Carol Godsmark reviews: Shake and Grill, Southsea

Shake and Grill, Southsea.
Shake and Grill, Southsea.
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Opening in September 2014, Shake and Grill, a burger, piri-piri chicken and milkshake grill, now plans two more this year, a staff member tells me in this vivid purple-pink place.

It raises the question: do we need any more? Anyone from another galaxy would be forgiven for thinking if we don’t get a daily fix of this type of food, we’ll expire.

But back to business, this one is at Elm Grove and ‘Home to Good Food.’

Cooked in an open, pink-purple kitchen beside purple banquettes and ‘brick’ wallpaper, the menu showcases piri-piri chicken with five types of chilli sauces from mildly light to inferno. If you want less heat and more lemon there are two others.

Choose too from a quarter, half, whole chicken, wings, strips and lamb chops. Burgers – beef, chicken, lamb or falafel – come with halloumi cheese or cream cheese with sweet chilli. There are steaks as well as wraps.

Platters, comprising those piri-piri offerings, join salads as well as luridly thick milkshakes in 20 flavours including mint Aero, Ferrero Rocher, Snickers and Kit Kat. Prices from £2.99 for a quarter chicken to £7.49 for the chops. Up to £15.99 for a fillet steak. Burgers from £2.99. Fries £1.99. Shakes from £3.49 (two flavours – shudder - £3.99).

I ordered fattoush salad and quarter chicken with hot piri-piri sauce (‘designed to hit the spot and take your taste buds into a combustible journey’ – quite a tantalising trip in prospect). The square, white dish showed off the bright, shiny orange/red sauce draped over the chicken to startling advantage. Excellent meat cooked to a moreish moistness married well with the ‘combustible’ sauce. While not transporting me to another world, it showed good sourcing.

Not so the fattoush salad. It had the usual ingredients for this Arabic favourite – tomatoes, lettuce, red onion, cucumber – but it lacked the billed mint, parsley and sumac (ground spicy-lemony red berries).

The mango milkshake was too thick with a thatch of off-putting whipped piped cream. A thick straw struggled to slurp it up. Served in a gaudy purple glass, these were a major hit with a gaggle of girls. This place, I was told by the charming foreign student waitress, is popular with students as well as families.

If you can’t get enough of this type of eatery and are looking for a quick, mostly cheap, burger/chicken bite and a place to hang out for some selfies, you’ve found it. But the question still remains: when will the world reach saturation point for burgers and the like? The US Shake Shack, with a market value of $2.5bn, is now open in the UK as are US burger joints Five Guys and Smashburger. I guess I’ve answered my own question. Roll on obesity.

My bill came to just under £7 not including a tip.


Shake and Grill: 75 Elm Grove, Portsmouth PO5 1JF (023)9229 6200 Open seven days a week – 1pm to midnight.

Food: ***

Service: ****

Atmosphere: ***

Disabled access: fine.

How to get there: Elm Grove joins Museum Road and Albert Road, the grill on the left going east. On-street parking.