Fin’s Café Bar, Southsea

Victor Ariat

Smooth sailing for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Portsmouth Guildhall

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Websites are generally acknowledged as being a remarkable tool to sell your business to a wide audience, But I’m continually amazed by the cavalier attitude of some businesses when it comes to the internet.

Websites, if not handled well, are a minefield. Some owners of restaurants or cafes consider times of opening or even their address non-essential information, others not upgrading their menus for ages. I recently came across a pub online with a menu from 2007!

Fin’s Café Bar, opened last year in Southsea, goes down a risky route with its lavish website language. ‘All our meals are lovingly handmade just for you!’ it trumpets. ‘Our food is made fresh to order and designed to remind you of the best of home-cooked classics. Grab a paper, kick back and enjoy our great food and company.’

These words and a few generic photos of food plucked from cyberspace are supposed to entice us. Well the staff looked a bit shell-shocked that a customer had walked in when I visited one day last week.

I’d phoned to check if they were open beforehand, but there were no menus to be found (a smudged one was plucked from the window) and I was the sole diner.

The menu was the same old dreary stuff found everywhere in Britain: all-day breakfast, cod and chips, baguettes, jackets, toasties and burgers.

Another menu lurking under a bar shelf revealed chicken curry with white rice, rump steak, mixed grill and chilli.

Very little was available, so I had cod and chips, a safe bet, and sat at one of the Spanish tapas bar-like tables and chairs. The offer of free newspapers was non-existent despite featuring on the website.

‘We choose the best locally-sourced ingredients’ says the website. Fresh fish in abundance is just around the corner at Viviers fish market, yet my breaded cod looked like it had come from a far-off factory, the chips ditto. However, the cod under the tough carapace was meaty and moist, the lemon a bonus. The peas tasted metallic.

No desserts were homemade. My choice was a cupcake as it had at least come from a local source. The cupcake and its swirling icing were dry and unpalatable.

I was still the only customer despite it being the busiest time of the day. The rap music blaring away may have been a turn-off.

‘It’s very quiet, all the restaurants say the same around here,’ I was told.

Well, next door’s cafe was heaving. I wonder why? When it’s a tough economic climate out there, you need to put your heart and soul into your business. My bill came to £11.50 for that fish, dried-up cupcake and a glass of wine.

Fin’s Café Bar, 106 Palmerston Road, Southsea PO5 3TP (023) 9236 2970

Open: Noon- 10.30pm, midnight on Fri-Sat. Closed Mon

Food: **

Service: **

Atmosphere: **

Disabled access: Okay

How to get there: Palmerston Road is off Clarence Parade in Southsea. Parking to be found on the Parade, a short walk away from Fin’s.