FOOD REVIEW: What a revelation! It's foodie heaven at this former chapel
Down a long (make that very long)Â and winding suburbanÂ road, one may be rather surprised to come across aÂ large village.Â
Think Hot Fuzz, because this place is Â completely hidden from viewÂ and we saw no one walkingÂ its streets.Â
A mix of Victorian-style houses and new blocks, Knowle Village, in Fareham, is a good-looking place but almost too good-looking '“Â unnervingly so.
Known for its hospital that still houses patients withÂ mental illness today, many believe the buildings that are now apartments and homes for many, are haunted.
But in the middle of all the brick stands what was once the mortuary, at a later time a chapel, and now Clifford Brown's Brasserie.
Having recently made number two on the list of the best restaurants in Hampshire, according to TripAdvisor, I had a good feelingÂ as I took my parents for Sunday lunch.Â
The building looked out of place between a small shop and an estate agents but was rather grand all the same.Â Comfy leather sofas, dark greyÂ walls and bowler hat lights all madeÂ for a relaxed and modern vibe.
As the only eatery in the village, one can stop by for a drink or a bite to eat, the brasserie does well in catering to all tastes with a variety of drinks, snacks and meals and '“Â with a nod the past '“Â a church-inspired railing separates the drinkers from the diners.
To start we shared three small plates as none of us could decide what to have, it all sounded so good.Â
In the end we picked ham hock and rabbit terrine with pear and saffron chutney (Â£7), potted shrimps with toast (Â£8) and fried squid with harissa mayo (Â£7).
Usually when I think of terrine I imagine it tastes better than it looks but this was truly an artistic masterpiece that had the flavour to match.
Toasted garlic, chilli and coriander lifted the crunchy squid to new heights and while it's quite a common sight on menus, this was a new level of deliciousness.Â
The potted shrimp was rich '“Â perfect for one bite but too much for one person to eat.Â
In between courses, the staff, all of whom live locally, chatted about the history of the building and the village and were up for a laugh.Â
Making a decision on mainsÂ was difficult. Not only did everything on the menu sound to die for but the specials' board was equally long and delicious-sounding.Â
After much debate I opted for the Sussex plantation cote de pork with sage, house BBQ sauce, apple and fennel slaw and fries (Â£15). Mother chose the pollock with cockles in a saffron sauce (Â£17) and fennel gratin, and Dish Detective's father went for the scallops with bacon (Â£25).Â
Tangy, porky and crispy sums up my main course and I could happily drown in the house BBQ sauce. Â
For mother the pollock was meaty with nice cockles and a sweet sauce which isÂ apparently just how she likes it.
Father enjoyed what he described as a classic combination of perfectly-cooked scallop with salty bacon and a crunch from the parsnip crisp, although he said perhaps a few quid too dear for just the five fruits of the sea.
We ventured on to dessert despite nearing our limit but were overjoyed with the plates presented to us and were told in no uncertain terms we could not get down from the table unless we finished (an example of the waitresses' banter).
Blood orange posset (Â£7), milk chocolate delice (Â£7) and caramelised pearÂ crumble (Â£6) were the crescendo finish to a truly excellentÂ meal.Â
Whether you're popping out for a coffee, going for lunch, or just fancyÂ a drink, Clifford Brown's Brasserie is the only place to go.Â
Clifford Brown's Brasserie, Knowle Village, Fareham 01329 834241
Ratings out of five