FOOD REVIEW: Friendly Phil’s, Port Solent

Friendly Phil's
Friendly Phil's

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We’re back at Port Solent, drawn in by the free parking, sunshine and marina location. Only this time, it’s for a casual lunch date with Dish Detective’s mum.

Our usual haunt the Harvester (always a good family choice) is closed for a major refurbishment, so we’re forced into looking at the other restaurants.

That’s okay though as at Port Solent there’s every kind of restaurant you could ever want to eat in.

We opt for the snazzy-looking new diner that’s opened up in place of Dean’s Diner. It’s owned by the Richoux Group, which also recently opened the restaurant Richoux at Port Solent.

In fact, so was Dean’s Diner, but the group is looking to rebrand and refresh its American diner restaurants, so has set about a refurbishment programme across its estate.

Whiteley’s Dean’s Diner is also in line for the same treatment later this year.

We decide to check out Phil and find out just how friendly he really is.

It looks like we’re not the only ones thrown by Harvester’s temporary closure and the place is packed, mainly with families. Luckily this means there’s one last table for two and we’re seated quickly by a friendly waitress.

The decor is on trend, exposed brick walls and American posters, with fixed booths down one side and a large bar on the other.

It’s suitably retro American, with juke box hits adding to the atmosphere, without being too gaudy.

Gone are Dean’s bright red and white chairs and tiled floors. Phil seems to be more subtle and he’s gone for burgundy leather and low-level lighting.

Word of warning – the restaurant was quite loud, the music was up high and the surrounding families had upped their volume to be heard over it, so Saturday lunchtimes here are not a place to go if you want to relax or discuss anything important.

We’re not here to unwind.

Mum is wanting something lighter to eat, so orders two scrambled eggs with toasted muffin (£4.95) from the breakfast menu. I, being a burger connoisseur, can’t resist checking out the new offering, so go for a burger with cheddar cheese – other options are blue or halloumi – which comes served with grilled onions, shredded lettuce, beef tomato, mayo, dill pickle and burger sauce in a soft bun. It costs £7.50 with one regular side for £1.95 or two for £3.50. I opt for chips and sweetcorn.

Mum has a pot of tea (£1.95) while I go for a bottomless diet Coke (£2.75).

The food arrives in good time, considering how busy they are, and it’s fresh.

The burger is juicy and tasty, the chips perfectly-cooked and the sweetcorn deliciously covered in butter.

Mum’s eggs are spot on too, although butter had to be asked for from the waitress and when it arrived it was rock hard.

After eating every morsel of our main, it was on to the star attraction of any American diner – the puddings.

Mum opts for a pancake stack with maple syrup and whipped cream (£5.50) and I go for a chocolate milkshake (£4.50).

Both items vanish within moments of arriving – they are delicious.

Dish Detective is a great fan of American diners and with the exceptional Five Guys proving ever-popular and opening more restaurants across the country, it was clear that Dean’s Diner had become a bit old hat.

Friendly Phil’s doesn’t quite top Five Guys for food, but it does come a good second. And it’s more of a restaurant that you can sit in for family meal out.

A visit to Friendly Phil’s would be a great addition to any family day out at Port Solent.

(023) 9238 1765

Food 4

Value 4

Ambience 4

Child-friendly 5

(Ratings out of 5)