Scarlet Tap, Palmerston Road, Southsea: Restaurant review
The food served at the Slug and Lettuce was never a hit for me, so trying out the new eating place filling its shoes was always going to be interesting.
The Scarlet Tap is sandwiched between Drift bar and The Lord Palmerston pub, in Palmerston Road, Southsea, with a few tables outdoors.
If nothing else it is an amazing spot for people-watching.
On one of the hottest Sundays of the year so far, you’d think finding a good spot outside to enjoy lunch would be a struggle, but we have no trouble walking straight up to a table, although it is possibly the world’s wobbliest – a major pet peeve.
With the outdoor seating area being on a slight slope they could do with inserting a few folded-up napkins under a leg or two.
The interior is decorated with quirky neon signs, trendy wall art and purposely-clashing tiles.
Definitely Instagrammable for those social media lovers.
It is laid-out almost exactly the same as the Slug and Lettuce was, but feels a little cooler and more spacious inside.
The menu has a selection of different meals including vegetarian and vegan, which, although I am neither, I always like to see on a menu.
They also have an entire gluten-free menu.
Picking a dish is pretty difficult with all the choice, but I settle for a British favourite – cod and chips.
I even push the boat out and order bread and butter for an extra £1.
We also order sharing nachos for two.
It is a toss-up between that and the 100 – yes, 100! – chicken wings for £37.
Orders are made at the bar, which is a little inconvenient, but also saves flagging down a waiter at the end of the meal to ask for the bill.
The waiters and waitresses are polite and helpful, but the service is not mind-blowing.
The waiting time for food is pretty good, not too long, but long enough for your mouth to start watering.
Again, considering it was a hot Sunday in Southsea I’d say it was good going.
The nachos are the biggest test, as they can so easily go wrong.
But they are a pleasant surprise.
For £8 they nicely line two hungry people’s stomachs ready for our mains.
The toppings – of which there are a lot – are evenly distributed throughout the tortilla chips and almost every chip is cheesy.
As any nacho lover will tell you, that is very important.
And as far as these nachos go, they are definitely up there with the greats I’ve eaten.
The piece of battered cod is huge, I only manage half. If I could fit in the other half I would.
It isn’t too greasy and the batter isn’t overbearing. It comes on a healthy bed of chips with a dollop of mushy peas and a pot of tartar sauce on the side. All of it is really tasty and more or less exactly what I expect from a pub-type restaurant.
My only criticism is the dollop of mushy peas which is literally just a dollop, about the size of a tablespoon. Not very big, considering the meal is £12.50.
The bread and butter that comes with it is exactly what it says on the tin.
Two slices of white bread and one 10g portion of butter.
The butter just about stretches across one slice, which lets the meal down a little.
But, compared to the Slug and Lettuce, Scarlet Tap is definitely an upgrade.
I’m looking forward to going back soon and trying the rest of the menu already. Especially the 100 wings.