Previous owners of 8 Kings Road in Southsea transformed this former bank into a restaurant of repute before realisation sank in about how hard it is to make money in this type of business.
New incumbents have swept in and made some changes, including adding the word Brasserie to the name to seem more user-friendly.
These days, neither Elton John nor Liberace, flamboyant showmen pianists both, would feel out of place as there's a shiny black grand piano and sky-high silver candelabra with purple candles.
Glass chandeliers cascade down from the two-storey-high ceiling, there are purple and silver painted walls and grandiose flower arrangements - yes, purple.
Naturally the Christmas trees are unnatural. Silver with blue-purple lights - all three of them.
Service matches the style very successfully, the Gok Wan lookalike waiter one of the best in the business in the entire area, a total natural. Nothing is too much trouble, wishes pre-empted rather than sought. So far so good.
Danny Carter, a chef with an excellent local track record, was recruited by the new owners to add a brasserie menu content. And he succeeds on paper. Come here for a two-course fixed price menu at lunch (a bargain at 9.50), a further lunch menu offering the likes of goat's cheese and beetroot tart; French onion soup; stilton and pear salad with a hazelnut dressing and hamburger or a pasta dish at reasonable prices.
Dinner sees an a la carte using some of the dishes from the lunch menu, which is handy if you want to sample his cooking at very low prices - as I did.
Crisp pork belly with tiger prawn and pea pure; ravioli of braised rabbit; spinach and Gruyere double baked souffl (5.95); venison loin with celeriac mash; beef fillet with sweet potato dauphinois (18.95); ballotine of chicken with a herb velout are some swop-time dishes. My choice was the pork belly, which needed more heat and crispness but it looked picture frame perfect in its ultra-swish rounded curved plate.
Sea bass with sweet potato dauphinois, spinach and a tomato provencale sauce, was less successful. The fish was oversalted and overcooked on the edges, the summery sauce rather out of kilter with the rest of the dish and the time of year. The dauphinois were a tad dull and lukewarm.
An extra - spinach in cream - perked me up no end as did a good glass of Sauvignon Blanc served in a towering show-off glass.
Choices of puds - an extra 5.95 - included sticky toffee pudding and chocolate fondant, my rhubarb and ginger tart with stem ginger ice cream a mixed bag. Pastry overload, but pleasant filling.
I'm perhaps giving Danny a hard time and his fans will no doubt flock to support him – as I do – and the new owners who have put their stamp on this fine building. My bill came to 22.50 less tip.
The Brasserie@8 Kings Road, Southsea PO5 3AH.
Tel: (023) 9285 1698
Open: Tues-Sat: Noon-3pm (Sun noon-5pm) and 7pm-9.30pm.
Disabled access: Loos downstairs, otherwise good space for wheelchairs.
How to get there: Kings Road is by the roundabout linking Hampshire Terrace, Museum Street and Kings Terrace. Parking on-street. Pastry overload, but pleasant filling.
I'm perhaps giving Danny a hard time and his fans will no doubt flock to support him - as I do - and the new owners who have put their stamp on this fine building. My bill came to 22.50 less tip.
Fans will flock here