Moxy, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

“Moxy; Self-possessed confidence. An attitude of fearlessness in everyday circumstances.”
Moxy has striking good looks and a formula — small portions and variety — that appeals to many diners these days. APPEARANCES count in food, but great cooking is sometimes hard to spot at first glance.

Before opening Moxy in March, Matt Louis spent years in Thomas Keller’s kingdom, first at the French Laundry and most recently at Per Se. Like his old boss, Louis has a red-blooded, generous approach to seasonal and sustainable cooking. The menu shows Louis’s penchant for teasing a few flavors into a number of different forms and textures. First glance offers confusion amongst creativity but don’t let this confusion fool you; it is all part of Louis’s master plan.

Along with a commitment to seasonality and sustainability the restaurant incorporates a heavy focus on the tradition and history of the area. The lobster is caught by local fisherman; humanely raised, grass-fed cows are raised nearby and the seasonal vegetables are all provided by local farmers.

Selections range from standard Spanish tapas aka Regional Pinchos to innovative American tapas offerings to a few American Bocadillos (small sandwiches) like Maine Red Hot Dogs. The presentation of the food is as sleek and unassuming as the décor.

An array of shared plates can make a very satisfying meal, but not all are equally shareable. Take the orange glazed ribs. The portion of three meaty, tender ribs in a tasty glaze is hard to divide between two or four people. Also, you’ll want more than one for yourself.
Beef Short Rib Marmalade, another hit, was hard to share, next time I will keep this one to myself.

106 Penhallow St., Portsmouth, NH, 603-319-8178, http://www.moxyrestaurant.com/