Sometimes life is easier when you cut down your choices.Last night's dinner reminded us why Black Trumpet is the only place we ever choose to dine in Portsmouth; the only Portsmouth dinner spot where we LOOK for an excuse to drive an hour north from home
(rather than 1/2 hour south into Boston) - to the pleasures that we know await us there! (If we were lucky enough to have a few days in Portsmouth, we might choose a second restaurant, but if we can only choose one, it's BT in a heartbeat.)
Owner/chef Evan had a rare evening off, and his wife warmly greeted us on a frigid winter seawindy night. Opening the wide plank 18th c. front door, we blew in to the warm dark candlelit historic space(rough hewn beams, brick and granite walls, it began life as an 18th c. chandlery and warehouse) and settled into our favorite table. The BT bar has always been stellar, and my Cosmo and My Love's Bantam Rojo were terrific.
Probably my fav thing about Evan's food is his adventuresomeness and showcasing of spices and elements often unfamiliar to me. His soups, (the 'real test' of a talented chef, imo) are always a treasure; and last night the Tunisian Carrot Soup was just so. The surprising star of the Red Quinoa and Cashew Salad with Harissa Vinaigrette- was the parsnip creme fraiche- making for a perfectly balanced plate. One of the most important things for Chef Evan is his commitment to locally sourced products. One bite of the Lamb Chops with Lamb Sugo, and Lemon Spinach dumplings- and you know you will not taste lamb this flavorful at home! Being a port town, the fish at BT is always changing and always a great choice. My salmon-like corvino was moist and complemented by a lively romesco sauce and saffron rice with nettle broth. Desserts seem to have improved of late and the Bacon Beignets with Coffee Pastry Cream were a wonder! Even the table bread- house made rye- with pickled mustard seed butter- had us requesting a second basket. Our server, while new to the skilled crew here, was as sweet and warm as the space.As always, we'll be back to Black Trumpet, and meanwhile, we'll still be savoring the memories of this meal !