A few years ago, Four Restaurant opened in Portsmouth NH and I’ve been meaning to write a little review of my dining experience there. Other things interrupted, probably running a bed and breakfast in Portsmouth! In any case, last weekend, the Inn’s assistant Innkeeper, Erika, went to the Sunday brunch at Four and came back waxing poetically about her experience. So here is a brief note about dinner at Four and then Erika’s mouthwatering description of her brunch.
Four Restaurant is best known for the incredible local ingredients that go into the wood-fired oven that inspired the name of the restaurant. “Four” is french for oven. Chef Simon Lampert stresses fresh, local ingredients in the kitchen and sustainable practices in the restaurant. The result is just fantastic. There are two menus offered each night. The first is the Steakhouse menu offering a la carte dining. The second is a prix-fixe tasting menu which is always unique based on the freshest ingredients and inspiration of the chef that day. Main courses come with your choice of side dish. We often share our side dishes around the table.
Four is a small restaurant, so dinner reservation are recommended. And based on Erika’s description of her brunch experience, I would say a little advance planning in that area is probably also wise. Assuming of course that you are still hungry after breakfast at the Inn.
Sunday Brunch, by Erika: The warm smell of freshly baked croissants and sticky buns seemed to burst through the door, beckoning you in from the cold street. Upon walking in, I was immediately greeted by the friendly staff. The tables were set with crisp white linens, navy blue napkins, and a fresh cut flower. I was seated in the atrium, where the tall brick walls held vibrant and lively original paintings. The noonday sun poured in from the large windows and splashed over the sparkling stemware.
The waitress came over and was cheerful, knowledgeable, and attentive. The coffee was offered with old fashioned lumps of sugar, and either milk or cream. There were no artificial sweeteners or salt and pepper shakers to clutter the table. You simply didn’t need them. And not having them felt special, more organic. The first course I ordered was the sticky bun. It was warm, and had the perfect balance of cinnamon, brown sugar, and melt-in-your-mouth buttery flaky layers. Four also offers $5 dollar sparkling wines flavored with your choice of fruit nectar. The pear was delicate, balanced, and refreshing.
For a main course I ordered the Lobster Eggs Benedict. The plate arrived with artful presentation. Two perfectly poached eggs sat on top of grilled focaccia bread, nestled amongst generous chunks of fresh lobster meat. The aromatic creation was smothered in a golden house-made hollandaise sauce and garnished with a triangular wedge of hash brown. The first bite made me want to close my eyes to better savor the moment. This taste is perfection. This space is beautiful. I feel lucky to have experienced the talent of Chef Simon Lampert. He is a culinary artist. The whole experience seemed to transcend the idea of brunch. Four is one of the jewels of Portsmouth.
Four is located on the corner of State and Penhallow Streets, about a 15 minute walk from the Martin Hill Inn. Four is small, so reservations are recommended. Call 603-319-1547 or visit their website.