Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh….This is a library

I was recently in Portsmouth (as noted in an earlier post), looking for a nice dinner spot, and talked-up one of the hotel front-desk employees for recommendations…she came up with “The Library” on State Street.

Their website touts it as “The Best Steak House on the Seacoast” in one of the “most valued landmarks.” Modest, they are not, but despite the hyperbole, the succeeded on every level.

If you ever went to “Finally Michael’s” in Framingham, MA, then you know exactly what The Library is all about. It is located in an old, historic building, with very high ceilings, bookcases filled from floor to ceiling, multiple fireplaces throughout the room, linen tablecloths and napkins (one comment here though-they should have the option of black napkins in addition to white, so that white lint won’t show up on dark colored clothing). We had a 7:00pm reservation, and we were promptly seated upon our arrival, in a quiet corner near a fireplace.

The menu can be best described as “continental/steakhouse” with the typical offerings of beef, beef and slightly more beef. For a meatatarian like myself, I’ll embrace the cow, and all its delicious parts, but for Mrs. Palate, the choices are somewhat limited, and for the second night, it seemed that salmon was her choice.

From the start of the meal and all the way through, our waiter was extremely attentive and prompt, yet unobtrusive. He appeared when needed, but didn’t bother us during the meal. He listened carefully as Mrs. Palate explained her food allergies, and checked with the Chef to ensure there would be no mistakes. Though he seemed young, the waiter clearly was well trained and took pride in his work, which we greatly appreciated.

For dinner, we each had a mixed green salad, with homemade red wine vinaigrette (and not the kind they doled out at The York Steakhouse). I had the 16oz sirloin (just not up for the “Man v. Food” challenge of a 24oz Rib-eye steak), sautéed spinach and we split an order of roasted mushrooms. Mrs. Palate had “Pan Roasted Scottish Salmon” with white beans and fall vegetables in a light garlic broth and a sweet potato. My steak was tender and cooked to perfection, and the fish was expertly prepared and was very pleasant in presentation and in taste, with the garlic broth and vegetables. The other sides were also very good and served hot and fresh.

While we did not have coffee or dessert, the dessert tray included some wonderful looking items, including a very rich looking “7 Layer Chocolate Cake” and the “Peanut Butter Pie.” After a full day of outlet shopping and a very satisfying meal, I just couldn’t force in one more bite...but Mrs. Palate and I both agreed: The Library was an excellent experience and grossly exceeded our recent meal at Morton’s. I give The Library a “platinum palate” and “two forks up”.

Of course, by the time we got back to our hotel (a 3 minute ride), I was ready to go…for ice cream. So, in the pouring rain, we walked down to the waterfront to Annabelle’s Ice Cream. I had a very small cup, and it was quite tasty, but the impressive part was that all their homemade ice cream is certified “Kosher”. The owner told us that it’s expensive, but worth it, and we found out that he services over 100 retail outlets besides his own shop. Got to give him props for the Kosher certification, and in the future, we’ll be giving him our ice-cream consumption business when in Portsmouth. I would encourage others to do so as well.

Next time you’re in Portsmouth, enjoy The Library and Annabelle’s Ice Cream, but for now, enjoy “Eat It” by Weird Al…