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“Excellent restaurant”

Black Trumpet Bistro
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Ranked #46 of 202 Restaurants in Portsmouth
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $31 - $50
Cuisines: French
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Local cuisine, Bar scene, Special occasions, Business meetings
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Portsmouth, NH
Level 5 Contributor
66 reviews
61 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Excellent restaurant”
Reviewed December 17, 2012

One of my favorites in Portsmouth. We have been a handful of times and always been impressed. Great diversity of creative options on a one page menu is always a good sign. Fresh, local ingredients with a upscale but comfortable ambiance. Highly recommended.

  • Visited December 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank xthecritic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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317 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    174
    70
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    21
    12
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
New England
Level 6 Contributor
664 reviews
387 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 452 helpful votes
“Not as I had hoped”
Reviewed December 2, 2012

Perhaps Chef Mallett was out of town. I cannot think of another explanation. I REALLY wanted to love Black Trumpet - really really wanted to love it. But, the love affair was not to be. The evening started perfectly. The restaurant was bustling when we arrived, turning hapless prospective reservation-less guests away at the door - ah, I thought, silly them, smart me, I booked in advance, snickering to myself as we walked to our waiting table. The restaurant is lovely, charm and ambiance to spare, with it's stone walled interior, waterfront location. Menus were distributed, specials outlined, drink order taken, everything going perfectly, drinks appear, then - nothing - I mean, nothing, for close to 15 minutes - not even bread. That is WAY too long to wait to see if we had any questions about the menu, if we were ready to order, if we were still alive, to say something like, "so sorry about the wait, we are short staff tonight (assuming that was the case, or not, it's a good excuse at least!), please just give me a few more minutes" etc. Finally, we place our order, and now, let me say, problems with our server begin to surface (er, beyond that first problem of him leaving us sitting untended for 15 min) - meaning, with his attitude. I'm not sure if he is simply DONE with his job, but he did NOT want to be there. That became increasingly apparent as the night wore on - and yes, WORE on - not flew by, no, but rather dragged on. More on that later; for now, let's talk about the food.

The fried calamari noodles were tasty and imaginative, the chef's meze plate, which despite the Mediterranean term, had everything to do with the Far East, was unique and nuanced. The beet 'carpaccio', yes beeT, not beeF, with roasted fig and the mushroom and leek soup with truffled sweet frites were eaten by one diner together, which was probably a mistake, as both dishes had truffle oil and on the palate, the truffle oil became overpowering, as only truffle oil will do. The lamb-burger was quite tasty, ordered medium-rare, but it was served medium. The skirt steak was ordered medium but it was served medium rare. We think that the server or the kitchen confused the two temperatures. The pollock was lovely but the glaze on the various sauces and the sheen on the fish, looked like it had sat at the pass for too long. Which leads me to the soup, which was served only lukewarm - it was absolutely not the proper temperature. I am certain that the soup and the pollock sat at the pass too long, waiting for the other dishes for our table. The timing in the kitchen was clearly off, as indicated by the coagulated sheen of the sauces with the pollock and the lukewarm soup.

To recap, the steak and the lamb burger seemed to have had their cooking temperatures swapped, but coupled with this problem - the sweet potato frites served with the lamb burger were charred slivers. Burned to a crisp. Not just crisp - no, we get that, frites are generally very very thin and thus crisp, which is great, but do not burn them to black crispiness. On the upside, the whipped feta and the fig samba (puree) were delicious - as was the lamb itself, except don't forget, that whole mishap with the temperature.

Now, with your indulgence, allow me to return to the matter of our server. Let us recall the nearly 15 minute wait in the beginning. I am not sure how to describe this guy, though disinterested comes to mind - other than perhaps that he was without warmth, sparing not a single smile ever. He was efficient, as far as that goes if you disallow the with-nary-an-apology 15 minute initial wait, but we felt zero connection with this guy. Even at the end, there was no, "we can't wait to see you again, thanks for visiting, happy holidays, don't let the door hit you in the back" - not any of those - no connection whatsoever.

The Black Trumpet has high aptitude, but things need to be tightened up to reach the heights to which it aspires.

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank lexmiller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NH
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Excellent slow-paced meal”
Reviewed December 1, 2012

My family and I have been here many times over the years and the food is always wonderful. Even when the restaurant is busy, we have never felt rushed. The waitstaff is always willing to answer questions about the unique menu and to offer suggestions. The owner has done a great job finding a knowledgeable and professional staff. The wine selection is extensive. I always recommend the Black Trumpet to anyone I know for a special night out. This is one of my favorite restaurants on the Seacoast.

Visited November 2012
Helpful?
Thank HJMason
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Berkhamsted, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
222 reviews
111 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 96 helpful votes
“A proper restaurant”
Reviewed November 5, 2012

The food here is excellent . Unlike so many dining establishments this one has someone in the kitchen who really knows how to cook . As opposed to flip a burger . We had about 20 dinners on our New England tour and this one rates in our top 4 . So pay it a visit and enjoy its quiet historic atmosphere

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
Thank alistairbudd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Good but Could be Better”
Reviewed October 8, 2012

Riellette should be served with something to spread it on, like thin bread or crackers; the corn pudding that accompanied the veal chop tasted spoiled, and the chard was gritty. Duck breast was good but not crispy as advertised; quinoa, wasn't. It just wasn't (cooked properly). Attention to detail is what makes or breaks a restaurant. Service was excellent, however. Will not return. Ever.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Duspin S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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