FOOD REVIEW: A craic(ing) Irish breakfast

Shenanigans Irish Bar and Caf, Osborne Road, Southsea
Shenanigans Irish Bar and Caf, Osborne Road, Southsea
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In this day and age it can be hard to find somewhere to eat that offers an authentic, traditional atmosphere. Bland, cookie-cutter chains have spread like the plague, and present a serious challenge for those looking to go somewhere with a bit of character.

This is especially true when it comes to pubs and bars.

Belt-strainer: but you can't beat an Irish breakfast

Belt-strainer: but you can't beat an Irish breakfast

Chains rule the roost and some of the independent venues have been forced to close.

But there are still bars that are able to put a smile on people's faces – and Shenanigans Irish Bar and Café in Osborne Road, Southsea, is a perfect example of that.

So, as the Dish Detective had a couple of hours to spare he decided to pop down and see what all the fuss was about.

The bar is a comfortable and relaxing place to be with a mix of traditional Irish music and rock playing in the background.

On top of that, the staff are incredibly welcoming and seem to know their customers very well.

I ordered the Irish Breakfast (£7.95) which includes two pieces of bacon, a pork sausage, black and white pudding, fried potato, eggs, beans, tomato, mushrooms and toast. That's a heck of a lot of food for less than £8, so consider me suitably impressed.

Let's start with the white and black pudding – they were fantastic.

The white pudding (something I can't profess to eat on a regular basis) melted in the mouth. I would have liked it to be a tad bigger as it was dwarfed on the plate by its darker kinsman.

The black pudding itself was also cooked brilliantly; it was crispy on the outside and the flavour really exploded in the mouth, with a perfect balance of seasoning.

The tomato was juicy and tasted great, if a little underdone. But that crisp freshness really lifted the whole breakfast.

As for the fried eggs, they may well just be the best fried eggs I have had at any restaurant.

They were cooked to perfection, cooked through with nothing burnt underneath (something other establishments struggle with).

The yolk was perfect as well, and didn't run away to the other end of the plate once opened. I can't say enough to praise the eggs – when you go there, order an extra one they are that good.

The sausages used at Shenanigans come from the award-winning Southsea butcher Buckwells (a close neighbour), so quality is guaranteed before they are even cooked.

Even so, the sausage was also cooked beautifully; it was juicy and packed with flavour.

For those looking for a true Irish breakfast, square sausages are available which is a nice touch from the owners.

Finally, the bacon; for me the make-or-break part of any fry-up.

Now, with bacon there is a high degree of personal preference – some prefer their bacon crispy, others (me included) prefer it to be just barely cooked at all.

Somehow – and I have no idea how they have done this – Shenanigans has created the best of both worlds.

The bacon is crispy on the outside, but because the slices are quite thick, there's still a good meaty texture.

Shenanigans is a true gem of a place to visit, with a great atmosphere, even better food and wonderful staff.

Whether you're about to spend the day shopping in Southsea, or are just looking for a meal out with a bit of traditional craic, Shenanigans is the ideal place to tuck in to some incredible food.

RATINGS (out of five)

SHENANIGANS, OSBORNE ROAD, SOUTHSEA (023) 9229 3756

Food: 4

Value: 5

Ambience: 5

Child-friendly: 3