Carol Godsmark reviews The Sailmaker in Gosport

The Sailmaker public house in Gosport.
The Sailmaker public house in Gosport.
Portsmouth & Southsea railway station by Andy Cooper

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Marstons, owner of more than 2,000 ‘distinctive pubs with individual character and appeal’, opened The Sailmaker last year.

However the new build is not of any architectural merit; it’s more an identikit, anywheresville style.

The only item of interest is the round artwork above the entrance, showing a romanticised view of a sailmaker bent over his work with the sea in the background.

Although a few sailmakers continue to function in the Gosport area, why Marstons celebrates this craft isn’t apparent.

And nor is the pub by the sea, but in the very landlocked Holbrook Leisure Centre.

Wishful thinking by Marstons, perhaps, trying too hard to put a local spin on it.

Inside, the large family-oriented pub has equally little to distinguish itself.

It’s a swirly carpet affair with a few areas partitioned off to give the illusion of at least trying to make it interesting.

A kind of spray-on character pervades the building.

But what is impressive is the staff who look after their customers with alacrity and charm.

Many, judging by the queue, had come for the carvery next to the L-shaped bar.

It was priced at just £3.99 for the supposedly smaller portion, up to £5.99 (it goes up to £7.50 on Sundays and bank holiday Mondays).

For an extra £1 customers can opt for the Go Large size, but I would say the portions are pretty mega-sized to start with.

For these low sums you get a range of three roasts, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing and seasonal vegetables as well as gravy and sauces.

If you’re not seduced by those meats heartily carved by another very cheerful, friendly staff member, the menu is as a large as those carvery platefuls.

Breaded mushrooms, prawn cocktail, chicken fritters, soup and other starters are on offer.

Then move on to sausages; beef and ale pie; ham, egg and chips; chicken and bacon salad; grills; burgers; fish and chips.

There are light bites here too as well as carvery baps, sandwiches, wraps and jacket potatoes.

Prices start at £3.10 for the soup to £12.95 for the mixed grill, with many mains around £8-£9.

Of course I had to have a carvery meal.

First of all bag your table – an excellent server scoured the pub for a free one for me, then explained to me the ways of Marstons ordering.

I bought a voucher for the small portion and a glass of okay Shiraz and joined the queue.

The day’s meats – turkey, ham and silverside beef – were thickly sliced and piled on to a small plate on top of a wooden charger.

Once the Yorkshire was on board and topped with vegetables, this resembled a kind of mishmash.

The meats, roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding were excellent.

But not so the lacklustre dull cabbage, carrots and cheeseless cauliflower cheese.

The gravy was also unimpressive.

The desserts were huge and quite sickly-looking and a sample of carrot cake confirmed that opinion.

My bill came to just under £11.

The Sailmaker, Holbrook Leisure Centre, Fareham Road, Gosport PO13 0ZX (023)9250 1332.

Open 7am–11pm (8.30am Saturday, 10.30am Sunday)

Disabled access: plenty of space for wheelchairs.

How to get there: Exit at Fareham on M27 and take the A32 towards Gosport. Turn off on Forest Way, pub on the left, park in Holbrook car park.

Ratings (maximum *****)

Food ***

Service ****

Atmosphere ***