The Golden Egg, open since 1983, is a Portsmouth institution. Owners Debbie and Tom Gosselin have been flipping pancakes and eggs from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., 361 days a year, for over three decades.
“We always said we’d do this until we decided what we really wanted to do with our lives,” says Debbie Gosselin with a chuckle, but their immediate and continued success kept them too busy to look elsewhere.
Most of the friendly waitresses have been with the restaurant for 20 years or more, and loyal customers have seen them through many hardships, most recently, the challenging close and reconstruction of the Sagamore Bridge. Even without the bridge, they still managed to win two 2014 Best of Taste awards, for Best Breakfast and Best Inexpensive Eats: Breakfast.
However, as their motto says, they offer “more than just a couple of good eggs.” The lunch menu, like breakfast, is chock full of options. And, you can order off either menu at any time—an almost overwhelming option for poor decision-makers. Start with a cup or bowl of their rotating Soup du Jour, Hearty Beef Chili, or New England Clam Chowder.
Add to this a Spinach Salad, with strawberries or pears (depending on the season), with addictive house-made candied pecans and Vidalia onion vinaigrette. Or, try a sandwich like the popular Grilled Reuben, made with house-braised corned beef brisket, sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing on rye or pumpernickel. Lobster lovers shouldn’t miss the hearty Lobster Club, a whopping quarter-pound of chunk lobster meat, bacon, lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese, and mayo layered between three slices of white toast.
Every Friday, Debbie gets fresh haddock from Seaport Fish for the delicately battered Fried Haddock Sandwich special, served on a bulky roll with tartar sauce and a side of her sweet and tangy green cabbage slaw. And, if you happen to dine on a Thursday, order their famous Turkey Dinner, a hungry-man platter laden with houseroasted dark and light meat turkey, mashed potatoes, cinnamon-scented squash puree, and chunky bread stuffing, blanketed with buttery turkey gravy.
On a Friday morning visit, we see the dining room transition from breakfast to lunch at 11:30. The cozy two- and four-top tables are still packed with the morning’s regulars, brunching on Quiche of the Day, assorted specialty Omelets, Eggs Benedict, and the popular Huevos Rancheros, a tortilla wrapped around two scrambled eggs, tomatoes, green chilies, jack cheese, salsa, and sour cream.
Perched on the ledge above the kitchen pass-through is a parade of trinkets, mostly gifts from regulars, tokens of thanks for the Gosselins’ years of great food, service, and reasonable prices. On the front counter below is a row of regal cake stands, displaying Debbie’s homemade desserts.
It’s hard to pass up a slice of Apple Cranberry Crumble, a streusel-topped pie chock full of chunky toothsome apples and sweet-tart cranberries, or the impressive Lemon Meringue Pie, with silky lemon filling, bruléed meringue, and a hazelnut shortbread cookie crust. If you’re just too full, pack up a side of Cardamom Sour Cream Coffee Cake, a moist, cardamominfused cake studded with cinnamonwalnut strudel, to warm up for breakfast tomorrow or for an afternoon snack.
What keeps them going after all this time? Memories, according to Debbie, of the people they’ve met over the years, including politicians like George W. Bush and Rudi Giuliani, and local families who have stuck around and become a part of their clan. Over time, “we’ve seen our staff and customers have babies and watched their kids grow up,” says Debbie. “We just love being here.”
The Golden Egg
960 Sagamore Ave