I’d been wanting to try the Roundabout Diner, opened by the owners of The Muddy River, ever since they hoisted that cool, retro sign that can be seen from all corners of the Portsmouth Traffic Circle. It’s casual atmosphere seemed like someplace that my family could enjoy without feeling uptight about the inevitable mental breakdown that happens 9 times out of 10 (who told me they grow out of this?). Ok kids, let’s give this a whirl.
The atmosphere is quintessential 50’s diner with the checkered tile, chrome accents and red neon lights. We were greeted right away by a bright and friendly hostess who sat us at the large table near the front door which has a large map of NH on the wall (did she sit us there because she saw us ogling it??). In front of my children, she placed a large coloring mat and two crayons each (just yellow and green, odd). The décor is a little bit kitschy, but it’s fun and there’s plenty to occupy your eyes.
On The Menu
The Roundabout Diner serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and their menu for each meal is quite extensive. Their menu boasts “diner classics ramped up with a twist”, so in addition to the egg and pancake platters, they also serve up biscuits and gravy, granola and yogurt and breakfast sides like baked beans and cornbread. Adult breakfast items range between $5.99 and $10.99 with sides an additional $1.00-$3.00.
The children’s breakfast menu (which is served all day), offers some unusual options which sounded interesting to me (egg, ham and bacon scramble or burger slider and eggs), but my children promptly turned their nose up at anything except the chocolate chip pancakes. Each breakfast plate comes with one side (for breakfast it’s fruit or home fries), a beverage (in a take home plastic cup with lid) and a “play-pak”, which I’m assuming was the coloring mat and two crayons, for $4.95 (fyi: lunch/dinner plates are also $4.95).
My daughter is a toast fiend, so we asked the waiter to substitute toast instead of the fruit side for the kid’s meal of chocolate chip pancakes we ordered. I chose my usual, Eggs Benedict with no hollandaise sauce (ick), and Grandpa ordered a short stack of plain pancakes. The ingredients used at the Roundabout, so says the menu, are locally sourced as much as possible (the tea and coffee comes from the Portsmouth Tea Company and eggs are all local and cage-free). I like that.
When our food arrived, we immediately noticed some pretty significant errors. The chocolate chip pancakes were missing one very important ingredient…chocolate chips. The toast side we requested was MIA, and although there was no hollandaise sauce present (yay!), the yolks of my poached eggs were completely solid (boo). I always like to end my breakfast with a bite or two of my kids’ pancakes (dessert, anyone?), but I was so disappointed—these pancakes had absolutely no taste. None. Nada. So weird. There was. Literally. No. Flavor. Even the syrup was non-existant. *Note: I didn’t complain or send anything back, so I guess I denied our waiter the opportunity to fix the mistakes, but I’ve been a waitress before and sending food back is a personal no-no for me.
What’s The Damage
For two adult breakfasts and one children’s meal (my kid’s shared), our bill came to approximately $30, which is a little high for breakfast in my book. The experience was kind of fun and the kids were really intrigued with the 50’s décor. Although the service was fast and friendly, it did live up to the not-so-positive reviews I’d heard from other friends who had been before. The restaurant is still fairly new and surely trying to hit its stride, so maybe we’ll try it again someday. But for this visit, the Roundabout missed our exit.
The Bottom Line (based on a five-star rating):
Distraction Offering: ???¾ (lots of conversation starters with the 50’s décor; crayons, too)
Atmosphere: ???¾ (clean and fun, friendly staff)
Food: ??½ (our breakfast stunk, but if this is admissible in court, I have been here for lunch and it was good)
Affordability: ???½ (the kids’ meals are an affordable $4.95 all day, adult meals are pretty average)
Service: ??½ (super friendly, but missed the boat on pretty much everything else)
Roundabout Diner & Lounge
580 US Highway 1 Bypass, Portsmouth NH (603) 431-1440