Granite State of Mind, #90: Jumpin' Jay's Fish Cafe, Portsmouth
A counter-intuitive choice, perhaps, given that I'm not a seafood guy. Never have been. I'll eat a tuna sandwich, sure, but salmon? Shellfish? Not my milieu. An admission like that should probably disqualify me from ever seeking any kind of public office in coastal New Hampshire. So should using words like milieu, come to think of it.
Jumpin' Jay's makes the list for three reasons. First, from what I'm told by those with a much deeper appreciation for the art and artistry of grub from the ocean, it's absolutely top flight. Second, it's owned by Portsmouth restaurateur extraordinaire Jay McSharry, who also happens to be one of the good guys.
Third - and this admission is at least as embarrassing as the one with which I led off this posting - Jay's is where I sat down for drinks in summer 2003 with then-Senator John Edwards. He was in town looking to line up local support for his 2004 presidential campaign, and we had the first of some great conversations. Among other things, he was in the vanguard of those talking about poverty and income inequality at the national level, and his message emphasized the dignity of the American worker and the need to rebuild the middle class. Sure, the messenger turned out to be deeply flawed. But the message remains one I believe in now as much as I did then.