Carol Godsmark reviews: TK snax, Gosport

TK snax, Gosport.

TK snax, Gosport.

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TK snax opened its tiny doors by Gosport’s ferry terminal in 2011, the café one of a few businesses alongside the town’s scruffy bus station.

Frankly, not many would be swayed to look for it, the complex needing a wash and brush-up. The café itself is unprepossessing, the many old food photography stickers on the window with its burritos, tamales and other Mexican and South American food not raising confidence levels.

But the music of Nina Simone and other greats are the siren-call for this diner looking for a quick bite in common with most of its clientele on a sweltering day.

The owner sits behind the counter reading a paper, the feel of a sleepy Mexican town all-pervading. ‘Hello, you still serving?’ He nods and points to brightly-coloured flyers peppering the walls. The menu is based on the owner’s Belize-born wife’s cooking and all points surrounding the small Central American country next to Mexico.

Belize – you remember Belize – that one-time British colony favoured for army jungle training. Belizian dishes join Cuban sandwiches; Jamaican patties; spiced Mexican chips; jerk pork plantain; Caribbean pulled pork and huevos rancheros. The extensive menu, also on the wall, shows the owners’ sense of humour with a Reaper burrito, also billed as ‘Death would be better.’ I decide to chance it with a pulled pork burrito. Prices? Reasonable; from £3.50 to £7.50, most in the £4.50 range.

I sit at one of a handful of tables after talking to the owner who says people come from all over Britain to eat his wife’s cooking, the only place in the UK to buy Belizian dishes and their spices. The chattering kitchen assembles the wrap in no time flat.

No one will leave the café feeling peckish. The large burrito with a smear of rust-coloured sauce is joined by nachos stuck together with cheese and an unyielding sour cream which resembles split whipped cream.

The promised beans are scarce, rice vying for space in the 12in tortilla wrap with a mass of lukewarm pulled pork. I extract the meat, leaving the rice, the soft meat needing, surprisingly, more spice oomph to make it less British, more Belizian. I expected a bit of a punch bar the over-strong sauce on its top which was scraped off because it was overpowering. But blandness remained. The sour cream tasted of air, the cheese on the nachos equally tasteless. But the pulled pork, if taken out of context, was fine. I wasn’t asked how spicy I’d like the food so assume this is standard.

A few sweet items – chocolate cake, figgy-looking slices, bananas – could have followed but I call it a day, wishing to sample the real thing in Belize rather than Gosport.

Maybe the goat curry would have been a better bet or the Crazy Carolina Chilli Burger with its promise of pain, ‘currently the hottest in the world.’ On second thoughts, I’ll pass unless galloping hunger, coinciding with the ferry, kicks in. But I’m aware the place has its fans. Sadly I’m not one. But good luck to TK in this world of corporate eateries over independents. My bill came to just less than £6 for the burrito and a bottle of water.

ESSENTIALS

TK snax, Unit 1, Gosport Bus Station, South Street, Gosport. PO12 1EP (023) 9217 0208.

6.30am–5 pm. 4pm Saturdays.

Food: **

Service: ***

Atmosphere: ***

Disabled access: OK, no loos.

How to get there: either by ferry from Portsmouth or by car. A27, follow signs for Gosport, café by ferry and bus station. Public car park on South Street, three minutes’ walk away.

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