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“Not a good dining experience” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Jumpin' Jay's Fish Cafe

Jumpin' Jay's Fish Cafe
150 Congress St, Portsmouth, NH 03801-4019
+1 603-766-3474
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Ranked #5 of 189 Restaurants in Portsmouth
Price range: $22 - $32
Cuisines: Seafood
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Entertaining clients
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Late Night, Dessert
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: Middle Street, Maplewood Avenue, Islington Street
Description: Located just two blocks down from Market Square in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Jay's has become an overnight institution among locals who appreciate exceptional seafood. The quality of fare is unsurpassed, with fish arriving daily from local fisherman as well as some exotic catches from locations such as New Zealand and Ecuador. Four to six varieties appear on the ever-changing "Catch of the Day" menu, complimented by your choice of a gourmet sauce or marinade. The standard menu offers a more traditional flavor, including Maine Crab Cake, Haddock Piccata and the popular Linguine in White Clam Sauce. The atmosphere is casually hip, with no pretense. Reservations encouraged. Open Seven nights a week.
Southampton, Massachusetts
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Not a good dining experience”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2010

My husband & I on the recomendation of our motel desk clerk went to Jumpin' Jays because we wanted good seafood. We were very disappointed. To start off the wine & beer were blatantly overpriced. The halibut I ordered was under cooked & I had to send it back. The mashed potatoes were cold and tasteless. The fact that they & the vegetables were the only side choice there was would make you think that they would have made them to be a tasty accompaniment to the fish. The fish itself was rather bland and not helped by the lobster sauce. My husband got the scallops which were okay but nothing special. Given the price of the food you would expect much more quality. We left feeling ripped off.

    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
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509 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Portsmouth, NH
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“The food is good...if you like waiting for it”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2010

This place is tourist trap central. I've lived in town for almost 5 years now, and many of my friends who have lived here even longer have never been before. The reason is that it is constantly crawling with people, and none of them ever seem to be locals. There's never a quiet night where you can sit down and talk with friends and get some food fast.

I've been twice, and even with reservations, they make you wait 15 minutes for a table. What's the point of having reservations then? After being seated, it generally takes another 10-15 minutes to get water, bread, and a waiter to come over.

The only redeeming factors about this place is that the staff is friendly, albeit slow, and the food is very fresh and well-prepared. The oysters especially taste like they were dug earlier the same day.

But be prepared to wait for anything. I ordered a salad and some oysters (ie. food that doesn't have to be cooked), and it took almost an hour. For UNCOOKED food! There's really no excuse for this even on a busy night.

Also, the prices are pretty steep. Be prepared to pay over $20 for a fish dish, as well as over $10 for some appetizers. Beer is ridiculous here, as a bottle of beer (12 oz.) goes for $6 or more. Order a martini, it's about the same price and way more bang for your buck.

The only problem is that there aren't a lot of options for seafood in downtown, and in a seaside community, that's what people are looking for. Portside Seafood just opened, but that seems like a clam shack, so if you like that sort of thing, try them instead. Even Sake, the Japanese place across the street from Jumpin Jays, has good fish dishes and a lot of selection.

    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 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.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Terrible service.”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 9, 2010

Had a 6:15 reservation. Arrived promptly, but was told it would be "a few minutes" by the Pollyanna hostess. After 15 minutes we were finally seated. It took our waiter 18 minutes to come over to take a drink order. Another 15 minutes and our wine hadn't arrived yet. I asked the hostess and she said--"oh they've just been poured--I'll go get them for you". In fact--we had seen our drinks sitting up on the bar for the past 10 minutes. It pretty much goes downhill from here. Took another 15 minutes for our waiter to come back to take the food order. Bottom line--we arrived at 6:15, were seated at our table at 6:30, the waiter came over to our table at 6:48, came back at 7:05 to take our food order. We must commend the hardworking busboy--someone (i.e.-- owner Jay) should probably put him in charge because he was the only one that seemed to know what was going on and kept up with water, fresh silverware, etc. The fish was good (halibut), as were the mussels. Salads were ok. Dessert ok. If you are looking for a special night out--this is definitely NOT the place to go.

    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
60 reviews 60 reviews
58 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
“Fish the way it should be”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 8, 2010

We've been to Jumpin' Jays several times but last night topped them all. I had the pan seared halibut with lobster veloute sauce - awesome. My friends had the Yellow fin tuna salad - all three diners were thrilled. We had three apps. The calamari was wonderful, the escargot ok (needs some garlic, I think), and the fried oysters were were spectacular. We wrapped it up with one of the finest creme brulees I've ever had.

I'm a bit mystified by some of the previous reviews. I think those that were disappointed should choose one of those overly creative places down the street - the ones that pile all sorts of odd items on top of each other - looks more like art than food. This restaurant simply delivers some of the best straight up fish dishes we've had on the Seacoast. What's better than choosing your favorite catch of the day and then selecting your own sauce?

My biggest complaint over the years has been the acoustics - a bit deafening in the past. It appears they have worked on that. Last night was busy, but we were able to chat nicely without yelling. Be aware that this is a bistro style eatery - fun and lively. For a super quiet romantic meal, search elsewhere.

The service was excellent - team style waitstaff means all your entrees hit at once. The martini was great too. We'll be back and will send friends!

    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Portland, Maine
Top Contributor
117 reviews 117 reviews
93 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
91 helpful votes 91 helpful votes
“The place to go for seafood in Portsmouth”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 2, 2010

If you've visiting Portsmouth and you're thinking about seafood, go here. The food is good and frequently local. On Tuesdays, Oysters are $1 but check their web site to see when this promo ends. We always take people here because it's always good.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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