Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gracie's Diner - Portsmouth, NH

Although I've blogged for over two years now, this is my virgin post on the "Nothing Could be Finer..." blog. Thanks to Mssrs. Scott Monty and CC Chapman for allowing me to jump in. As a big fan of diners, dives and greasy spoons, I'm hoping to add some value while learning a thing a two from the experts (Scott and CC).

For my first review, I'm tackling a new joint recommended to me by social media measurement guru, Katie Paine. The place of which I speak is Gracie's Diner, a new place in downtown Portsmouth, NH. I live just north of Boston so Portsmouth isn't "just down the street" but I happened to be heading up to Maine for the weekend with my family so I took the opportunity to give Gracie's a try.

I love Portsmouth (one of my favorite diners ever, Friendly Toast, is there) so I thought that it wouldn't hurt to have a back up plan for those days when the line at Friendly Toast exceeded an hour an a half -- a regular occurrence on weekends at FT. The good news is that I now have a backup plan. The bad news is that Friendly Toast is still my favorite place to eat in Portsmouth.

Here's the skinny based on my family's dining experience at Gracie's. I'm willing to give it a shot to make sure I'm providing a well-balanced portrait:

  • The waitstaff was good, efficient but a little harried while we were there. We ate at Gracie's on Friday morning before Labor Day and my guess is that either a) someone didn't show up for their shift or b) they weren't expecting as many people pre-Labor Day.
  • Nice atmosphere with tons of cool photos of 70's rockers like James Taylor, Tom Waits and David Bowie adorning the walls. The diner sits under the eve of the roof and has subsequently been closed in so it has somewhat of a "cottage" type feel to it.
  • Food was tasty. Probably a 3.5 on a scale of 1-5. We got:

    - a cheese and mushroom omelet (me) - good portion and cooked so that it wasn't dry. the toast it came with was white (waitress didn't ask me for bread choice) and home fries were not browned but still tasted good. They were made from red bliss potatoes so they were not your traditional run of the mill. I liked my choice.

    - pancakes were obviously home made and were light. The portion was good (more than my wife could eat) and the syrup came in a pitcher which was also appreciated. One minor knock is that the butter came in packages on the side (we had to ask for butter).

    - my daughter had two fried eggs over easy w/ bacon, white toast and home fries. All were very good but the bacon was not very crispy (English style). Not a huge deal.

    - my son has a fruit dish which was semi-fresh fruit in plain yogurt (apparently we didn't see the "yogurt" part so that kind of spoiled it for my son. The fruit was good but not great.

    NOTE: one of my biggest tests of a diner/dive is the coffee (particularly how good the wait staff is about refills). In this case, the coffee was very good but I never got offered a refill. I may have to chalk this up to point no. 1 which was the fact that I think Gracie's was a little understaffed.
All in all, we had a good experience. One other minor knock (and it really is minor) is that at the end of the meal, you have to go up to the counter to pay vs. the waitress dropping the check at your table. I'm not sure why this bugged me but it just seems like it's table stakes for any good greasy spoon.

So a big "thank you" to Katie Paine for turning me onto a good new breakfast place. Like I said, I'll definitely be back!

If you want to visit:
165 Deer Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801

*Photo courtesy SHIR HABERMAN PHOTO - taken from


Francine McKenna said...

My parents are fussy. Have to have coffee from the minute they sit down to the minute they leave. That's my numero uno criteria for a place when taking them out. And no check at the table? I hate having to walk back to table to leave the tip. Well done Dawg.

Adawg said...

Francine - you're parents and I would get along just fine! ;)

Aaron | @astrout


Looking forward to your next blog post.
-Diner History staff