First, let’s admire the name, it’s a memorable one.
The Wave Maiden, in case Norse mythology is not your specialist subject, is one of nine daughters of Aegir, the undersea brewer of the gods who helps their father brew the beer the gods favour.
Ali and Paul Lees – she’s a New Yorker, he’s an ex-Portsmouth sailor – own and run this Southsea microbrewery bar offering 50 craft beers, ales and ciders including four on draught.
Ali exudes enough energy and community commitment to local beers and produce for the whole of Southsea. The menu is awash with locality. Beers and ales also stray farther afield to France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany and, of course, the USA where Ali swears craft beers started.
The style is New York, but not that of gleaming glass and cool lines. No, Ali favours the past – smart, heavy furniture, mirrors encased in ornate wood within the deep Prussian blue interior. There’s a smoky, hideaway feel to the place.
The bar is the natural hub with its chalkboard list of beers (£4-£5). They include Staggeringly Good, Guildhall’s own-brewed IPA, says Ali who presided with charm and professionalism over the bar when I visited. Her knowledge of all produce is prodigious. The IPA was refreshingly hoppy and fashionably unfiltered cloudy.
The small menu is a mix of trad New York and local cheese and meat with Loosehanger cheeses; Twineham Grange’s hard cheese; Nut Knowle St George and a cheeseboard and beer sampler of craft beers with Hampshire and Sussex artisanal cheeses.
For something hot there’s Mom’s Chilli with Lyburn Gold (Loosehanger) with artisanal bread; That Fondue You Do So Well or homemade macaroni cheese, plus The Drunken Pig, slow-cooked pork shoulder with brown ale topped with warmed Sussex Charmer on grilled bloomer bread. Many are sharers and start at £1.50 running to £13.50 for the cheeseboard and beer sampler.
There’s a hot Reuben’s Sandwich too with dill pickle and coleslaw, that typical pastrami deli dish I relished at Katz’s, NY’s rudest deli in town a few years back. Good, large Jewish pickled gherkins are a must. Here, it’s a fine variation on the theme with peppery pastrami and excellent coleslaw, the large filling slapped between grilled-with-butter local bread.
Still hungry? Try the only dessert, a peanut butter cheesecake. This menu’s for those who don’t give a fig about a lettuce leaf.
It’s no myth that Wave Maiden has made its mark since opening last year and will continue to please.
It’s an exciting, characterful addition to Southsea’s more eclectic beer and food scene. My bill came to £11.45.
The Wave Maiden, 36 Osborne Road, Portsmouth PO5 3LT, (023) 9217 8878
Open from 3pm to 11pm, Tuesday to Thursday. 3pm to 12pm, Friday. 12pm to Midnight, Saturday. 12pm to 10pm, Sunday. But check as they will extend opening times this month.
Disabled access: fine.
How to get there: Osborne Road is parallel to Clarence Parade (A288) the bar-restaurant on the right going west to east. On-street parking or nearby carpark.