It’s been 13 years since it opened, and now Surf Restaurant in Nashua has a brand new look, and a new sushi bar, too.
“It was time for a reset,” owner Michael Buckley said. “We were closed down a hair over two weeks.”
During the restaurant’s brief hiatus, many things were demolished and replaced, updated or added, like new floors and a fresh coat of paint on the walls. The restaurant reopened on May 20 with a new flow for its new bar and private dining room, which includes a monitor screen for presentations and curtains for privacy. The general layout has been kept the same, Buckley said, because diners love the social activity around the bar.
“We didn’t want to lose that,” he said. “Even the raw bar is more generous in its space. The raw bar used to be very confined, very claustrophobic.”
Now located next to the kitchen is an extended bar space to accommodate the raw bar and Buckley’s newest introduction to the Nashua Surf Restaurant: a sushi bar, which takes a cue from Surf Sushi Bar in Portsmouth. The Nashua Surf now has its own smaller version of the sushi bar with a limited menu of maki, nigiri and sashimi.
“The one in Portsmouth is its own entity,” Buckley said. “By doing that for the last couple years, we’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a great creative outlet for us; we were able to try something new. It gave our chefs the opportunity to try something new, and we felt that it went hand-in-hand with the seafood theme.”
With a contemporary seafood menu and casual upscale dining, Buckley said that sushi seemed like the most logical way to introduce something new to Nashua diners.
During the remodeling, four Nashua Surf chefs trained at Surf Sushi Bar in Portsmouth to learn the fundamental techniques of both traditional and American sushi. The menu now available in Nashua features 12 rolls and option for sashimi, which were selected from the most popular and most well-received dishes at the Portsmouth sushi bar.
“These are the dishes that we know people love,” Buckley said. “Already this week we’ve had several people say, ‘This is my first time eating sushi. I’ve always been afraid to try it and I love it.’”
In addition to raw and cooked fish maki, Buckley said there are also rolls that don’t feature any fish at all, like the mushroom maki, made by seasoning and roasting portobello mushrooms, then marinated, drained and sliced. The mushrooms are then warmed before rolling the maki with basil, scallion, cream cheese, and sweet potato, rolled “rice side out” and topped with yellow tomato jam (“which is got a little sweet, good tomato flavor, a little black pepper in there,” Buckley said) and fried shallots.
“You really end up having this really delicious vegetarian roll,” Buckley said. “That’s not what you would call typical traditional sushi, but it gives people a chance maybe who are afraid to take that plunge — a foot in the door — and then they try something else.”
In the next few weeks, Buckley and the chefs at Surf will introduce a new menu to go with the newly remodeled space. It will broaden small plate offerings and introduce healthy lifestyle options, along with the sushi bar offerings.
As seen in the June 5, 2014 issue of the Hippo.