other good things - First time having skate - this meat of this fish came off in fibrous strings, almost like the way fake crab legs come out - but so tender - and the flavor, almost a little crab-like, the backfin area that is.
As I was eating my entree and deflecting the parents' "Skate-ing" jokes, I explained that some food you taste in your mouth, some you also taste at the back of your throat and nose, and sometimes it's so good that you taste it in your shoulders, chest and back. For me on this night, the skate began to hit those other taste buds.
Wines by the glass were ok - I had a Sangiovese with the octopus that seemed a little bland and muddy? I've had ones that are a little perkier, sharper. A shiny slightly syrupy (in a good way!) Pinot Grigio with the fish that was a good counterpoint to the richness of the dish.
Mom: Lavender creme brulee in a large ramekin with some fresh berries - Creme brulee is the one dessert that she loves, but the lavendar initially threw her for a loop, (Lavender? I put that stuff in my closet!) but was enjoyed very thoroughly.
Dad: Tiramisu - proclaimed very good.
Me: Had a soothing, dry and custardy panna cotta with one large blackberry, (although the menu said native blueberries). I am no panna cotta expert but it was a very pleasant way to end the meal.
Decor is modern (concrete walls, mod lighting, little tea candles and orchids alternating, quiet techno-latin lounge music) - Service was good.
This is the kind of place that you might expect in Boston - it definitely strives to have a level of sophistication that is not entirely in step with the Portsmouth vibe, generally speaking. But Portsmouth has so many interesting restaurants - I don't think I've ever had a bad meal at any restaurant there. Prices at Pesce Blue are in the single-low teens for apps, pastas and small plates in the low-mid teens, fish entrees were all around the low 20s, desserts $7.50.
Website is www.pesceblue.com
I would recommend this restaurant to others for a special meal, fancy date or a splurge (Thanks Mom and Dad!!) and I would like to return again.
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