Portsmouth Christmas Market 2019: Here's what we made of the food on offer

STANDFIRST:The Dish Detective, The Guide’s own anonymous restaurant critic turns his tastebuds and his beady eye on the culinary delights on offer at Portsmouth’s Christmas Market WITH lashings of tinsel everywhere you turn and seemingly a Christmas light switch-on each night, Dish Detective decided it was high time to sample some festive fare.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 10:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 5:28 pm

Is there anything that gets people in the festive spirit more than crowding around wooden huts illuminated by the glow from Primark, drinking beer in the street and eating food out of little cardboard containers?

One could argue that this doesn’t sound very Christmassy at all, but a seasonal tradition has been made of the Portsmouth Christmas Market which pops up every year along Commercial Road, and I for one am a big fan.

I choose a weekday evening to stroll through the stalls with my companion, hoping to avoid harried Christmas shoppers who are no doubt filling Cascades and the surrounding area at the weekends.

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A selection of the huts at this year's Christmas market in Commercial Road, Portsmouth

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Look around Portsmouth Christmas market as it opens for 2019

A wise choice it seems, as we arrive to find very few punters milling about so there is no need to queue at the variety of food venues.

As we made our way straight to the market after work, we were ravenous, and Dish Detective’s little helper is soon drawn in by a vendor serving up portions of fried rice, noodles and sweet and sour chicken out of huge woks.

Opting for a half-and-half pot filled to the brim with vegan fried rice and vegan noodles (£5), my companion decides to top it off with some grilled chicken for an extra pound.

A mountain of rice, noodles and chicken from Portsmouth Christmas market in Commercial Road

This generous serving of Asian cuisine really hits the spot, with the happy elf offering me a forkful to try as they begin to struggle - it is delicious, and certainly tastes much better than it looks, although it didn’t feel particularly festive.

A slightly more indecisive Dish Detective wandered around the stalls, considering whether to have a Christmas carvery, tempted by the option to have it in a Yorkshire wrap, or the German market stalwart: a giant Bratwurst in a sea of fried onions and bread.

However, always one to try something slightly different, I am pulled in by the temptation of a Greek gyros stall which offers a chicken or pork pitta for £4.90, stuffed in with the classic toppings of chips, sauce and onions.

Chicken gyros pitta from Commercial Road Christmas market in Portsmouth

Never one to turn down carbs inside carbs, I scarf down the meal while considering which distant relative would appreciate a personalised bauble or truckle of cheese from the stalls next door - and it doesn’t take long.

I look down and my very salty, but very tasty dinner is gone. Perhaps I had arrived too hungry for this particular choice, but I could have eaten another one - and maybe another after that.

While this reflects well on the flavour my chosen dish offers, it isn’t great for Dish Detective’s rumbling stomach, so I drag my companion to find a dessert option as they attempt to finish their enviable mountain of rice and noodles.

Picture: Portsmouth Christmas market

With no sweet treats forthcoming from the rest of the German-style huts - of which there are only around 15 - we decide instead to head off to Sprinkles to fill Dish Detective’s perpetually empty tum, before watching people slipping about on Guildhall Square’s ice rink.

Although it doesn’t appear to be an everything-you-need shopping destination and there are some confusing choices of stall - Cats Protection doesn’t scream (or miaow) Happy Christmas - the market is certainly a pleasant place to stop and take in a traditional festive atmosphere between foraging through the shops for stocking fillers.

Despite some food envy on the part of Dish Detective, we head home feeling satisfied and suitably jolly, considering which Christmas film should be next on our Advent agenda.