The District - with its warm colored walls, pendant lamps, large-format paintings and welcoming bar - just earned a spot on my "Favorites List" for Portsmouth. A creative menu of contemporary American cuisine, The District brings fresh flavors and locally grown produce to the table.
When it opened in July 2011, owner David Takis saw the need for a restaurant that stayed open late and served "really good, quality food." Pairing up with Chef Ian Thomas (formerly of The Green Monkey) they leave no corner of a diner's culinary journey unexplored.
The first time I ate there, a drizzly late fall afternoon, I fell in love with Chesapeake fried oysters with homemade kim chi Juneo ($11). And now, several months and a few meals later, I have developed respect for what Thomas and Takis are doing; the attention to local, seasonal ingredients combined with the care Thomas takes in his hand-crafted food is evident in every bite.
My most recent dinner at The District started with an African Bee Hive (Absolut Pear, St-Germain, muddled cucumber, serrano and lime). Typically, I'm not a cocktail drinker but this was so light and delicious it might just turn me into one. I then moved on to the fish taco with habanero sauce, ginger salsa and yuzu slaw ($8) - --hands down the best fried fish taco I've eaten since moving back from California.
A salad of grilled, locally grown asparagus and field greens with pecorino and a perfectly cooked sunny side-up egg ($9) was a clever tribute to spring. I'm no dessert eater, but the house-made fresh mint ice cream with hot fudge sauce and super chocolaty brownie was a perfect end to the evening. You know it's good when your dining partner asks gleefully, "Can I lick the plate?"
Lunch Monday through Saturday, 11:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Brunch, Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Dinner, Daily 5 p.m. to midnight
Kitchen open late 7 nights a week
Reservations recommended, but not required