New eateries pop up in Portsmouth.Seems like just yesterday when restaurants were empty on Thursday nights and the less creative of the bunch were closing down. Well, the wind has certainly changed and I am smelling fresh-baked bread, spicy chicken and imported sausages in the air. On a recent May outing I found four new enterprises in Portsmouth, each exuding enthusiasm for the next new thing.Street has opened at 801 Islington St., offering street food found "all over the map." And who doesn't love street food? It's the local's finger-licking foods that spill into the streets, probably made in home kitchens and peddled to passers-by. The variations are endless but each country has a specific pantry of spices and methods of cooking that make beans and rice or sticky chicken unique to the regions.The flavors of simple regional cooking have inspired Michelle Lozuaway and Josh Lanahan to open Street. The duo has not traveled to every corner of the Earth, but were intrigued by recipes in Saveur magazine, which specializes in global cuisine. By tinkering with those recipes they developed their worldly menu. You can find currywurst inspired from Germany, Banh Mi from Vietnam, pozole from Mexico and porchetta from Italy. And that's just the first leg of the trip.The space is just a lot of fun with an urban and urbane look. Find bicycle rims made into lighting fixtures and chain-link fencing used for window treatments - all part of the hip, grunge look created by Michelle. As veterans in the restaurant business the couple have now married global flavors with the down-home local cooking you can find at Fresh Local Bayside, their café in Newington. The burger meat is also from a farm in Newington, and their famous omelets and pancakes have found their way to brunch at Street as a more conventional backbone to the internationally inspired breakfast menu. Find nods to Spain in a skillet dish with eggs, red peppers and goat cheese. Also find a special vanilla custard French toast with coconut and a German pancake, called Das Dirk.If you can't get to Newington, their bright orange food truck Fresh/Local can be found parked at the Agway in Dover on Saturday afternoons.801 Islington St.
(603) 436-0860, www.Streetfood360.com
Open Tuesday through Saturday lunch and dinner, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday for brunch 9 a.m to 3 p.m.Portsmouth Baking Company
Is this place about bread, lunch or just plain fun? I was surprised not to see a big pile of bread in the front of the store, but if there is any doubt about what is happening here you just have to watch the large LCD screens where, via closed-circuit TV, the bakers on the upper level roll it and pat it and mark it with a PBC. If that's not enough, look up when you hear a toot and watch the G-gauge model train winding its way from the bakery with fresh bread samples. PBC makes baquettes, boûles, pain de mie, brioche, five-grain and more, but one cannot live on bread alone. Lunch can be had cafeteria-style with a choice of an entrée with two sides for $12. Selections include chicken biscuit pie, roasted chicken marinated with cilantro, grilled tofu and more. Sides include roasted beets, organic Tuscan kale and ponzu steamed broccoli salad or choose from a variety of sandwiches on PBC bread. Breakfast selections range from a frittata to french toast made with the pain de mie. The menu also includes bread pairing plates to sample PBC breads with hummus or cheese or you can order a number of healthy salads. Beyond bread, the bakery whips up cupcakes, scones and muffins.The coffee station offers a variety of sweeteners including Truvia, while the cream, milk and 2-percent is on a tap system. It's obvious that a lot of money and love have gone into this operation. The staff is welcoming in their powder-blue shirts, the space is gorgeous with the limestone walls that are washed in light in the evening, and the antique or antique-looking cupboard and tables make you think you are in France. Even better news is that PBC is supplying fresh bread to local restaurants just hours after it comes out of the ovens.121 Congress St., Portsmouth
(603) 319-8841, portsmouthbakingcompany.com
Open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.The Kitchen
The former Celebrity Sandwich on Islington Street has morphed into The Kitchen, a deli with a foot in both the Old World and the New Age. In addition to a deli case, find a bar serving wine and beer, and a sandwich board serving all the usual suspects with an upscale twist. Imported provolone and imported prosciutto can be found on the Tuscan ($8) laid out on a small baguette from When Pigs Fly, also located on Islington Street. It's not humongous - more appropriately sized, like you would find in Italy. Other choices include burgers of Angus beef, single-size grilled flatbread pizzas ($7 to $8) and a selection of Reubens, hot dogs and pasta dishes.171 Islington St., Portsmouth
(603) 319-8630, thekitchennh.com
Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.Surf, Portsmouth
Michael Buckley has done it again. Taking his Surf Restaurant concept in Nashua to Portsmouth was a bold move. While the Buckley's Bistro across Main Street languished a bit in the down economy, Surf was always hopping. Fun cocktails, an engaging, large bar and fresh seafood prepared simply or elegantly, your choice, brought diners in.The new Surf on Bow Street is new construction, a kind of rarity in Portsmouth. The space is bright and airy with again, a roomy bar. Most seats have a fine view of the waterfront, including several curved banquettes.The raw bar, a real hallmark of Surf, has a nicely varied selection of oysters, along with meaty cocktail shrimp, lobster meat, ceviche and a few smoked fish options.It's not all about fish. One of the most popular dishes in Nashua is the surf and turf with two filet mignons topped with two Jonah Crab cakes ($36, $21-half) that trades on Buckley's Steakhouse in Merrimack.Unlike the Nashua location, Surf in Portsmouth is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week with dinner service starting at 4 p.m.99 Bow St, Portsmouth, surfseafood.com
Reservations are accepted for parties of seven or more.
This article appears in the July 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine