FOOD REVIEW: The Lightship, Haslar Marina, Gosport
When you go on to Google Maps and find your restaurant of choice is inconveniently located in the middle of Portsmouth Harbour, you'd be forgiven for being a tad worried.
But then again, The Lightship is hardly a conventional place to eat.
Situated onboard a vessel on the edge of Haslar Marina, its food has become a favourite with those travelling by sea as well as those looking for a unique dining experience.
Built in 1947, the ship was originally stationed on the east coast of Britain and in the English Channel.
It was decommissioned in 1993 before being renovated and transformed into a restaurant and bar.
Today the boat offers some of the most beautiful views of Portsmouth and Gosport, so when my partner and I paid a visit our expectations for the evening were high.
In our initial confusion, we did wonder from afar whether we were looking at a popular eatery or a fully-functioning vessel. But it all seems to be part of the charm.
Stepping inside, we were warmly welcomed by our waitress and shown to our seats.
We were given the choice of the top deck, well-known for boasting some of the most glorious views around of Portsmouth and Gosport, or the more sheltered lower level.
After opting for the latter, we were shown to our table and left to peruse the menu.
Unlike what you might expect from a restaurant based on the water, there were only a handful of seafood options available, but diners will find something to suit all tastes.
For starters my girlfriend chose the tempura squid covered in beautifully crisp batter with just the right amount of chilli.
Unlike other versions of the same dish we’ve tried in restaurants, the squid was well-cooked without tasting too rubbery.
I went for the haddock fishcakes, which were nicely matched with the accompanying sauce and full of flavour.
Inbetween courses we went to check the view from upstairs, and it’s safe to say it didn’t disappoint, especially in the recent warm weather.
Taking a break from the fish-based options, we both went for meat dishes for the main course.
The pork belly was arguably the highlight of our visit – cooked well, just enough to get that feeling when the meat falls apart in your mouth.
The pork was also well-paired with a rich creamy cider sauce, with the sweetness of the apple also coming through.
The chicken, pictured, also lived up to expectations, served with a tasty selection of vegetables, including asparagus and swede, and chunky and crisp chips to fill up any hungry customer.
After greatly enjoying our first two courses, we went for the romantic option for our dessert and shared a sticky toffee pudding.
The Dish Detective is a big fan of the traditional dish, and the pudding was full of flavour, though could have been served with more sauce and ice cream.
The Lightship is one of the most popular restaurants in Gosport, according to Trip Advisor, and as a unique dining experience it is hard to beat.
The atmosphere was quaint, rustic – a refreshing change from some of the more modern eateries the Dish Detective has visited.
A final word for people wanting to eat at The Lightship. The boat is accessible to those docking at Haslar Marina, but if not be sure to ring and book first to be given a temporary code to be able to enter the marina.
RATINGS (out of five):
Tel: (023) 9250 3387