This past weekend, Justin and I bopped up to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for a mini vacation. We have wanted to go up there for awhile now since we heard a few people talking about how nice of a town it is and how many good restaurants, shops and breweries there are. We headed up on Friday morning and stayed until Saturday afternoon; it was a quick trip but it was long enough to get a feel for the town and do a little exploring.
We stayed at a great place called The Ale House Inn; the inn is located in a building that used to house part of the Portsmouth Brewing Company. It was an awesome little inn with exposed brick and beams and a great mix of modern and rustic features and the owners really seem to take pride in their business. Plus, they give you complementary beers when you check in! Plus plus, since Portsmouth is an historic seaport, a lot of the decor was nautical. Sold.
Since the center of Portsmouth is so small, everything was within walking distance. The owner of the inn gave us some recommendations for lunch spots and we headed out to grab a bite to eat. We ended up at a The River House which has great chowder and better views.
We bopped around town a little more and happened upon the Portsmouth Brewery. Now Portsmouth actually has 4 different breweries, which is pretty impressive for one town, so we thought that it was only right that we check at least one of them out. The restaurant part of the brewery was hoppin’ (see what I did there?? Hoppin? Hops? Beer? No? Tough crowd…) so we sat at the bar and mulled over our options. They brew their own beer, as you might have guessed, so we decided to go with a sampler to try a little bit of everything.
Don’t worry, those are very wee beers, served in what were pretty much shot glasses. We didn’t huff down 9 beers and then trot around Portsmouth.
Next up was some more exploring and sightseeing and then we stopped into an Irish bar called Ri Ra; Justin had heard about beforehand and it has a really cool history. From their website:
Rí Rá in Portsmouth was built entirely from authentic pub salvage sourced and meticulously restored in Ireland before being shipped to its new home in Portsmouth. Central in the pub is a restored bar from the famous Pulpit Pub in Waterford, itself constructed from salvage dating to the Georgian period. Also of interest from Ireland is the antique paneling from The Bridge House in Cahir, County Tipperary.
Also interesting: the bar is housed in what used to be a bank (it was converted in 2009), so there are still giant metal safe doors and a huge glass dome in the ceiling that sports the seal of New Hampshire. I tried to take a picture of it without looking like too much of a nerd:
Taking a picture: success! Not looking like a nerd: maybe next time.
Also at Ri Ra: hands-down the hottest jalapeno peppers to ever exist on this green earth. Maybe it has something to do with the beer sampler that I had at the brewery or maybe I’m just dim, but I popped one of those silly peppers in my mouth and then I damn near perished right there at the bar. I can’t handle hot food at all, so I can’t begin to explain why I thought that it was a good idea, but it happened and then the only thing that kept me from crying in public was sitting there with ice in my mouth like some sort of dummy. Lesson learned.
Later on we got gussied up and went to a really cool restaurant called The Library for dinner. I’m beginning to notice a theme here and I’m wondering if you will too – the restaurant was housed in a building that used to be…the home of a judge (I bet you thought I was going to say “a library,” didn’t you?). Re-purposing old buildings seems to be the name of the game in Portsmouth and I loved it. The building was beautiful and it seemed to have retained a lot of the architectural detail from its previous role as a ridiculous mansion. Luckily I had recovered from that dastardly pepper because dinner was delicious.
To keep this post from getting even bigger than it already is, I’ll sum up Saturday in pictures. The takeaway message from these pictures is that I love historic homes and I love cool doors even more.
Portsmouth is a very pretty town and it certainly didn’t help to quell my dreams of someday owning an historic home.
If you’re wondering where Brody was during our adventures in New Hampshire, he was spending some quality time with my mom. They had a great time together, but we were all very happy to be reunited when we got home.
I hope that this picture conveys not only our mutual glee, but also that B is sitting like a person – and not a very modest person, at that.
Man, the fun we have.