Lacklustre food but service saves the day

Stones, Fareham.
Stones, Fareham.
Kuti's of Wickham, Wickham Star Corner, Fareham Road, Wickham.

DISH DETECTIVE: If you are inclined to order your weight in food... ask for separate bowls

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Carol visits Stones, for an average omelette but fantastic service that still makes this cafe worth a visit.

Fareham’s West Street has a plethora of eating out choices, including a rather North American booth-type place reminiscent of another era.

Stones wears its looks very simply, just like the American ‘good old days’ when fashion didn’t reign over what they were trying to sell you.

The two outside seats were bagged on the very hot day I went last week but the cool interior was more pleasant and roomy.

Brown is Stones’ colour of choice – brown banquet tables, mocha brown prints of coffee beans on the walls – as well as beige flooring and wall paint. 1940’s wall lighting could be a retro signal but I suspect it’s coincidental.

A large counter offers every single type of carb imaginable – baguettes, packaged biscuits, cakes, croissants – and some fruit. Beyond is the open plan kitchen grill complete with a mega coffee machine of the hissing Italian sort.

Extremely smart waistcoated-waiters, possibly all Italian and oddly out of place in a day-only cafe restaurant, are remarkably efficient, polite and friendly.

The place is spotless and ,most unusually and very welcome, there is a complete lack of muzak. You don’t get that lucky in most other places,nor is there any TV screen. Stones is a haven for those signed up to the Noise Abatement Society.

The brown menu will not have you reaching for your dictionary or search engine for unusual dishes or ingredients, nor will it have you reaching too deeply in your wallet. It is the good, old High Street unimaginative menu with all-day breakfasts, omelettes, jacket potatoes, salads, grills, paninis, burgers, baguettes and sandwiches. To pep things up a bit they’ll toast the sandwiches and also offer hot baguettes.

Most dishes are around the £4.90 mark, a mixed grill – burger, egg, sausage, bacon, tomato, mushroom, peas and chips – is the most expensive at £6.90 bar the scampi with chips at £7.25. A veggie burger can be had for £3.50 and there’s a children’s menu with chicken nuggets, chips and other unhealthy choices.

Milkshakes at £2.45 – banana, strawberry, chocolate – join the cold and hot drinks with a cappuccino costing £2.20.

I ordered a mushroom omelette (£5.40) and a salad. The omelette bore no resemblance to a real one. It had been cooked in a small, round pan – fine, the right implement – but hadn’t been folded over with the filling inside. Here, the mushrooms lay on the top making it more of a frittata.

The dish was edible, though rather solid, and needed seasoning. The salad was acceptable with tomatoes, cucumber, shredded lettuce and a mass of coleslaw.

Come here for an ice cream sundae with strawberry or chocolate sauce or choose from carrot cake, Victoria sponge or chocolate fudge cake, apple pie or a Danish from £1.75.

The carrot cake, more brown and thickly sliced, was layered and smothered in icing. Coming in at the top of the sugar Richter scale, this was a mountain too far for this muted sweet eater and left a lingering synthetic taste, but plenty would love this.

Stones, despite the rather disappointing food, is a delightful spot for a daytime visit. The staff are the stars of the show and for that reason alone Stones is worthy popping into for at least a coffee.

My bill came to just more than £10.

ESSENTIALS

Stones, 101 West Street, Fareham,

PO16 OAB

Call: 01329 233212.

FOOD 3/5

SERVICE 5/5

ATMOSPHERE 4/5

Open: Mon-Sat 8am – 5pm.

Disabled access: excellent – spacious inside.

How to get there: take the M27 to Fareham and park in a car park or on a side street. West Street is the main street and Stones is on the right past the Fareham Shopping Centre heading west.