Blog : Hit the (Eco-Friendly) Decks

By Craig | May 7, 2015 | in

By Kristyn Lak Miller

A sure sign that Old Man Winter has finally abandoned the seacoast is when the outdoor decks and al fresco patios of local restaurants reopen for the season. To many, the sight of restaurant-goers enjoying an outdoor meal is a delicious sign that summer is not far away. In celebration of outdoor dining and drinking, the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce is hosting its annual Hit the Decks event on May 8.

“There’s nothing quite like enjoying dinner and drinks while being caught up in a view that’s purely Portsmouth,” says John Golumb, co-owner of Poco’s Bow Street Cantina and Two Ceres Street. Poco’s outdoor deck in downtown Portsmouth faces the Piscataqua River, and offers guests a right-there view of many local landmarks, from the fleet of tugboats to area bridges.

Poco’s downstairs lounge, Two Ceres Street, throws open its river-facing NanaWall window in season, so its guests can also savor the delights of calm breezes and toast-worthy views.

Close by, The Portsmouth Brewery’s outdoor beer garden has an intimate atmosphere, surrounded by tall brick walls and rooftops, and open to the sky above, with lantern-lit tables and hanging white lights for nocturnal ambiance. “For many, discovering our beer garden is like being let in on a truly terrific secret,” says JT Thompson, official Minister of Propaganda for The Portsmouth Brewery and Smuttynose Brewery. “It’s a really special place to spend some time.”

Additionally, on Towle Farm Road in nearby Hampton, Smuttynose’s new farmhouse restaurant, Hayseed, plans on opening a seasonal beer garden—under a canopy of trees—with seating for 35 guests. “We’re set on a 14-acre farm and, with the beer garden, we want to make guests feel as if they’re dining in a natural wooden grove, with a fire pit and water feature to underscore the connection with nature,” says Thompson.

A picturesque beer garden can also be found at Redhook Brewery in Newington. The venue can seat up to 120 people, or up to 7,500 when the surrounding lawn is opened up for an event like Hook Fest, the brewery's annual outdoor music festival. For those who aren’t in the mood to relax in the sunshine, or moonlight, the space temps guests with various lawn games like Baggo. “We’re a one-of-a-kind deck here on the seacoast,” says Redhook Brewery Pub General Manager, Nick Wright. “We’re family-friendly and there’s plenty of onsite parking.”

Of course, there are a score of spots away from the heart of the seacoast with al fresco dining options. One such spot is 900 Degrees Wood Fired Pizzeria in Manchester. Its 37-person deck charms guests with its historic mill setting. “900 Degrees is an idea born from a passion for high quality food, a belief in protecting the environment, and a mission to build a community,” says owner Priscilla Lane-Rondeau. “And those three elements come together beautifully on our deck.”

Outdoor dining relies on a rather synergetic relationship with Mother Nature, and every one of these restaurants has made a commitment to the environment—for instance, most compost and extensively recycle—while employing eco-efforts both in front of the house and in the kitchen. Poco’s Bow Street Cantina’s massive deck renovation project included more efficient windows and heating systems; Two Ceres’ floor is made from recycled plastic milk bottles; The Portsmouth Brewery uses potato-based biodegradable take-out boxes; Hayseed employs a condensing, gas-fired water heater to provide domestic hot water, operating at a thermal energy efficiency greater than 90 percent, and sourced wood for its tables and bar onsite during construction; Redhook Brewery uses CFL lighting throughout its facility; and 900 Degrees is committed to recycling, composting and using green cleaning products throughout the restaurant.

Each of these restaurants is a partner with the Green Alliance, a locally driven union passionate about bringing together environmentally-friendly businesses while also providing its members with discounts on green products and services. Green Alliance members enjoy a 10 percent discount on all food and beverage at Poco’s Bow Street Cantina, Two Ceres and 900 Degrees Wood Fired Pizzeria and a 10 percent discount on all food at The Portsmouth Brewery, Hayseed, and Redhook Brewery.

Green Alliance Members save 10% off their bill at 900 Degrees, Hayseed, The Portsmouth Brewery and Red Hook. Not a member? Join here!