Every time I have walked past Huis, the Belgian bar and kitchen at Elm Grove, it has been packed. People have either been queuing out the door or there hasn't been any room to even open it in the first place.
With their global selection of more than 60 beers on offer, it's no surprise that it’s always packed on a Friday and Saturday night.
So we can assume the beer is good – but what about the food?
Well, it did not disappoint.
As Storm Freya raged outside, the cosy bar was the perfect spot to take shelter on a Sunday evening.
The bar’s decor takes inspiration from a 1960s living room with warm lighting and modernist features. The cosy bar was warm and and friendly and the staff are very accommodating, with a great knowledge of the beers and what drink would compliment your meal.
My companion and I opted for two of their fruity beers – one being Fruli Strawberry Beer and the other being a guest blueberry and vanilla sour.
From moules et frites to croques, Huis prides itself on catering ‘a taste of pure Belgium’. For those with a hearty appetite and also those opting for a smaller portion, plus a couple of gluten free and vegetarian options, the menu.
I’m glad I booked because although the bar wasn’t heaving like it normally is, the restaurant filled up quickly – even on a wet and windy Sunday evening.
After not a lot of deliberation, we ordered the traditional beef carbonade which is a beef stew cooked slowly in dark, cherry and wheat beers with smoked lardons, root vegetables and stoemp (£13.95) and moules mariniére et frites which is mussels cooked with celery, shallots and garlic, served with chips in garlic butter, white wine and parsley (£15.95).
It was less than 20 minutes before our food was placed in front of us and it tasted as good as it looked.
The slow-cooked beef literally melted in your mouth and the beer gravy was delicious. The stoemp – for those who don’t know – is similar to bubble and squeak but is a Belgian twist of mashed potatoes, cream, onion and herbs and it was tasty.
The portion size was good and I left feeling stuffed. As tempting as they were, there was no chance I could squeeze in a waffle.
My companion enjoyed the moules mariniére – although they weren’t as good as some other mussels dishes they have had. The mussels were cooked well however there could have been a bit more garlic and white wine sauce to accompany the dish. The chips were nice but again, a couple more would have gone down a treat.
I would heartily recommend the beef carbonade and am looking forward to returning to try another meat dish. The variations of moules et frites, such as the witbier which is a sauce made out of curry spices and HUIS wheat beer, mean we will definitely be paying another visit.
Initially I thought the prices were a little expensive however for the quality of food, I wouldn’t mind paying it again. The portion sizes were good that we decided to leave dessert and opted for another fruit beer instead.
HUIS, Elm Grove, Southsea
Tel: (023) 9217 6465
Ratings (out of five)