Less is definitely more for minimalist café

Javalicious, Portsmouth
Javalicious, Portsmouth

From broken bones to new beginnings

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Food critic Carol visited Javalicious in Portsmouth and was impressed by what she found.

Javalicious – a play on the Indonesian coffee bean – opened its rather large doors in January.

The independently-run coffee shop in Portsmouth’s North End exudes minimalism. The walls are green, as are the painted counters.

The furniture includes faux-leather sofas, round tables and high seating. A few coffee signs and quirky word boards add to the look. It is impeccable, spotless.

For a warm welcome, look no further than the owners and staff: remarkably enthusiastic, upbeat and friendly, they add a charming atmosphere to the coffee house.

Order at the counter and you may be given the low-down on the glorious Italian coffee machine hiding away in the recesses.

She is called Audrey, after Hepburn the class act, not Scarlett, I am told.

According to the delightful owner, all Italian coffee machines are named after operas. This dark red beauty deserves to be centre stage.

The breakfast menu is small, unlike the premises. Choose from porridge, a breakfast bloomer with fillings including black pudding, scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon, or an English Breakfast with five items and a hot drink.

If you visit at lunchtime, you can treat yourself to jacket potatoes, paninis or bloomers, all served with salad and crisps. Fillings include tuna and mayo and Coronation chicken.

There’s also a homemade soup of the day. That’s about it and all the better for it too.

A more abundant menu can be hugely unwieldy in a new business. Or any business for that matter, as seen in many chain restaurants.

The pea and ham soup zinged with freshness, a hint of sweetness from the peas marrying well with small, tender chunks of ham.

It was nigh-on perfect, served in the smartest of slate bowls with a matching board and accompanied by a hot roll.

And thank you owners for a real pat of butter, not a small block prissily wrapped in foil.

A Coronation chicken panini came with a salad, crisps and the offer of three different sauces. Mine was olive oil and sun-dried tomato which was a disappointment.

But the chicken filling itself was fine – generous with plenty of quality meat, a bargain at £3.

My only gripe with both panini and roll was that they needed more baking: a rather under-cooked, doughy encounter was the end result.

Most people would have moved on to the selection of cakes next – muffins, sweet treats and homemade gluten-free cakes from £2.20, all displayed under cloches.

But not for me. I went straight back to Audrey for one of Javalicious’ coffees, the beans roasted to the owners’ specifications.

‘And what kind of milk would you like?’

Now, that’s a first. Turns out it’s only cow’s milk, not goat, sheep, camel or yak. Full fat and semi-skimmed are the choices, but how thoughtful.

My full fat cappuccino was just the right size, not the tankards found in too many coffee joints.

This neck of the woods has many small restaurants and pubs, but few decent coffee houses. Javalicious has broken into new territory to offer some well thought-out and presented food and drink, coupled with sterling service.

They deserve to succeed and I suspect they will.

My bill came to just over £6 for a fine lunch.

ESSENTIALS

Javalicious

83 – 87 Kingston Road, Portsmouth,

PO2 7DX

(023) 9229 1248.

FOOD 4/5

SERVICE 4/5

ATMOSPHERE 4/5

Open 8.30am-3pm Mon-Sat.

Disabled access: Ample space for wheelchairs.

How to get there: Access via London Road southbound, Fratton Road northbound. Javalicious is opposite the bingo hall. Parking and wi-fi available.