Restaurant 27, Southsea

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Restaurant 27 chef-owner Kevin Bingham has worked at Michelin-starred restaurants and spent 10 years at Southsea's Montparnasse as head chef and co-owner before opening his own place six weeks ago.

His goal now? To obtain that elusive, coveted Michelin star for himself.

The characterful square, high-ceilinged windowed room seating 30 is a minimalistic pleasure with varying shades of grey, green and white. The solid, handmade Indian tables and comfortable chairs lend a dash.

Service is surprisingly good for Portsmouth, waiters - and Kevin's wife Sophie - versed in the art of hospitality, their menu knowledge gratifying.

Forget a la carte here, a three-course menu is the Michelin way including canapes, a pre-starter, pre-dessert and additional cheese course must-haves to make the grade.

Kevin went down the molecular gastronomy route over-zealously at one stage, now thankfully reined in. However, traces do remain: for example, seared quail breast is twinned with black trompette porridge a la Heston Blumenthal.

Sous vide belly of pork is cooked for 30 hours. Aged fillet steak has a truffle and cottage pie, fried pout, a small local fish, goes with crab tortellini and a sweet pea and gorgonzola risotto has a sugar snap, rocket and Parmesan salad. Three courses are 35 and 25 (Suns).

Canapes included a duck breast sliver and warm cheesy pastry, the impressive focaccia and other breads naturally home-baked. Those sand-covered scallops were fabulously good, the 'sand' being brown shrimps. Pork belly, two glorious squares of perfectly sourced and cooked meat with crackling, was surrounded by cubes of apple jelly, shallots cooked in pork jus, apple and potato mash, carrots and baby fennel and a sensational gravy.

But on the wine front, a viognier and a rioja didn't quite sing from the same gastronomic hymn sheet.

There is a fine wine list to choose from though.

Desserts have a clever Christmas twist with chocolate and sherry cake with a minced pie foam, roasted pear with a pannacotta crumble. Others include chocolate banana mousse or marmalade bread and butter pudding with peanut brittle, the latter showing off the kitchen's prowess, a little less killer icing sugar welcomed. Truffles, including neoclassical salt ones, are part of the coffee or tea deal.

Well, does 27 sing on all levels? Enough to get an elusive star? Certainly enough to get a five across the board from me, the portions and prices just right, the small menu showing off Kevin's undoubted skills now that he's allowed himself to fly in his new first-rate premises.

No doubt that tyre man is hot on my heels. My bill was 36 including two glasses of wine but not a tip. Without doubt, the best deal in town.

Restaurant 27, 27A South Parade, Southsea PO5 2JF. (023) 9287 6272 or

Open: Wed-Sat 7pm-9.30pm and Sunday lunch noon-2.30 pm

Food: *****

Service: *****

Atmosphere: *****

How to get there: Once you're in Clarence Parade, South Parade is your aim. Turn left on to Burgoyne Road where you'll find the entrance to the restaurant. Parking on-street, and you'll possibly better luck on South Parade rather than Burgoyne Road.