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“My new Portsmouth destination” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Portsmouth Book and Bar

Portsmouth Book and Bar
40 Pleasant st, Portsmouth, NH 03801
+(1)603 427 9197
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Ranked #23 of 160 Restaurants in Portsmouth
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Cuisines: American, Bar, Coffee Shop, Bakeries
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night
Description: A bookstore/cafe/bar
Portland, Maine
Top Contributor
193 reviews 193 reviews
142 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 73 cities Reviews in 73 cities
175 helpful votes 175 helpful votes
“My new Portsmouth destination”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 14, 2013

This is a wonderful cafe for grabbing a sandwich or a snack with your coffee, beer, wine, or book. There are very good beers on tap and the price of the food is quite reasonable, running between $7-$12. Being a bar/cafe, there's a small selection of sandwiches and salads, along with appetizers and pastry items. I especially enjoyed the cheese plate.

The staff was super friendly and the space is great. The Portsmouth Book and Bar is located in the old customs house. The ceilings are high and there's lots of light from the windows and wonderful crown moulding. You can sit along window benches, in comfy couches, along the bar, or at one of the tables. It all feels very welcoming.

Just as good as the food and drink (and maybe even better) was the book selection. I have to hand it to the buyer. On our visit we found excellent first editions and remainders, and the literary quality of the selection was pretty high.

This is definitely my new Portsmouth destination.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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38 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Top Contributor
76 reviews 76 reviews
44 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
“Bright and airy but limited choices on menu”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2013

We stopped in for lunch. Bright, airy and welcoming - tables for two or four plus couches in two areas. Great setup to sit and chat - not the loud background hum that prevents relaxed conversation in some restaurants. Wifi available - we did not try it we did observe others were happily typing away. Floor to ceiling windows let in the bright sunshine which was very nice on a rather cold day. Floor to ceiling bookcases with new books which were on sale for about half the cover price (the person who suggested Bar & Book to us said they sell what are traditionally called 'overstocks' or 'remainders' ; we browsed the cookbook offerings and there was quite a variety of recent books). The menu choices are limited to four or five salads and about the same number of sandwiches. Both of use had salads - one was quiet generous (Southwest) - the other seemed less so (Beet & Chevre). Prices seemed a bit high for what is offered - we'd probably go back for a tea and a break on a day out but I don't think we'll lunch there again. I'd rate it five stars for someplace to stop and have a cup of tea, etc. but only average (three stars) given price and food.

  • Visited March 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Books and a bar-- you can't go wrong!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

We happened to walk into the Book and Bar while we were walking around Portsmouth. It sounded interesting so we thought we should check it out. I am glad we did! The building is the old custom house so it is a neat space. There is a cafe and couches for eating or lounging. There are not a lot of books but a very nice selection and all seemed to be half-off. The bar had 4 beers on tap, several bottled and a good selection of wine.This is a really neat place- definitely worth a stop!

Visited February 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Berwick, Maine, United States
14 reviews 14 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Two of the best things under one roof!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2013 via mobile

My friend and I have been to this establishment twice in December and I really dig the vibe of it. I'm a sucker for bookstores (and a good drink!) I'm shocked at how huge and cheap their book selection is! There's some truly great finds for less than what you'd pay at other stores. I bought an old used copy of the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard for six bucks. Not bad!

It can be a bit confusing when you first get there (seating is limited) but browsing the shelves is a great way to pass time while you wait. There's also a lounging area with a sofa and some comfortable chairs, too. The menu is fairly small but there's a decent selection - it's simple and not pretentious. The average price for a sandwich is about $7, and other items go up from there. The cheese plate (which I highly recommend) is a little more expensive and while it may not seem like much, the presentation is enough to serve as an adequate snack. I was impressed with the chutneys (I think one features quince?) It's delicious, and if you're an adventurous sort, it's fun to pair them with the different cheeses as well as the candied nuts. I'm also fond of the fact it features sheep cheese (I'm pretty sure it's sheep cheese). Anyway, if you love cheese, it's worth a try. My friend and I have also tried the quince and apple pressed sandwich with brie cheese. It's a perfect balance of flavor - brie has a tendency to be overpowering at times but in this sandwich it's perfectly paired with crisp apples and sweet quince paste. It comes with a small salad and is also delicious.

Ah, but why go to a place that boasts itself as a bar without getting a drink?

My friend and I have both tried the Woodchuck hard cider which is a great option if you don't feel like having anything too heavy. Their cream ale is also a good choice, and I look forward to sampling their other brew choices in the future. The ordering system is pretty easy and the service is efficient. Although, as an fyi, the kitchen does close a bit early so if you want a bite to eat, it's best not to wait until a half an hour or so before they close (we found out the hard way on our first visit). However, it didn't deter us from returning (this time we were aware of their kitchen policy) and I hope to go back soon!

Overall, if you like books and beer (or ale or cider) then this is the joint for you. I really do hope it'll stick around for a while and become a Portsmouth institution.

    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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