Donny’s, on Stubbington Green, has a distinctive Marmite style. You either love it or query why owners decided on choosing kitsch as their décor of choice.
The café is awash with chandeliers – eight of them in the small square space, as well as ribbons, embroidered cushions, throws, heart-framed pictures, china, tins and aprons.
Signage for sale is equally cute: Scatter Kindness; Make Good Things Happen; Peace, Love, Relax, Happy Dream; Make Tea, Not War.
In case you can’t get enough of this type of décor, inspect the whimsical wooden sideboards brimming with similar items.
Sit at one of the white tables surrounded by white chairs with hearts cut out of the back rests, or at the long blue chaise longue-type sofa surrounded by wordy cushions opposite the bar (over which are painted the words Good Food, Good Friends, Good Times).
Seating outside overlooks the Green and its shops and is equally decorative, a lot of elaborate metal fashioned into furniture.
With all of this décor, can I concentrate on the menu which introduces itself as ‘food lovingly prepared and freshly made when ordering, so please relax and enjoy the Donny’s experience….’?
I find it tricky to be told to relax when surrounded by all this paraphernalia. Concentrate now!
There’s pâté with toast; cheese on toast; prawn cocktail; the Big Butty jammed full of chips or fish fingers; soup; sandwiches including tuna mayo, BLT, chicken mayo and smoked salmon with cream cheese. They’re joined by Donny’s Big Baguettes, choices including ones ‘loaded with spiced meatballs’ or ‘loaded with roast pork and apple sauce or chicken breast and stuffing’.
There are also hot potatoes with Heinz beans, cheese and coleslaw or prawn or tuna mayo as well as a warm bacon and chicken salad or large prawn cocktail.
The specials board offers chilli con carne or lasagne and prices generally run from £4.99 to £8.99, but can escalate to a whopping £39.99 for ‘the Rolls Royce of high teas’ for two including a bottle of Prosecco.
Winter Tipples offer six hot, four cold and four cheeky beverages and the bar is stocked with wine and other drinks.
A warm bacon and chicken salad didn’t show the ‘lovingly prepared’ side of the kitchen. It was a dull affair of lukewarm bacon.
The chicken wasn’t good either. Not only was it not warm, but it was a cheap, watery fowl. I took one bite and left it.
The salad was equally disappointing, elderly lettuce mixed with cheap, dull tomato, chopped celery, peppers, onion and poor quality coleslaw.
No dressing, either homemade or bottled, was offered. I left most of the dish.
The waitresses, however charming and friendly they were, didn’t ask me if there was anything I didn’t like about it.
Donny’s seems to specialise in high teas, scones, toasted tea cakes and cakes including carrot, chocolate and lemon drizzle – my choice.
I saw a glimmer of why Donny’s scores highly with the onliners, the cake proving that this may be a place to reckon with if you have a sweet tooth.
It was lovely, moist, lemony and triple-layered and was the highlight of my visit.
My bill came to just over £13.
Donny’s, Stubbington Green, Stubbington, Fareham PO14 2JY. 01329 662227. Open 9am–4.30pm Mon-Sat.
Disabled access: Fine
How to get there: Follow the signs to Fareham then Stubbington on the A27 after M27 jct 11. Stubbington Green is off the B3334 on the right, Donny’s is at the far end of the Green. Park in pay car park at rear of shops.
Ratings (maximum *****)