This was the first time DD had dined in the Southsea Terrace joint post-pandemic, and we were apprehensive, as after eating here two years ago the food was mediocre, bland, and the whole dining experience nothing to be raved about.
However, this time around both adults were pleasantly surprised.
For a weekday evening, the place was buzzing.
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Even tucked away on the raised floor seating, the tables behind us were full, and it was clear this was the ‘place to be’ for social meet-ups.
We were greeted warmly on arrival by a smiling waitress and a team of attentive staff across the restaurant.
It was obvious from the outset the waiting staff took pride in their jobs, and this makes all the difference when you’re deliberating about going out because you really do feel like a pampered guest in good hands.
Our waiter went to great lengths to ensure our drinks were topped up, the table wiped clean after clearing away each course, and our food was served piping hot (as you’d certainly expect for the price we were paying).
What’s more, DD and their companion were treated to quick service, with each meal arriving promptly after the other.
It seemed like no request was too big an ask, which is ideal when we are still getting used to going out again - drawn away from the usual comforts of our own homes.
It was a huge tick for having small plates.
The starters lend themselves to a tapas feel. Simple, good quality pub grub but with a modern twist which resembled something a bit more continental.
I read out our choices - the calamari with a sea salt and black pepper crumb (£6.25) and smoked chorizo with diced potato, garlic and parsley (also £6.25).
If we’d opted for another, we could have taken advantage of the three plates for a £15 deal, but we wanted to save ourselves for the main event.
DD’s companion was more than satisfied with his generous helping of Spanish-inspired flavours.
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But more could be said for the calamari. The crispy, tenderness of the squid complimented by the sweetness of the chilli sauce was a big hit.
They were as moreish as Pringles, which is why the portion size was a let down.
The Dish Detective is also a big fan of burgers, so when a selection of six presented themselves on the menu, both adults were grinning from ear to ear.
DD ordered the Brewer’s burger (£12.50), two 100 per cent British chuck and short rib patties in a tower which had to be prised apart with a knife and fork.
But my meat-loving companion indulged in the more lavish 10-ounce ribeye steak (£17.95).
The steak? Cooked to perfection as requested – medium rare. The chips? Golden and skinny, but not quite fluffy enough to cause DD’s companion to salivate.
The mushrooms? Delicate but delicious. And the peppercorn sauce? Fine. But not one of the best they had tasted.
To cast judgment on the final ratings, it was clear both adults must opt for a dessert, and despite both bellies being content already, shared the signature cheesecake served with a rhubarb and stem ginger compote (all of the desserts were a very reasonable £5.50). Baked to perfection.
Overall, DD was very impressed with the variety on offer for families and couples alike. Although the noisiness could be a turn-off for a young family, the ambience was lively and lifted the mood.
But the faultless service made for such a friendly experience, we will certainly be coming back.
RATINGS (out of five)
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