Portsmouth, NH is a cute seaside town with a surprising array of good restaurants. Steve and I were playing in a bridge tournament in Newington, a 15 minute drive away, so we decided to dine in Portsmouth. We went to Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Café, a restaurant specializing in fresh seafood. I was concerned, as a lot of the reviews mentioned bad service and noisy ambiance, but despite the negativity, all still stated that the food was great.
Luckily, we had an excellent dining experience. Our server was friendly, attentive and Steve liked the wine she recommended. The restaurant was more upscale than I thought it would be – I was expected a more casual seafood shack vibe. The noise level was what you would expect for a Saturday evening, certainly not overbearing.
We started with the fried calamari. The calamari was clearly fresh, not frozen and very tender. I thought the batter was on the thick side, but it was crispy and fried well. It came with a zesty tomato sauce for dipping. The portion size seemed to be on the small side, but that was fine.
The menu includes an array of fresh fishes, pan seared or grilled, served with a choice of sauce, mashed potatoes, broccolini and cippolini onion. I got the day boat monkfish, brought in from the local docks, with a citrus Dijon sauce. Steve got grilled swordfish from the Gulf Stream, with herb and garlic butter. Both were fabulous – I couldn’t decide which one was better. My monkfish was perfectly cooked, with a meaty, toothsome texture and his swordfish exploded with garlicky flavor. The potatoes were good, but the broccolini was a tad undercooked.
We shared a slice of key lime pie for dessert and it was shockingly good. The crust was thin and crispy and allowed the bright, sweet, tart custard filling to shine. A perfect end to the meal.
Jumpin’ Jay’s should definitely be on your to do list when you are in the Portsmouth area.
Food: A -
Service: A -
Value: A -
Overall: A -