BG's Boathouse in Portsmouth has great seafood at a great Seacoast spot
One of the best things about summer in New Hampshire is having the opportunity to dine on some fresh seafood, preferably outside, with some beer, and a few hours to relax.
But where to go? There is a plethora of seafood places on the Seacoast to choose from – and several great places inland as another reviewing team noted in this column June 26. Over the years we had heard some great things about BG's Boathouse, which is in its 36th season, and boasts an outdoor deck and a view of Sagamore Creek, so we trekked east.
BG's is a bit off the beaten path for us, but the ride was worth it. When we walked in we were warmly greeted by the staff, who asked us if we wanted to sit inside or out on the deck. After the long drive, we were too hungry to wait the half-hour or so to sit at one of the many tables outside. But the main part of the restaurant is all open windows so we still had the view and that great smell of the ocean without the wait, and without having to pass out from hunger.
One of the few times Our Gourmet doesn't have a problem choosing what to eat is at a seafood restaurant. I always start with a cup of clam chowder ($4.50).
More often than not, clam chowder needs some crackers and some salt. This chowder was perfectly seasoned and didn't require any add-ins. It was creamy and chock full of big pieces of clam – close to the perfect bowl of chowder.
True to form, The Dining Companion chose the Lobster Bisque ($9.95). The cup was packed full of lobster meat submerged like sunken treasure in the depths of pureed bisque. TDC didn't find the bisque to be all that thick, but it was tasty and had just the right amount of creaminess without overdoing it, which he liked. We were off to a great start.
It would be an understatement to say that I am a lobster fiend. But I also, especially when I'm in a nice dress, don't like working for it, so I was happy to see that among the many lobster options on the menu, including lobster roll, boiled lobster dinner, and the aforementioned lobster bisque, that they offered the Lazy Lobster Dinner ($24.95).
The dinner is the meat from a one-pound lobster taken out of the shell, sauteéd in butter or batter-dipped and golden-fried and served with coleslaw and choice of starch.
I chose to have the lobster sautéed in butter (lobster is the only thing on the planet I'd rather eat without a crusty coating). The lobster, served in a casserole dish, was tender, not chewy, as it can sometimes be when it is overcooked. A great no-muss, no-fuss way to eat my favorite crustacean.
I also give props to the creamy, sweet cole slaw and well-seasoned rice served alongside. At some seafood places, the sides are mere throwaways, but not here.
TDC opted for the Fried Whole Clams Dinner ($23.99), which came with a choice of side and cole slaw, tartar sauce and lemon on top. These were good-sized big-bellied clams deep fried to a light golden crisp. The bellies were clean and juicy with no grit. The tartar sauce was good and sweet, an enjoyable contrast to the lemon juice I squeezed over the plate.
He wouldn't put these up there with the best fried clams he's ever had, and he's sought out the best, but he said they were certainly in the higher sphere. He added that he wouldn't hesitate to order them again, and if you're a fan of fried clams these are a good bet.
Both of us were unsure how we were going to fit dessert, but it would take something akin to a natural disaster to not at least try to give it a go.
I spied the chocolate peanut butter pie. Perhaps it was the ocean air or my happy tummy, but I left that tempting item to TDC and instead choose the Key Lime Pie ($4.99), one of my new favorite sweet treats.
The key to a good key lime pie is the delicate balance between sweet and tangy. The pie, topped with heaping helpful of whipped cream, did not disappoint.
No surprise, TDC picked the chocolate peanut butter pie ($4.99). He isn't a big pie fan and only eats pie if it has chocolate. And when it has chocolate and peanut butter, he becomes a big fan of pie. The slice was layered in cream, chocolate drizzled on top of more chocolate layered with peanut butter, all enveloped by a chocolate peanut butter crust.
During dessert it got very quiet on the other side of the table as he ate the entire piece. That's what you call a win-win.
BG's feels like a special place, but it isn't overly fancy. Food is served on disposable plates with plastic ware, but you don't mind because it is all part of the experience. Our server was attentive and despite the crowd, we never felt rushed. We were able to do what we love to do: linger over a great meal. Next time we'll have a snack before we leave the house so we can hold out for an outdoor spot.