This place is expensive. The menu items read like you're going to get something special. For example,
"A slow braised rabbit served on a bed of creamy mascarpone polenta accompanied by our own house-made rabbit sausage and sweet pepper relish and then garnished with a tempura battered pepperoncini."
OK, here's the real deal. You don't get what you pay for here.
I had a pear salad with walnuts. The pear slices were not from a ripened pear. The greens, served on one-half of the plate, had a dressing that was just plain bitter.
Our table had three different entrees -- sirloin strip, veal osso bucco, and scallops. The veal was tender but fatty and bland. The fingerling potatoes were over cooked. The sirloin strip tasted OK, but was tough and hard to chew. The scallops were no better than those served in lower-priced restaurants. There was nothing special about any of these entrees. And, the service was very slow (which is not the waiter's fault).
The restaurant is nicely appointed with oil paintings and seating that gives you plenty of privacy.
Our waiter could not have been more accommodating. When I mentioned the flavorless veal, he presented us with a dessert "compliments of the chef." So, they do try to make their customers happy.
Two final items. I just checked my AmEx statement on-line, and we were charged twice for the dinner! Also, I failed to mention that the wine we ordered was not the wine that came. No one noticed until the bill came, and the wine was twice as expensive as the one we ordered -- no great shakes either.
With so many other good restaurants in Portsmouth, you can do better than Mombo.26/03/2012 We take our guests reviews and feedback very seriously at Mombo. We are striving for excellence on… En savoir plus
Much to our dismay, Pink Bamboo is the only Chinese restaurant in downtown Portsmouth. With all the fine restaurants downtown, this is a real opportunity for someone who can deliver good Chinese.
On a positive note, the staff is always very friendly and accommodating. The place is clean.
The atmosphere leaves much to be desired. The tables are close together, sound carries, and this is the last place you would go for a quiet evening. Often there are large groups, and the noise is deafening.
The real issue, however, is the food. Everything is bland. The hot and sour soup lacks real tang. The spring rolls are more like egg rolls. And, where are the shrimp? The crab Rangoon is very sweet and just "off." Our entrees were bland to a fault. You expect Szechuan to be somewhat spicy, but here it's not.
I would like to recommend good Chinese in the area, but we have yet to experience it.
The gold standard for upscale Mexican in New England for many years was the Sol Azteca on the Boston/Brookline line just outside Boston. Unfortunately, the last few times we visited, we sensed a new chef without the former attention to every ingredient.
In downtown Portsmouth there are two Mexican restaurants -- Pacos Bow Street Cantina and Agave. I will save Pacos for another review.
We have been to Agave a number of times, primarily for dinner. It has a very pleasant atmosphere, and the service has always been friendly and attentive. The food is very good, starting with the fresh chips and salsa. The chips arrive warm. The salsa has just enough tang to be very tasty.
Our main courses have always been well-prepared with super fresh ingredients.
The other evening my wife and I both had the enchiladas with a sampling of chicken, beef, and cheese. All were tasty, as I said, with fresh ingredients. The beef is shredded -- not your standard hamburger filling.
You have a choice of sauces -- rojas, verde, or mole. My wife had verde, while I had rojas. Remember the Wendy's commercial, "Where's the beef?" I say, "Where's the sauce?" You could not distinguish my plate from my wife's plate. This is where Agave falls down. Apply a liberal dose of sauce to each dish so that you can distinguish the enchiladas by the unique flavor of each of these three sauces.
We ate here for the first time last weekend, and Rudi's is a class act.
There was live jazz with a piano player and a bass player. This added to the fine, intimate atmosphere. We were seated at a quite table, and we had enough space to feel other tables were not on top of us.
The homemade bread, with two different butter spreads, was served warm. It was as if fresh out of the oven and very flavorful.
Our Caesar salads were large and prepared (see below) almost to a tee.
My wife had scallops on mac and cheese (!), and I had a filet with garlic mashed potatoes. The scallops were cooked to perfection. My steak was superb, and the potatoes could not have been better.
Our server was very attentive, but not in an intrusive way. And, when we were done, our check was promptly presented. She also went out of her way to help us out of a jam. We had parked in the Hanover Street Garage which only takes cash. Unfortunately, I had left without any cash, and my wife did not bring her purse. She placed a five dollar bill on the table with our check and said, "Just add it to my tip." Wow, that is real service.
My only complaint was with the dressing on the Caesar. It was not conventional and tasted more like Italian than Caesar. It was, however, very tasty, but I would have preferred a more appropriate dressing. This one criticism does not detract from this five-star restaurant. It's a bit pricey, but you get what you pay for here.
Our second experience the weekend of May 18, 2012 was not as good. My steak was overcooked (but still tasty) and the potatoes were just lukewarm. Our server seemed distracted. These problems caused me to downgrade my rating.
This restaurant does it almost to perfection. The food is terrific; the atmosphere is great. The only improvement could be the service. When everything else is superior, you expect great service. The hostess and our server were young. I don't hold that against them. Management needs to focus its attention on training.
We arrived for our 8:30 PM reservation and were told the wait would be 10 minutes. The hostess then ignored us as we waited patiently for 20 minutes. Give a time delay that is realistic and always seat the patrons sooner. And, if you're going to be late, make sure you approach your customers with apologies for the delay.
Our waitress was fine when present. She needed, however, to be much more observant. Good waitresses anticipate your needs; ours did not. Keep the water glasses full, ask about the satisfaction with the food, and bring the check quickly once the guests are ready to leave.
Will we be back? Absolutely. But, management, focus on better training for the staff.
There are four parts to a good Caesar salad. You must have fresh romaine lettuce, buttered croutons, a fine Caesar dressing, and grated Parmesan cheese. There are great Caesar salads, but that's another story for another review. A good Caesar salad should not be that difficult to make.
The Oar House (in February 2012) charges $9 for this salad at lunch time. They failed on all four items listed above. The lettuce was old, the croutons stale, the dressing (what there was of it) was tasteless, and the cheese did not taste like Parmesan.
That said, the service was great. Unfortunately, a good waiter cannot make up for a lousy kitchen.
Last time I was here I had a BLT for lunch. I was sick by the afternoon. Won't go into gory details, but it was not pleasant. Went to bed early and by morning food poisoning was all but over.
To be fair, we had OK meals here in the past.
A number of folks recommended this restaurant, especially for breakfast. We tried the place twice for breakfast and once for lunch. Neither breakfast was special in any way. The worst was the lunch. I had a Ruben. The corned beef was tough and almost impossible to chew. Three times is the charm; we won't be returning.
This is like many good Thai restaurans -- it's in a nondescript building off the beaten path in Portsmouth. Don't let this deter you; this is a gem of a Thai restaurant. The food is freshly prepared, and the sauces (which make a Thai restaurant) are great. The only Thai food that's better is Thai Chili in Maynard, MA. The only reason it's not five star is the service. Sometimes the place is under-staffed leading to poor service.