My reasons for choosing Mombo as the location for my birthday dinner were threefold:
1. pristine location: right across from Prescott Park and Strawberry Banke where The Dunaway once resided
2. ambiance: spacious, classic old New England feel, exposed beams, back and front patio
3. mysteriousness : new to town, no marketing, no online menu (gasp!)
In fact besides location, a few mouth watering pictures of the cuisine and the building's facade, and the ability to make reservations and facebook and twitter connections, Mombo's website is empty. Since I am a social media junkie, the facebook/twitter accounts sans online menu really spoke volumes. Can a restaurant do this!? Are they that good?
Mombo's message: "Creative, internationally inspired cuisine served in the heart of Portsmouth" was spot on.
We were greeted immediately and taken to a table on the recently unveiled back patio right in front of the amazingly romantic water fountain!
So naturally prom poses happened:
In the minutes it took me to use the ladies room (which could have its own blog of glamour shots by the way) the waitress visited our table and left a wonderful surprise for my return, a delicious savory bread basket with oil and butter. An array of warm rolls and bread served immediately without a question or plea earns top marks and giddy claps.
Unfortunately, I was unable to remember or relocate the cocktail I imbibed that evening but there was gin, prosecco, grapefruit juice and lemon. The rest is up to your imagination. My dining companions ordered Old Brown Dog Smuttynose Beer and glasses of Red Wine.
On the menu, appetizers are separated into hot and cold plates and we ordered one of each. The Duck Spring Rolls-$9 and the Burrata Cheese -$10
Burrata Cheese: Fresh mozzarella filled with ricotta and served with caramelized mushrooms, watercress charred onion and corn sauce.
The duck spring rolls won the award for most successful appetizer. The delicate pastry supported its fillings with surprising ease and the pickled ginger, carrots, scallions and cilantro perfectly harmonized with the duck. The soy/ginger sauce was the grand finale; bringing all the ingredients together. It wasn't that the burrata cheese was unsatisfactory; it was actually very elegant and refreshing. The different textures of the two cheeses blended rather naturally together and with their mushroom counterparts, but dare I say it, the appetizer was over priced.
Because the menu was not available online, the hours leading up to dinner were not filled with perusing the options on the world wide web or looking up unrecognizable words included in the description. For once in my life, it didn't matter. One look at the Kobe Cap Steak and I was sold. Dusted with porcini mushroom and served with an herb compound butter, batonnetot crispy fried potato and rosemary roasted carrots.
I paired my Kobe Cap with a red wine that was not Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Cabernet. It is however lost in my memory. While the name escapes me, the relationship formed between Kobe Cap and this Red Vino will always make my heart skip a few beats.
The Kobe Cap Steak fulfilled the hopes and dreams of three out of the four at the table. The Crispy Chicken fulfilled Amanda's. Half of a free range chicken with hand rolled cous cous, heirloom tomatoes, grilled vegetables, and a parsley and garlic gremolata.
The executive chef and owner Matt King came over to our table to welcome us to Mombo and talk about our experience thus far. I spoke highly then and will highlight again now, the service at Mombo. Our waitress, Rose, was very knowledgeable, attentive, charismatic, and genuinely cheerful about her involvement with Mombo. Overall the buzzing atmosphere at Mombo was warm and familiar yet unique, special and full of class. Mombo is well on its way to becoming a Portsmouth best.
Dessert was enjoyed at home because when your boyfriend buys you a Friendly's Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream cake, you do not want anything else. Nor should you.
Thank you Reese's, Mombo, Matt and friends for making July 14th so memorable!