Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rudi's in Portsmouth, NH

My family had been saving this place for a night that the whole family was around - which is a rarity these days, between my moving back to the city and my brother's work schedule. We finally found a night over mother's day weekend and took advantage of it to head out to Portsmouth, NH to try out Rudi's. Overall, it was a delicious meal and albeit, a bit pricey, it's a nice special occasion treat. They call themselves "contemporary American," whatever that means these days.

20 High Street (downtown)
Portsmouth, NH

We have a bad habit of ordering way too much when we do these special family nights out. We want to try a couple appetizers, someone wants a soup or a salad, and then you have the main dishes - plus, who can forget dessert? Dessert was the one section we didn't get to though - we were fully and nothing from the menu jumped out at us. Instead, we stopped at a nice local ice cream shop for homemade ice cream! You'll also notice that my pictures stop pretty early on - it was a dark restaurant and the people next to us were giving me the look that says, stop taking pictures. I don't know what they thought, but I can assure you they didn't realize I was taking pictures for my food blog or maybe they wouldn't have cared so much.

Rudi's takes reservations and I think it was good that we made them, since it was a Saturday night. They have live music most nights - so they had a nice quiet jazz duo playing over by the bar that provided nice background music. As soon as we sat down, they brought bread to the table and it was a beautiful bread basket with both whole wheat baguette and dill rolls, as well as two different homemade butters - a roasted tomato leek and a more traditional one. They noted that their breads and butters both change nightly.

They also had a nice drink menu - with lots of unique cocktails. I think this one was the Pink Grapefruitini, which their website notes is the winner of the 3rd Annual Portsmouth Signature Cocktail Competition. Plenty of wine options as well, with a large wine list.
The server ran down a list of specials for the night and my dad quickly ordered the last scallop special that was available (picture to left), as my mother loves scallops (and it was mother's day weekend after all). The Grilled Scallops had an apricot mango vinaigrette with pickled ramps over greens. The portion was a little strange if you wanted to share - thankfully my brother doesn't like scallops so we each got to try one. Both my brother and father also tried their clam chowder, which they both thoroughly enjoyed because it wasn't too thick or too thin - right in the middle.

There were a lot of unique appetizers on the menu - we went with a salad for the table and their Fried Brie plate ($11). I attempted to stop using my flash here but you can't really see the dishes that well. The brie dish came with grapes, toasted baguette slices and this delicious dried cherry ginger compote, all over greens. I love brie - but I think I like my baked brie better than Rudi's fried brie. It wasn't quite as gooey and melted as I like my warmed brie to be. Grapes are always a delicious pairing with brie though, if you're hosting and need a good cheese appetizer pairing.
The Grilled Asparagus Salad ($12), which you can see behind the fried brie (above), had good flavor but was a bit disjointed. It came with pancetta, toasted pine nuts and capers over mixed greens in a shallot vinaigrette. The combination of capers and pancetta made the dish really salty, but the concept was there. I might try using this combination of items in a salad at home, maybe with a goat cheese or with grilled chicken.

This was all BEFORE we even ordered our entrees. They had a couple entree specials as well - one that sounded delicious enough to convince my father he didn't even have to look at the other menu selections. On the way out I noticed this chalkboard which was a great way to remember what the specials were since I hadn't written them down. My father selected #2: Grilled Salmon Filet with a fresh citrus garnish served with wilted arugula and a lobster saffron risotto. Most of the time when I order risotto out I regret it because it's so heavy, or else I would've also chose this dish.

I have to apologize that this is the end of the pictures, but I can assure you that all of the dishes were beautifully put together.

Mom - Chicken Marsala ($21)
Pan seared chicken breast with a wild mushroom marsala sauce, sauteed broccolini and garlic mashed potatoes

The Academic Chef - Seared Atlantic Salmon ($26)
House made mango and sweet chili glaze, julienne pepper, leek and carrot stir-fry, basmati rice with a fresh cilantro garnish

Brother - Beef Tenderloin ($28)
Pan seared 8 ox. tenderloin, finished w/ your choice of Rudi's house steak sauce, gorgonzola cream sauce or fresh chive and rosemary butter served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed haricots verts.

My salmon was good, but it was so dark in the restaurant that when I was questioning how well cooked my salmon was I couldn't see clearly enough so there was a large portion of the salmon that I left on my plate. I am happy to report that despite the word "chili" in the description, my dish was not spicy. There were mixed review on my brother's tenderloin - he enjoyed it but my mom thought it was tough. My father ate every last bite of his salmon - and I tried his risotto which was delicious but very heavy and I don't think I could've eaten more than a few bites of it at once.

Because there are so many great restaurants in Portsmouth that I'd like to try I don't think I would rush back here too soon. I liked the atmosphere and unique menu options but the overall food quality and prices across the board didn't wow me.

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