Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cafe Mirabelle, a cozy country French restaurant in Portsmouth, NH

On a blustery winter night in Portsmouth, what better place to settle in but Cafe Mirabelle for some classic French food, warm atmosphere and friendly service.  My friend and I had dinner there a little while ago when the snow was deep and the windows of Cafe Mirabelle were practically glowing.  It only took us 10 minutes to walk through the snow from the Inn.

A quick review of the menu showed a list of the best, classic French dishes, from Escargot to Coq au Vin.  But maybe we would prefer Baked Brie followed by Bouillabaisse or Filet au Poirve.  We had some trouble deciding and in the end I asked the chef to choose for me from between the Pork Loin with Calvados sauce or the Seafood Crepe.

When my Pork arrived, it was so tender, I could cut it with a fork.  The sauce of diced apples sauteed in Calvados brandy provided just a touch of sweetness to the meat.  My friend's Coquille St. Jacques had a rich, creamy sauce over scallops and shrimp.  The vegetables of the day were simple carrots and green beans steamed to perfection with just a touch of butter.  The potatoes had been sliced thinly and layered in a pie dish, then baked so that the center was soft and the top and bottom golden brown with a crispy crunch.

This is good honest food with gentle flavors that come from fresh, quality ingredients.  Nothing is hiding behind fancy presentations, foamed sauces or fusion foods.  And when you are all done with these fantastic savory dishes, the dessert menu awaits.  We had to choose among Profiteroles, homemade Sorbet, Creme Brulee, Clafoutis, Chocolate Cake or Mousse.  It was a tough call, but we were very happy with the Brulee and a Berry Sorbet.

Cafe Mirabelle also serves brunch on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Can you imagine the wonderful crepes that could be served at a French inspired brunch?  I must find time to have brunch very soon.

If you love the food here, how about taking it home but not in a doggie bag.  Instead you can take cooking classes from Chef Stephan so you can make true country French cuisine for yourself after you leave Portsmouth.  For example, this month the class was Stocks and Sauces, providing the basics and finishing for all good foods.

Cafe Mirabelle is located on Bridge Street in Portsmouth, about a 10 minute walk from the Martin Hill Inn.  If the weather is blustery, there is a big parking lot just across the street and the drive will take mere minutes.  Reservations are recommended (603-430-9301).

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