Monday, June 18, 2012

THE KITCHEN, It's Where You Want To Be

When was the last time you went to a restaurant and wanted to go back to it every single day until you ate everything? As I sit here at “The Kitchen” in Portsmouth, NH …watching other people’s food come out I feel nothing but anger and rage…Angry because I didn’t order whatever the hell that person has, and rage because…well should it really take more than thirty seconds to get the food I just told the lady I wanted thirty seconds ago?! Let’s pick up the pace here slackers! I got a menu to eat my way through!

I had heard of The Kitchen a few times from several people over the course of several months, and just like me, I gave the obligatory nod and “oh, yeah…we should definitely go there.” Even one of my Chef friends kept pushing for us to go to lunch there and again I smiled and nodded. Keep in mind this friend has sniffed out some decent chow in the past and I should have just dropped everything at the mere mention of the restaurant, but I didn’t.

Finally I got the call from my buddy who left this message on my voice mail “Hey Cat F’cker…just had the French Dip over at The Kitchen and if you don’t go this very minute and eat something… you’re an A-hole!” This is how friends from the restaurant industry talk to each other so Cat F’cker is most definitely not an insult, but rather a term of endearment. On the other hand A-hole may have actually meant A-hole in this particular context.

So I called my friend back to get a few more details on what it was exactly he had. When I got ahold of him he was breathless explaining to me all the details of the sandwich and how it came and what it tasted like…like a schoolgirl explaining to her best friend how Bobby in English class finally asked her to the Junior High dance. Although these days I guess they call it middle school…why is that? Is it because the word “junior” was demeaning to the students’ self-esteem?! But I digress…

So I arrived at the place late for a lunch service and there was still a pretty good crowd in the place. I looked at the menu board which wasn’t particularly big, but to my surprise was a sort of greatest hits of everything I liked to eat as far as sandwiches are concerned. This was going to be like deciding which baby I was going to save, and which baby I was going to toss off a cliff.

It would be so much easier to choose if they had a tasting menu of sorts…or if I had an unlimited budget and the stomach of an Anaconda so I could unhinge my jaw and eat my own bodyweight in food. Of course there would be the issue of the staff working around me for a week while I slept the food off…”Can I help you?!” I was asked as I was the next in line…

Yeah I’ll have the Cuban sandwich…Oh, and the Porchetta sandwich…Oh, and the Spudsters…and that’s it…I think…yeah that’s it…. Oh, and a sweet tea…Now fine and wonderful people, you know I’m not the type to go into the mushy details as in… “The creaminess of the slaw played nicely off the spice of the pulled pork.” But rather…let me give you some broad strokes…because you have brains and me explaining how this played off from that or “I tasted hints of melon as it danced on my tongue” just sounds idiotic. You can take it to the bank if I say it tastes good it’s good, or if I say Bad…it’s probably like South American Poison Dart Frog bad.

The Cuban was good, really good… but be fair warned it isn’t the typical Cuban sandwich you may have had elsewhere. Now get over it, because it’s that good. If it helps you, call it a Havana Cupid cause you’re gonna fall in love with it and it’ll probably shoot straight for your heart. But don’t go getting too head over heels for this thing cause you gotta move on to the rest of the board and might I recommend your next affair be with a sassy little sandwich called the Porchetta!

The Porchetta is a lot of things but one thing it’s not…is flavorless! The one thing it is…is de-friggin-licious! What?! “Delicious how Pav…I mean Cheetos are delicious right?!” Ok good point people, words like Delicious, tasty and yummy are probably overused (and anyone who uses the word yummo should be summarily beaten with a sock full of frozen lard) so let me set the bar for this kind of delicious. The Porchetta is so good, after having one you’d happily punch a kitten or exchange sexual favors with a farm animal for the opportunity to eat another.

Oh dammit, then there’s the pickle. The pickle reminds me of a half sour, and is done in house with the end result being somewhere between the sensation of having no shame, and being a Viking warrior going off to pillage and conquer…having already been forgiven for his sins. Ok, that may be a bit of a stretch…but the pickles are pretty damned good. As for all you pickle haters out there…I don’t know if you will be allowed into Heaven or Valhalla… because I’m pretty sure that the people who stoke the fires of hell for eternity are pickle haters…just sayin.

The Slaw was tasty, simple and with each and every sandwich or burger I ate, I felt some primal urge to add the slaw to it. The same way I want to eat slaw with every hot dog I have or add bacon to everything but the toothpaste I brush with in the morning…in the evening I’d seriously consider adding bacon to it if only to give me a shiny coat and strong teeth. Anyway the slaw is good, simple and reminiscent of my aunt’s recipe that I use as my go to slaw.

The spudsters are great…I’m sorry…What is a Spudster you ask? A spudster is a pillow of mashed potato surrounded by a nice crunchy coating that is deep fried and seasoned one of several ways and served with one of several dipping sauces. Or to put it another way: A Spudster is a pillowy cushion of mind blowing sex, dusted with ecstasy and dipped in nirvana. Pretty good …right?!

Look…to sum it all up, I had a bunch of things there and I’m still trying to make my way through everything without revisiting things I’ve already had and it’s hard…really really hard! Everything has been good and I can’t say you should avoid anything except spontaneous combustion and shit made with flax seed instead of really delicious fat. To my knowledge nothing at The Kitchen will make you do the former, or has any of the latter…

The co-owners and Chefs Mike Prete and Matt Greco are doing a super job with the food there. If they were making people any happier with what they are doing, they’d have to be called prostitutes instead of chefs. I spoke with Chef Prete and he made me privy to a few ideas they have in the works and all I can say is wow, I think I have found my new adoptive daddy’s! That is, if they don’t mind adopting a forty something year old with a penchant for good food and Irish whiskey…I think I’d make an excellent son, well given a proper and generous allowance that is.

The one thing I think I can throw out there is that Mike and Matt have talked about a food truck…yup… this would be amazing. The problem as I see it is that Portsmouth and a lot of smaller surrounding towns make it nearly impossible for food trucks to operate. So to the city of Portsmouth may I say this…Grab the hair on the back of your collective heads and give it several short tugs, and then one good hard yank to dislodge the head you’ve had stuck in your ass for so long regarding food trucks. I would greatly appreciate it and so would anybody who likes…oh I dunno…food! So do me a favor and bring it up for a vote tomorrow… and pass it!

Mike, Matt and the staff down at the Kitchen are doing a great job and I hope someday they are able to expand to a full on night time dinner menu. Mostly because that will cover all three meals and all I need to do if the adoption idea falls through, is put a cot in the back so I’m assured not to miss anything…When you go there, order anything…you can’t go wrong. And give my regards to Dad…uh, I mean Chefs Mike and Matt…They’ll definitely put a smile on your face.

The Kitchen

171 Islington Street Portsmouth, NH 03801

Eh YO Mikey Burger!

Spudster with creole seasoning and roasted pepper sauce

Eh YO Mikey with slaw and pickle


  1. Godammit Pav, here ya go again! I want to charter a Lear Jet to NH, but the wife said she'd cut my nuts off, and we've got another week of work, so I guess it's on the bucket list....unless they deliver?

    1. Thanks for reading Tup! Glad you enjoyed...Maybe I should have said after eating a sandwich here, you'd gladly punch a kitten or have your nuts cut off?! Either way...

  2. "happily punch a kitten or exchange sexual favors with a farm animal..." HAHA! I'm laughing my ass off over here. If I ever find myself in NH, I'll be checking this place out. Hilarious piece... and after a huge lunch, I'm somehow hungry again.

    1. Thanks for reading J.K.! It'll be worth the trip...

  3. Woaaahhh! I think you liked it....a lot!! Thanks for the laughs and now I'm drooling but at least I know what to dream of tonight hahaha!!

    1. Thanks for reading Hanneke! Glad you got a chuckle or two!

  4. First of all, I'm a little annoyed that Portsmouth is so far from Nashua. I'm probably never going to have time on business travel to get over there. Then, my annoyance increased because you made fun of people who describe their food. Suck it, Pav! But then you said some nice words like porchetta. Ahhhh, pork...etta. Me likey. You've soothed the savage beast.

    1. Awwww....buck up little camper!:-) I wasn't saying that describing food was bad... just saying it doesn't work for me, and my chuckle headed friends would jump my shizit in a second if I went there. BTW... Portsmouth is only 40 minutes from Nashua...and you've probably got sick time! Thanks for reading BHS!

  5. I think spudsters were made for me. Can't wait to get back to New England and try The Kitchen.

    The term of endearment is umm.. well.. odd. I couldn't imagine calling someone you effn' cat f'cker!

    But I'm willing to try.

    1. Yes, the spudsters are really tasty... lightly coated with cornstarch to make them super crispy. Like a tater tot for grown-ups!And when you get back to New England, holler at me so ....ummmm.... you don't have to go to such an awful place by yourself...;-)

      Yes well with regards to Cat F'cker... that is fairly mild in comparison to some things you are called. If you haven't already ready Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential....there is a chapter in there thatdescribes in fairly good detail "Kitchen Slang". It's fairly enlightening to folks that haven't worked in the back of house...although I doubt that kind of talk is hear at French Laundry or Per Se.... it is used at a vast majority of restaurants...

      Thanks so much for reading!