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Coast Into the Creative Scene of Portsmouth


2. Where to Eat

A French Laundry alum puts an imaginative New England spin on tapas at Moxy.  

Sample remixed New England flavors at Moxy, which opened to national acclaim in 2012. Chef Matt Louis, a New Hampshire native who got his start at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, puts 21st-century spins on ingredients that have been popular in these parts since Colonial days—take his crispy bravas-style “patatas Portsmouth” ($5) and housemade, Maine-style red hot-dogs ($12) in place of traditional chorizo. Hasty pudding, the ground-corn porridge that shows up in a verse of “Yankee Doodle,” is transformed here into frites, served with molasses barbecue and buttermilk dips ($5), while sailor favorite salt cod is done up Provençal-style in a whipped brandade, with lovage, smoked paprika, cured egg yolk, and grilled bread ($7). For dessert, try Whoopie pie sliders ($8) or the flight of puddings—Indian, honey, and buttermilk ($8). Even the drinks here are uniquely local: Look for the New English, made with Art in the Age rhubarb tea liqueur, Sweet Baby Vineyards pear wine, and Appleton Farms maple syrup ($9); or choose from the microbrew draft menu heavy on New Hampshire and Maine beers.

Taste hyperlocal produce at Black Trumpet Bistro, helmed by James Beard nominee Evan Mallett in a Colonial-era ship’s chandlery. His seasonal menu, which draws on Mediterranean, Latin, North African, and Middle Eastern flavors, changes every six weeks based on whatever’s available at the restaurant’s nearby farm in Stratham or at area markets. From the second floor, gaze out at tugboats on the Piscataqua River as you sample dishes like a paella of local fish, chorizo, mussels, and shrimp ($32), chicken paillard with ramp risotto, chorizo meatballs, and black-olive salpicon ($26), or lobster agnolotti with shellfish fumet, garlic mustard, and yellow-eye beans ($13).

Look for the oversize knife above the door at Cure, which opened this January. The logo is a play on chef Julie Cutting’s name, but the restaurant’s name has its own double meaning: Cure stands both for Cutting’s charcuterie (including house-cured gravlax) and for the more general curative effects of her hearty American bistro fare, such as orange barbecue short ribs with grilled zucchini and Merlot-infused Yukon gold potatoes ($20) or crispy-skinned duck breast with creamy herb polenta ($19). Be sure to start out with one of Cutting’s tributes to her home state of Maine’s favorite crustacean: a lobster martini appetizer, with sweet corn, shallots, and garden chives ($16); a slow-simmered shrimp and corn chowder ($9); or a macaroni and cheese with Ritz cracker-crumb topping ($20).

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