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Shout Out to Ceres Street Bakery in Portsmouth!!

Just a little shout out to my favorite lunch spot in Portsmouth, NH!!

Ceres St. Bakery, located ironically enough on Penhallow St, is not to be missed. A locals favorite, often decorated with a colorful mix of artists to bankers, this bakery serves up fresh baked breads and an array of homey lunchtime concoctions. There are generally: four soups to choose from (Hurray for Fall!!)
two entrees (almost always including a vegetarian dish)
two specialty sandwiches (in addition to their ever present make your own sandwich board)
flatbread pizzas by the slice
fresh salads
egg wraps in the morning
and of course an array of sweets.

The bakery generally has an assortment of full sized cakes available at all times too.

It's counter service, as you might expect, and manned by some delightfully non-conformist types who seem to know most of their customers by face if not name. What's best is the open kitchen, whether by design or default is to be considered, but allows the customer a sense of being involved in this ever buzzing hub.

A tiny dinning area is suplemented with extra tables in an additional dinning room- brightly painted, decorated with local art, and the kind of spot where someone will always leave a newspaper behind for you once they are finished.

Three cheers for something non-corporate, inviting and real! Three cheers for folk who deliver (I almost forgot to mention the food) DELICOUS, FRESH, and QUALITY PRODUCT and PORTIONS!!

Long live Ceres St., Bakery. I just love ya.

New London NH, anything?

Spending the weekend in New London, NH and wondering if there's anything worth discovering in this tiny town.

I checked an old blog, but it looked outdated. We'll be travelling a bunch during the weekend, so any suggestions within a 10 to 15 minute drive or less would be much appreciated.

Hoping to find something other than pizza in this college town!

Thanks in advance for any help you can lend.

Brazo, Portsmouth NH

I'm doing it. I'm kicking off the conversation on Brazo in Portsmouth NH. Recently opened by two female restauranteurs who started Green Monkey, Brazo is located just across the street from its popular big sister.

Much like "the Monkey", Brazo has gotten a lot of buzz and seems to have been busy most nights I've happened by. I wonder though -is this just new-restaurant-curiousity?

The interior is pretty cool, transporting you from New England to a more metropolitan and
distinctly warmer destination. The look of the place is much more appealing to me than its sister restaurant The Green Monkey, and it seems as though they must have poured significantly more finances into reworking the existing space.

The menu, working with the visual concept, is a latin hybrid.. Cuban pulled pork dishes, Rellenos, Adobo Tuna dishes.. Though there were only a few things to chose from, plenty of which looked appealing to me, but not to my date. We ended up ordering mussels to begin- which, while delicious, were a daringly smaller portion than most you'll find in this town. Still, they were perfectly, and I mean Perfectly prepared.

My entree left something to be desired. While not bad, it didn't blow my socks off by any measure. I ate it up, but would have easily done just as well cooking at home. My dates entree was considerably better: the rellenos were beautifully presented and my bite of his dish was also delightful. But again, I wondered if I could do just as well with a trip to the grocery store for fresh spices? Maybe though we just chose the wrong things to order...? My take on The Green Monkey is similar: that they do a few things really well and the rest is give or take. (For instance, the Espresso Rubbed Steak is great, as is the Pad Thai.)

Maybe the experience would have been better if the service wasn't so rough around the edges. The crew seemed to lack confidence- and maybe that will come with time. Part of the reason I think the Green Monkey has had so much success is because one of the women is a phenomonal front-woman. Social, always there, comfortable, seems to remember everyones face if not their name. We were not met with that same energy by any staff member when were were there. Our server came back asking us to remind him of our entree selection, forgot our bread after mentioning that he would be right back with it, never offered a second round of cocktails though we were finished with our first round halfway through our meal.. The runner who dropped our food was somewhat unpolished as well. HOWEVER: the pacing was perfect, despite the fact that the place was packed.

That's it. That's what I've seen. Anyone else?

Black Trumpet Portsmouth NH

Visited The Black Trumpet in Portsmouth, NH this weekend with a couple of girlfriends and thougt I would share the experience..

We arrived somewhat late after failing to get a seat at the newly opened Brazo. (Any news on Brazo?) The upstairs wine room was somewhat full, but we were seated relatively quickly after the staff tidied up an uninhabited but not-quite-clean-yet table.

Our waiter was fantastic. A tall gent with a lot to say, I was pleased with his service, but mostly his honesty. How often do you really luck into a waiter who will openly advise you of not only his favorites but the items that he suggests not ordering? I found it refreshing, yet I wonder why such items are allowed to appear on the menu at all.

We gals shared fried olives and almonds (surprisingly tasty starter), a lobster and crab crabcake (the waiter recommended with the caviat that he realized it sounded touristy), raddichio salad, a coban salad, garlic shrimp, and a smoky tomato soup. All was delicious and fresh, with exception of the smoky tomato soup. The flavor was splendid, but simply too strong. I felt certain that it would have served better as a sauce or marinade. The overwhelming flavor was a dissapointment.

Our cocktails were delicious, the service fluid. We left happy, but perhaps a little lighter in the wallet than I would have liked to. A cocktail, a raddichio salad and a dissapointing soup and I'm over $35 the pourer? Ouch. Still, we had a lovely experience in their cozy and romantic setting.

I certainly recomend it, though I wonder about the consistancy of their dishes. Any thoughts?

Rutland Vermont

While Rutland's not the most beautiful place in New England, or VT for that matter - there are a couple of highlights. Staying on Rte 7 is not adviseable, but I'll have to agree with a few of the others: Countryman's Pleasure is an elegant yet cozy spot boasting some fantastic Austrian fare and splendid service. My favorite though is Little Harry's. Take West St. dwntown (literally down the hill) and look for the sign on your right hand side- just before the second or third stoplight. It's a small, eclectic spot that's always treated me well. Great service, professional but inviting atmosphere, freshest produce in town. The menu, like the decor, has a great variety.
There are certainly other spots to try in Brattleboro, Woodstock, etc. But, if Rutland is the most convenient local for your trip I'd say you can certainly find a lovely meal at Little Harry's.