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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Granite State of Mind, #83: Dinnerhorn & Bratskellar Pub, Portsmouth

The Brat

The Sagamore Creek springs from the earth behind Peverly Hill and Banfield Roads in Portsmouth, and wends its way east past the Mirona Road commercial development, under Lafayette Road and Route 1A to join the greater Piscataqua River and later the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way it flows past (and sometimes through the parking lot of) the Dinnerhorn & Bratskellar Restaurant. A seacoast fixture since the Kamakas family opened it as a drive-in burger and fried seafood joint in 1960, it's really two restaurants. The Dinnerhorn is the more brightly-lit and buttoned-up sibling, catering to an older crowd with a wide-ranging menu. Their turkey club sandwich was a staple when Ben Wheeler and I would meet there for lunch during our Citizens Bank days.

Through a door in the back wall of the Dinnerhorn lies the more casual, somewhat saltier younger brother, the Bratskellar Pub (or, to locals, simply "The Brat"). Wood-paneled, cozier, more down-to-earth, the Brat is a den of beer and excellent pizza, and I've enjoyed long lunches there with Ben or Jared Avery or Lionel Ingram; many a RYLA reflection was carried out in those rugged booths.

The parking lot behind the place is barely higher than the swelling Sagamore, and sometimes the water rises enough to swallow it whole. When it snows and the creek ices over, it can sometimes be difficult to tell where the lot ends and the river begins. There's a story, likely apocryphal, from my father's days on the Portsmouth Police Department that includes him leaving his cruiser in the lot to respond to a call in the bar and coming back out to find only a hole in the ice. Given Albert Pace's storytelling chops, I've never known whether the story is true or not. And it doesn't really matter - it's a good story, and I'm keeping it either way.

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