The Dish Detective’s knowledge of Horndean is, to be frank, small. The old Gales Brewery (obviously), Merchistoun Hall, being near the A3… and that’s about it. No offence, mind. It seems a perfectly pleasant place.
As part of the traditional thorough research undertaken by the Dish Detective (also known as looking at Wikipedia), we have learned that the name may mean one of two things –either ‘valley by a horn-shaped hill’ or ‘valley of the dormouse’.
Both of these are splendid titles and have pre-disposed the Dish Detective to like the village even more, and perhaps now we have a reason for being slightly more frequent visitors.
That reason? A lovely bar / restaurant which, for all its strengths could’ve taken a leaf out of its home and gone for a more poetic name than just using its address – Four London Road.
However, that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet and so on; perhaps they’re just happy to let their cooking and hosting do the talking. Because what they are doing, they are doing brilliantly.
We stopped by for an early Saturday lunch after taking a toddler to see Father Christmas at the nearby Keydell Nurseries.
We’re not sure if he understands why he’s seen a lot of bearded old men in red and white recently (and it’s not because we’ve taken him to St Mary’s...arf!), but one thing is sure, he still knows when he’s hungry.
We’d come equipped with various things for him but thought we would whip up the road to the middle of Horndean to have ourselves a treat too… and we were very glad we did.
At first it seemed slightly intimidating. It’s a proper fashionable bar, and we are not proper fashionable people. Everyone working there, both male and female, look like they could be models.
The Dish Detective does not look like a model. But with good looks came great bonhomie –everyone working was a friendly as you like, and if there is a phrase ‘a happy kitchen makes a good lunch’ then this place bears it out.
The Dish Detective went for a Fully Booked full English brunch (£9.50) as we’d squeezed in just before the midday cut-off. Yes, in some ways it was ‘just’ a fry-up but my goodness it’s one of if not the best the DD has had round here.
Proper bacon and sausages – where all you can taste is the meat and not any added water in the bacon or padding in the snorkers.
Spicy beans, poached eggs, a potato latke, mushrooms and some very good sourdough. Every element was spot on, and while yes, I’m sure you could get a full English for half-price elsewhere, this will be more than twice as good.
DD’s companion was equally impressed by a Cajun chicken pizza (£12.50), cooked in the restaurant’s pizza oven. A slogan painted on the wall says ‘Buy me a pizza and tell me I’m pretty’ so that’s exactly what I did, and both my compliment and the pizza went down very well.
We also ordered some hummus and flatbread (£3.95) for the toddler. Obviously, because he’d spotted skinny fries (£3.60) he turned his nose up at the healthy food. However, his father put it good use for lunch the next day and can testify it was very well put together. The fries also definitely passed muster.
So well done all round. Yes, we were there at a quiet time but we’d love to return for a night (maybe when we try a social life again).
Good people who live in the valley of the dormouse, you’re on to a winner.
This has all of the style you’d expect in somewhere like Southsea, not a village.
You’d love it if it was at the end of your road, and you can’t give much more praise than that.
Four London Road, Horndean
Tel: (023) 9425 1221
Ratings (out of five)