In preparation for Deli December, Mrs. Palate and I got away for the weekend and sojourned to Portsmouth, NH. Portsmouth has a disproportionate number of restaurants in light of their population, with an eatery practically on every corner, and a few in between. Coincidentally, this was the end of their “Restaurant Week”, and many places were offering special, multi-course meals.
We decided to hit “Muddy River Smokehouse” for dinner Friday night. Muddy River is right in downtown Portsmouth, on Congress Street, and has a small, funky bar area in front; but as you walk to the back, into the dining room, it gets funkier. The décor could be best described as “roadhouse” or “shack”. I’m ok with it, so long as they don’t let the décor draw their attention away from the food. Having been there before, I assure you they know their way around a smoker.
We went to dinner with my cousins, and they beat me into submission to start the meal with a traditional Southern appetizer…Fried Pickles. I’m as game as the next guy, but I wasn’t sure about these, but I have to say, I’ve seen the light (as well as the grease). I am embracing the pickle. These little dill pickles slices, coated and fried, were like little slices of heaven, dipped in horseradish. A party in your mouth! These little devils definitely warmed me up for the meal…these come highly recommended.
After a one-minute respite, my ribs appeared…I ordered a full rack of beef ribs, which I believe was 8 ribs. These were not puny ribs from some anorexic cow…this cow was well fed (think closing credits from “The Flintstones”). The ribs were nicely smoked, then grilled and sauced. While I usually like my ribs dry, I neglected to mention that to the waitress (who had a pleasant Steely Dan-esque name, “Aja”), and even though the sauce was a little sweeter than I prefer, it was a nice compliment to the char-crust on the ribs. Not to worry, Mom, I only ate half, and sent the other half home with my cousin, for her husband. I only sampled the cole slaw (more vinegar-based with seemingly little, if any mayonnaise) and garlic mashed potatoes, but a very well executed meal consistent with the smokehouse theme. Mrs. Palate had “candied smoked salmon” and a cup of the vegetarian chili…she was very high on the chili, and satisfied with the fish from a smokehouse. Put together the fried pickles, beef ribs and Crestor, and that’s a meal!
Revealing our new rating system (which will be described in depth in future postings), having been the Muddy River three times, and never disappointed, we give it a golden palate (second to the top rating).
More later, but for now, enjoy some blues…