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Wentworth by the Sea: save your money (long)

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Wentworth by the Sea: save your money (long)

suzyb | Aug 14, 2003 09:52 AM

The hubs and I had dinner at the dining room at Wentworth by the Sea last Sunday night. I hadn’t heard much about the place before hand, except a glowing review by the Lowell Sun and one favorable comment on this page. The chef’s background also sounded promising, and I thought perhaps the renovated dining room would be beautiful.

However, it was very disappointing and definitely not worth the cost. Even the dining room wasn’t that nice. Sure, there is the original dome with the painting of cherubs, but that’s it. The rest of the décor is quite standard hotel boring. And the room is freezing.

The food is ok, sometimes good. I started with the lobster bisque ($8), which was tasty enough, with a few morsels of lobster and an extremely tiny fried corncake. The hubs had tomato and Roquefort tart ($5), which seemed like a store bought tartlet shell filled with good, but not great, tomatoes and one small chunk of cheese. Quite uninspiring.

For main courses, I had the pan-roasted halibut with horseradish mashed potatoes and wilted spinach with bacon and lobster ($25). There was only a tiny amount of the spinach stuff, but it was delicious. The mashed potatoes had no horseradish flavor, in fact, they had no flavor at all – they seemed to be totally lacking in butter, cream or salt. Not worth eating. The fish seemed to be good quality and cooked nicely, but it was really bland. I asked for a little more sauce to go with it, as they had only given me a tablespoon or two. I was given a small ramikin of sauce, and to my surprise, it was the same lobster bisque as my appetizer- how lame. Also, the fish was covered in fried shreds of leek, which were impossible to eat with the fish, as they just got stuck in the back of your throat. You could only eat them one tiny shard at a time, so you could devote your undivided attention into turning them into less palate-stabbing shapes.

Hubs got the lamb chops ($29?), which were cooked a little rare for his tastes, but he’s new to meat eating and maybe others would be happy with it that way. The incredible thing about this dish, was, although it was described on the menu as coming with morels and fava beans, it actually came with standard mushrooms and big old tough peas. When this was pointed out to the waiter, he cheerfully said, “oh yes, we’ve been serving it that way for a while, they just haven’t gotten around to changing it on the menu yet”. Well, then why don’t they tell you when you order it? I love morels (but don’t like lamb), and they could be a deciding factor in my choice of dish. The lamb also came with some doughy gnocchi and dull brown sauce.

The wine list had extremely little to choose from under $40/bottle. And 98% is American. Not to say that there isn’t plenty of good American wine. But please, at least give us wine cheapskates something decent to drink besides the stuff that is featured in the huge displays at the liquor store for less than $10 a bottle. And the “assistant manager” was quite snooty about serving it.

The service was the worst of all. We had to wait a half an hour before being seated, with practically no apology. That was all right, we wandered around and looked at things in the lobby. Our waiter was a young guy, with an attitude more suited for one of those places where all the waiters/waitresses all get together and sing “Happy Birthday” to embarrass someone for their friends’ amusement. We ordered a bottle of wine, along with our food. The waiter came back to say they didn’t have the wine we ordered, so we chose another one. Then our starters came, without a spoon for my bisque. I was surprised that they brought the appetizers before the wine, and was told “well, sometimes the kitchen just works that way”. I asked for some bread, as I could see other tables had breadbaskets. The spoon came. Then the wine came. I asked again for bread. The bread came as we were finishing our appetizers (boring, sliced sourdough with three butters: plain, plain and chive). Our wine glasses were never refilled, which doesn’t bother me that much, except this is the kind of place where you might expect them to do this. On the whole, the service was unprofessional and depressing. We did not undertip, however, as we felt the waiter was a kid who didn’t know any better and had not been taught properly by the management.

I know this place is new, and hopefully they will work these problems out. But they really don’t seem to care very much, so I’m not too hopeful. The hotel rooms are very nice, with some lovely views and most of the young staff seems to be trying. Stay at the hotel, but spend your food dollars in downtown Portsmouth if you want a nice meal.

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