For Dish Detective, few things beat a seafood supper eaten on the shoreline – especially at sunset.
However, while the Brasserie Fish & Grill at Port Solent had all the right ingredients it seems to be missing the recipe for success.
My fellow diner compared the fare on offer to that of below-average pub grub but the bill – which came to more than £70 for the two of us – left a worse taste in our mouth than the anaemic chips served alongside one of the main dishes.
Apologies, I am skipping ahead somewhat. It wasn’t completely awful...
The setting, tucked slightly back from the main boardwalk, enjoys a quiet spot but with all of the views you’d want of the marina.
Meanwhile the stripped-back decor of bare tables and a feature ‘fish wall’ suggested the focus was on the food.
It’s quite something when you can arm wrestle your dinner
There was no real cause for alarm from the menu, and with all the favourites in place we decided to start with the platter of tempura prawns, calamari, white bait and scampi (£12.95).
Points were given for presentation, which included shells as sauce dishes, but then taken off again when it turned out the promised sweet chilli sauce had been swapped for ketchup.
Hoping for more luck with main course, my friend went for what has to be the headline dish – the lobster burger (£19.95).
Described as being made with fresh lobster, salmon, white fish, anchovies and pancetta ‘savoury grilled burger patty’ and served with a fresh crab-stuffed claw reaching out from the bun it certainly had a sense of theatre to it.
Or, as my friend put it, ‘it’s quite something when you could arm wrestle your dinner’.
Sadly, in contrast, my choice of a plaice ‘gratin’ (£13.95) looked more like an incontinent seagull had recently flown over.
Picked partly because I love gratins, but mostly due to the fact it was seemingly deemed deserving of being listed twice on the menu.
It was, without doubt, unlike any gratin I’ve ever eaten before and I don’t mean that in a good way.
It is hard, in my books, for cheese to be bad but it seemed like a duvet of the stuff had been simply pulled over an otherwise inoffensive fillet and new potatoes.
The only conclusion being that the ‘chef’ either hated fish or liked playing hide and seek with any possible flavour the plate may have had.
Thankfully the aforementioned ‘patty’ did deliver on taste, but even with the showmanship couldn’t justify the price tag it was given.
This was due to the accompaniments being deemed inedible.
The ‘homemade slaw’ suffered due to the heavy handed use of mayonnaise and the ‘chips’ had more bend to them than bite.
Ruled not worth the calories, we clung onto the hope that dessert could still save the day.
Having said that, I purposefully didn’t go with the chocolate souffle as, going on the kitchen’s creations so far, I genuinely feared for what horrible thing could be done to what I deem a heavenly dish.
Instead I played it safe with the ‘simply chocolate’ (£6.50). Boasting a chocolate brownie covered with chocolate fudge sauce, topped with dark chocolate mousse and chocolate shavings and served with ‘gelato’ and a token strawberry it was the comfort food I desperately needed.
Meanwhile, across the table, the vanilla panna cotta (£5.50) was doing it’s best to soothe things over too.
The sugar high helped to lift some of the sinking feeling but the sense of disappointment still prevailed.
It just seemed a shame that somewhere which had a lot going for it missed the mark.
Perhaps the target needs changing, I’d suggest lowering the prices and expectations or pulling both into line.