Biking to and from Providence on the East Bay Bike Path brought all the happy scenes of the first truly warm day of spring: new parents pushing strollers, kids fishing and oblivious 20-somethings almost getting run over for that perfect selfie in front of Pomham Rocks Lighthouse. A meal with a view would cap off the day beautifully, so not unlike a superhero I made a quick costume change from my bike gear and snaked around the north end of Portsmouth to 15 Point Road.
This is clam shack country, where the restaurants will have anchors, ship wheels and lobsters getting up to comic mischief. You won’t find any of this at 15 Point Road, though, at the end of the Point Road strip.
15 Point Road has a clean and minimally decorated vaulted main dining room, with a subtle nod to ship lanterns on the tables and hanging from the ceiling; think Restoration Hardware, and not a man on a pier grumbling about fishery management. If you really need some reminder that you’re near the water, try looking out any one of a few dozen windows. With glass on three sides and a mirror on the other, every seat has some nice views.
You aren’t crammed in anywhere and the spacious booths are appropriately smart-casual. With some pretty low background music, even with a full house there was just a nice quiet buzz. The bar – a custom job by a Bristol craftsman – is in a separate room in the restaurant as well, so you can choose how lively you want the atmosphere to be. The service was genuinely warm and attentive.
There is some beer on draught and a few bottles, but befitting a coastal location, this place is more about the wine and cocktails. Though there were a couple dozen of both reds and whites, I was carried away by the New England heat wave. Sixty degrees in April is t-shirt weather and also high time for a Mojito ($9). It was more refreshing than powerful, but well muddled and mixed.
The dinner menu is Surf and Turf, with a mix of Italian-American and New England flavors. We started by splitting Steamed Mussels ($11), which were in a simple and quite garlicky broth, which we happily polished off. A few julienned carrots gave a bit of texture, but otherwise this was textbook. I’m not sure what to wordsmith for garden salad, so instead I will tell you this place has good oil and vinegar, which if you’ve been biking for a couple hours becomes half of a meal in itself as that bread kept coming.
After we got our crouton on, came the mains. I went straight up the middle with Scallops Block Island ($22), served over angel hair with a light marinara. The sauce was great, the pasta al dente and the scallops were not overcooked. My wife was a bit more imaginative, trying the Local Sole “en brick” ($23). This was American Sole covered on one side with fried brick pastry, served in a butternut sabayon sauce and julienned vegetables. This is a sauce for a sweeter tooth than mine, but I really liked the contrasts of this dish. On the bottom you have the delicacy of a sautéed fish and a lighter flavor, and on the top the crisp pastry gives you some texture as well as more richness.
To finish, there was no deliberation. We had three little Cinnamon Beignets ($6) with a caramel sauce, iced and whipped cream. We’ve all forsaken our working class roots when it’s “beignet s’il vous plait,” and not “I’ll take the donuts.” Strikingly donut-shaped, these beignets were perfect. I was raised by proper English parents who for a time made me eat pizza with a knife and fork, but despite the plating, my wife knows a finger food when she sees one.
“It’s like a little lunch” the waitress cheerfully remarked as she produced two bags of leftovers for the table next to us. We didn’t have any leftovers, but I’m sure our compatriots will surely enjoy theirs the next day, I thought as we marveled at a stunning sunset over the Mount Hope Bridge on the way home. If gorgeous views with local seafood are up your alley, stop by on on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, for a bargain: Twenty-four dollars gets you an entrée, dessert and a choice of wine or beer.
15 Point Road, Portsmouth