'We might still secretly cry for Robert Dyas but new kid Vito Lounge has brought a bit of life to Fareham' - Dish Detective review: Vito Lounge, Fareham
What can be done with the dying high street?
In Fareham, like most other towns, the effects of internet shopping, changing consumer needs and a general shift from proper shops can be seen.
Debenhams languishes empty, the old M&S store too, and despite the town’s best efforts to stem the tide, it seems traditional shopping may have had its day.
When Robert Dyas became the latest brand to pull out of its town centre store, Dish Detective almost shed a tear. Yes, Wilkos is good for some things, but it doesn’t quite match the DIY expertise level of good old solid, trusted Robert Dyas.
Well, we digress, get on to the food I hear you cry. After many months closed, the unit sprang to life earlier this summer, when after several planning applications, workmen set about bringing in its change of use.
Loungers, the trendy brand behind Cosy Club and the various Lounges across the country, were moving in.
Down came the dark green, and in came the shiny bright pink tiles, outdoor seating, illuminated letters and lots of kitsch – think old mismatched chairs, velvet sofas, lamps and pictures you’d probably seen at your nan’s house in the 80s.
Vito Lounge opened in August and despite some locals’ reservations about whether Fareham was trendy enough to accommodate it, the venue has pulled in the crowds. It's a laid-back affair, music on but at the right volume so you can actually talk. There are candles, the lights are dimmed, and it doesn’t matter if you want a full three-course meal or a drink, everyone is welcome here.
There's an app to order, which proved quick and easy, or you can go to the bar. We get the sense that it doesn't matter, just do what you like and be happy, that’s the vibe.
We order in a traditional lounge burger (£9.50) – a 6oz beef patty, lettuce, tomato, red onion, gherkin and burger sauce burger. But there are plenty of burger options, such as chicken, halloumi, and smokey joe plus more.
Our colleague goes for the tapas, and there are plenty of options, three pla tes cost £11.50. We also note the Tuesday deal – three plates and a free glass of wine, I’ve a suspicion we’ll be back.
We also note the fab gluten-free and vegan options. Whole separate menus, bravo Lounges.
The burger is deliciously meaty, served with coleslaw and chips in a mug.
The tapas – salt and pepper squid and buffalo chicken wings – were also delici o us. The squid was tasty, with small portions, and a squeeze of lime and with roasted garlic mayo . The chicken wings were covered in a wonderful sticky hot pepper sauce, served with blue cheese mayo and chive.
Breaking from the traditional tapas, we swapped our third plate for chips – and Lounges goes a great chip. Not too fat and chewy, just fine and crunchy enough, to still be a chip rather than a fry.
For drinks , as well as lime and sodas and beer, we dabbled with the cocktail menu, ordering a caramel apple daiquiri (£8.25), beautifully sweet and foamy, enough to count a s a pudding. We also ordered an Amalfi spritz (£6.25) however this was far too bitter and needed some sunsh ine to sweeten it up. Not quite the same as sipping it on a terrace in Italy perhaps.
On the whole, the Vito Lounge experience was a great on e . The venue was welcoming, laid-back and the food and cocktails were up to scratch.
The venue is set out over two floors, wit h the toilets up some rather steep looking stairs (note – there is an accessible loo and babychange downstairs).
While a small part of Dish Detective still mourns for Robert Dyas, the Vito Lounge seems to have slotted right into Fareham life. It’s brought a bit of character - and life - to the town.
Vito Lounge, West Street, Fareham 01329 233444
Child friendly: 4
(Ratings out of five)
A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.
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