Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ye Olde Lantern Restaurant

by Ben Thurman

Web Editor

The restaurant and tavern Ye Olde Lantern has a long and detailed history. The building itself was built back during the Civil War and a variety of businesses have called the old brick structure home since then. As I arrive, driving through winding roads into Portsmouth, none of that matters. A restaurant’s history can only serve as an interesting side dish to the delectable main course of delicious food. If the meals don’t stand the test of taste, then it might as well have opened yesterday.

The interior of the building is a bit of a dichotomy. In the front, elegant glass windows overlook the street. The tables are like those you’d see at a fancy restaurant you’d take your date out to, if you had the money. Toward the back the décor changes into the bright reds of a sports bar dedicated to the Buckeyes. Memorabilia bedecked the walls and the restroom doors were painted into bright murals of sports figures in action.

The walls were eclectically decorated with nods to the antiquity of the building. Old license plates, antiques and a curious bust of a sea captain were scattered about the place. I took my seat in a leather booth towards the back and prepared to feast.

The menu was a little pricey. Not too bad, but low double digits for the main entrees. Being the self-titled sultan of slurp, I was disappointed to find they had no soup options. The menu was small, but diverse. Traditional steaks and salads rubbed shoulders with liver and egg rolls. I ordered some Cajun wings for an appetizer and fettuccine alfredo for the main course. The wings were excellent. Large and juicy with just enough heat to tickle your nose hairs, but not enough to broil your tongue, ruining the taste buds for any food to come.

The salad I didn’t know was coming came next. The greens were nothing special; your standard iceberg lettuce, carrot and cabbage affair. But the house dressing was unusually good, a sweet and sour syrup that made a plain salad something to remember. The friendly waitress delivered diet pepsi after diet pepsi, which I guzzled eagerly.

When the main course arrived, I understood the reason for the high price. Served in a fun blue edged bowl and dusted with paprika, it was a colossal pile of pasta. The bowl itself was deep, so deep I realized the noodles reaching for the ceiling were only the tip of the Italian iceberg I was about to devour. Minutes later it had me at its mercy. My belly was bursting and I’d barely made a dent. When next I saw the waitress, I surrendered and got a box.

I didn’t plan on having dessert, full to combusting as I was, but the lemon silk pie sounded too intriguing to pass up. Delighted, I found it was the best part of an already impressive meal. Light as air, it contained a slight tart punch which balanced out the sweetness of the graham cracker crust. When life gives you lemons, apparently make a pie, cliché’s be darned.

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