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“Not a good dining experience”

Jumpin' Jay's Fish Cafe
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Ranked #6 of 202 Restaurants in Portsmouth
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $22 - $32
Cuisines: American, Seafood
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Bar scene
Dining options: Dinner, Accepts American Express, Accepts Discover, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Full Bar, Highchairs Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
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, Jumpin' Jay's is a local foodie enclave serving refined seafood in a sleek restaurant setting. 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 of fish appear on the ever-changing "Catch of the Day" menu, complimented by your choice of gourmet sauce. Our raw bar offers an extensive variety of shellfish found in New Hampshire. Our specialties menu offers more traditional flavor, including Maine Crab Cakes, Haddock Piccata and our 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
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Not a good dining experience”
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.

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1 Thank skevage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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885 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Portsmouth, NH
Level Contributor
25 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“The food is good...if you like waiting for it”
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.

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1 Thank bluephlash
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
2 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Terrible service.”
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.

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1 Thank seacoastcritic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
69 reviews
65 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Fish the way it should be”
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!

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Thank billy407
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Maine
Level Contributor
122 reviews
96 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 94 helpful votes
“The place to go for seafood in Portsmouth”
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.

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Thank nhunixguy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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