Roundabout Diner and Lounge, Portsmouth Traffic Circle, Portsmouth N.H.

Fresh Local Fare and a Full Bar

There used to be a Howard Johnson's on the traffic circle, long ago. It was replaced by a rather ramshackle cafe, which, in turn, about a year ago was replaced by this nifty diner. It looks like a diner from the outside, and the basic layout is very much like a '50s diner, though the decor has a clever map theme. Unlike most diners, the Roundabout Diner and Lounge has a full bar and an extensive menu—and, more unusually still, the Roundabout uses fresh local ingredients whenever possible, including serving Smuttynose beer on tap. The Lounge is in a room off to the side, but you can still order from the complete Diner menu.

Since we were on our way to Maine for the best lobster roll in Maine, we had decided to try the Roundabout's version.The Roudabout's lobster roll is made with hunks of lobster, a little mayo, and served with lettuce and tomato on a buttered, grilled brioche bun. Now, the lettuce and tomato are not standard trappings for a traditional lobster roll, and I will confess that after I tried a bite with them, I removed both. The lobster was good, though I think it was frozen. It would have been easier to eat if the pieces had been slightly smaller, but the brioche bun was fabulous. The brioche bun is a lovely way to cradle the lobster. The lobster roll is accompanied by round waffle "chip" style fries; they were perfectly cooked.

We also had dessert; slices of two fresh, home-made pies, a fabulous key lime, and a an apple pie. Both were generous portions, and had clearly been made that day. The coffee, the product of Tea Portsmouth Tea Company, a local small batch coffe roaster and tea purveyor, was excellent, and refilled with fresh hot coffee, with alacrity. I note that there's a bakery case in the front, near the counter, and I saw customers buying pies to take home. They also offer traditional fountain beverages, including floats, milk shakes, and sundaes.

While I still favor the Keag Lobster Roll, I'd be overjoyed to have it served on the brioche bun of the Roundabout, and their lobster roll is a close contender for my favor. I'll definitely stop by again, and look forward to trying their breakfast menu. The Roundabout Diner and Lounge has a Website, complete with menus, and their Facebook page here. I note that the Roundabout also has an extensive profile on Urban Spoon and on Yelp.