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My wife and I decided to have dinner at the Common Man during on of our roadtrip weekends to New Hampshire. We have enjoyed their location in Portsmouth so we decided to give this one a try.
We arrived at the restaurant a bit after 6pm and had no problem procuring a table. We had heard this place gets pretty busy for dinner; so we were happy not to wait. Our hostess sat us in the large dining area on the right of the restaurant past the bar. This place is pretty big with several seating areas and an upstairs. The decor is rustic with a New England vibe. We had a seat at a table for four and began to peruse the menu; in particular the specials.
I had decided to have the Portsmouth pie beforehand but when I saw the Salmon Special I changed my mind. Salmon with Strawberry salsa just sounded to good to pass up. My wife decided she was in the mood for beef and chose the special sirloin in a wild mushroom sauce. We decided to split an appetizer of their steamed mussels in wine and cream sauce to start. As for drinks; my wife went for their White Wine Sangria and I decided to try their own brand of Root Beer. A bread basket was placed on the table with sourdough bread, a special cheese bread and butter.
Our waitress informed us that upstairs and on the main floor was a section with complimentary cheese, crackers and assorted dips. Liz decided to check out the selection upstairs. She returned with a plate of White Vermont Chedder, buttery crackers along with a horseradish dip and a chive sourcream spread. This was excellent; especially the horseradish dip.
Our drinks arrived shortly and I loved my Root Beer; totally hit the spot. Liz liked her Sangria and was surprised by the large glass. The table had assorted crayons so we decided to be silly and draw some fun pictures on the brown paper tablecloth as we waited for our food. In the middle of our drawing spree our mussels arrived steaming hot. The portion was a perfect size for two with two chunks of garlic bread on top. I have to say, these were the best mussels I have had anywhere hands down. We used all the sourdough bread in the basket to dip up the delicious sauce on the bottom of the bowl.
Now to the main courses. This was a dissapointment. My salmon was grilled and had a burnt taste to it. The strawberry salsa was just pieces of strawberry with herbs piled ontop of the fish. I was not happy. My wife fared even worse with her choice. Her meat and the sauce had zero flavor. I don't think they seasoned the meat at all. Her veggies were overcooked and limp. Her wild rice was clumpy. Not a good main course.
Despite the bad entrees we decided to try dessert. Fortunately this redeemed the restaurant in my eyes. I'll blame the bad entrees on poor choice on our part. I chose the Strawberry Shortcake while my wife chose the apple tart. I loved the Shortcake. It is the traditional variety made with a biscuit and not cake. Loads of strawberries and whipped cream were in between the biscuit. Yum, this was good. My wife's tart was excellent; I loved the bites I stole. The crust was flaky, the apples were crisp and the caramel sauce was so good.
Despite the bad entrees; I will give this place another shot when we are in the area. The food we liked was excellent and we loved the attentive service.
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