Portsmouth, NH: Latitudes at Wentworth by the Sea

It's on One for the Table New England Reviews

Let's Eat by Kitty Kaufman, photos by Roseanna Spizzirri

This is a fish story about Latitudes at Wentworth by the Sea Hotel. It starts with a beach tour so I get to learn about the real New Hampshire since what I know is negligible. We are driving the coast at a leisurely pace. Most New England coasts are remarkably similar and this reminds me of the Cape with busy beaches and of Maine's isolated coves.

As a guest at a seaside grand hotel, chefs know you're captive since who wants to drive around who knows where looking for who knows what? In my experience, these hotels are good dining. I was in Kennebunkport years ago at a place overlooking the water. We're checking in and someone asks: "Do you have lobster?" And the desk man, who must hear this 100 times a week, says: "Ma'am, you can have lobster three times a day." (Ma'am, even a zillion years ago.) The food was very good.

lobster salad Latitudes is on a dock, so cruise up to the marina on the Piscataqua River that runs from Maine to the ocean in nearby Portsmouth. It's as scenic as you expect. Some tables have umbrellas but they're taken so we're inside and we don't mind since they're genuinely happy to see us. Roseanna's having California A by Acacia chardonnay, the least oaky she can find. Our server wants to know if we want bread. Yes, if we must and of course it's warm rosemary focaccia. With butter. This is so, so unfair. If bread is verboten, this is the place to inhale at length. We assure each other one bite does not count and can be taken sitting down.

wentworth marina The chef writes they're doing "light-hearted" culinary takes but we disagree - because this is a serious menu. Lunch speaks fish: shrimp, mussels, lobster, crab cakes and mahi mahi tacos. However, there are salads, cheeses, a burger, one chicken and more after five for non-seafarers. We both want lobster and Roseanna opts for it à la salad with cucumber croutons, mango and avocado. Until I read the menu now, I missed the croutons and that's too bad. Anyway, lobster, what more can we say other than it could not be better. It's fished within the hour and unmessed with. (We know some chefs think BLTs and mac 'n cheese are better with lobster. I'm sorry, I don't agree, and the hype is well, annoying, and it won't change my mind.)

latitude lobster roll On the East Coast when you're looking for lunch, one thing to make your day is a lobster roll. Really, it's not like you have them at home; who ever heard of lobster leftovers? Plus, it's an excuse for buttery rolls. Today's sacrament is just lobster with the tiniest bit of mayo and lemon. It is more lobster than I could possibly want. Potatoes are hot and crisp with a small cup of ketchup. As it turns out, these frites need not a thing but we dip to make sure it's our favorite and it is, since there's no place for free-ranging ketchup.

I'm sorry we're too full for dessert; no blueberry pie and no chocolate bomb. Even so, this civilized lunch is one of our best. After, we walk the dock since you never know when what you think is just another summer day turns out to be the last when it snows, which is exaggerating but not by much. We commiserate about short summers and yearning for LA weather. Next door, we see signs inviting us to view the condos but I don't want to winter on the water; I did enough of that in Long Beach. On the other hand, living within walking distance of Latitudes would be a draw and thankfully, the Wentworth has a spa.

latitude flowers P. S. The next day we're shopping in nearby North Hampton at Philbrick's Fresh Market. On their website they call themselves an "experience" among other things, what with produce, flowers, sushi, pastries, beer, wine, cheese, nuts, meat and local fish. The salad bar is quite something. Their sandwich lady makes them just the way you like and Roseanna's pea soup got into the wine. Produce is an eyeful even to someone who's shopped every market in Boston and in San Diego. Red Mill grains take up an aisle and if there's an esoteric oil you can't find, it's here. Philbrick's is the Neiman Marcus of markets.

Wentworth by the Sea
588 Wentworth Road
New Castle, NH 03854
888. 252. 6888

© September 29, 2014 for One for the Table
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