Our Boston blogger trip to Portsmouth brought us on a fun and food-filled journey that ended in dinner at the highly acclaimed Black Trumpet Bistro. I didn’t know much about the bistro except for the fact that at the Hood Dairy Challenge in 2010, Michelle and I got to taste food made by Chef Evan Mallett, and it was delicious. The Black Trumpet Bistro is on the banks of the Piscataqua River, a fact that is fun for me because my own hometown was settled by the Piscataqua tribe and was called Piscataqua before getting it’s modern day name, Piscataway. Yes, friends, this blog is just full of useful information.
We headed to the Black Trumpet Bistro hours before our reservation to snap some photos in the daylight, you know, since it gets dark at 4:00 these days. I immediately loved the outside; its brick façade, window boxes, and signs make it look very European. I couldn’t wait to check out the inside, but we had awhile before the wine bar opened.
After some more wandering around Portsmouth, we finally got a chance to sit at the wine bar at the Black Trumpet Bistro. I adore a good wine bar and have a hard time finding one in the area that are anywhere near as cozy or intimate as my favorite wine bars in Ireland, but this one definitely lived up to my expectations. The dimly lit bar serves some great cocktails and wines by the glass, and with just a few seats, would be the perfect place for a date. We split pitchers of a harvest sangria, and before we knew it, we were ushered to our very large table at the back of the downstairs dining room, another cozy, romantic space. Luckily, it was also empty for our 5:30 reservation and made a great place for nine chatty bloggers.
Portsmouth was celebrating Restaurant Week during out visit, and though I usually find the occasion hit or miss, I ended up ordering off of the special menu both because the price was right but also because I had such a hard time choosing off of the regular menu. I wanted everything!
I got started with a glass of Viognier and a piece of the Black Trumpet’s signature black trumpet mushroom bread. While I was a fan of the citrusy butter, there was something too sweet about the bread for me. It was more like a muffin with mushrooms.
For my first course, I ordered the kalamata and black bean soup with mole crème fraiche. The combination intrigued me, and not feeling the best, I wanted a comforting soup. The flavors were definitely interesting, the richness of the black beans enhanced by a subtle brininess from the olives. It was smooth, warm, and flavorful, just what I wanted.
My main course was a truffled squash risotto cake with poached lobster and sauce verte. The fragrant, earthy truffle aroma permeated our dining space, and it made me very excited to dig in. Firm risotto, dotted with soft squash was a delicious base for tender lobster. I didn’t think the sauce verte was even needed and didn’t get much flavor from it. I also got a big chunk of lobster shell, but other than that, the dish was fantastic and very filling.
So filling that I could only muster a bite or two of dessert, a German chocolate beet brownie with milk chocolate frosting and beet whip. The very pink beet whip was tasty, a sweet, fresh whipped cream, and though a small part of the dish, the candied orange peel on top really stood out to me. The brownie was very dense and fudgy; I couldn’t really taste the beet in it, but I could sense a little earthiness. Perhaps some of the density also came from the beet’s presence. I wish I could have eaten more of it, because it was very enjoyable. It was just not to be.
I thought the Black Trumpet Bistro was, for the most part, very good. The food was solid, though I may still be wishing I ordered a few things off of the regular menu, like the pumpkin soup and the mussels. I would definitely return to try more dishes; their local and seasonal focus means new items