Love Your Local: Meat and Barrel, Southsea

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If tucking into a hearty meat dish and a pint of quality ale is your thing, then Meat and Barrel is the place to be.

The southern end of Palmerston Road, in Southsea, has been given a lift thanks to the opening of the stylish craft beer and food venue.

You can choose from a variety of different dinners on the menu or if you’re not hungry then you can just stop by and try out the vast selection of beers.

There are six cask ales available as well as 18 keg varieties – known more commonly now as craft beer.

Plus there’s a decent vegetarian selection if meat doesn’t take your fancy.

The bar, situated in the former Bamboo Bar & Restaurant, opened on Monday, and is owned by Victorious Festival organisers and Belle Isle restaurant team James Ralls, Ben Miles and Andy Marsh.

Steffan Jones, who manages the venue for the trio, said he was pleased with how well things had gone so far.

‘The response has been positive,’ he said.

‘It’s still early days so we are taking all the feedback we can get.

‘Craft beer is a growing trend in London and we wanted to bring it here to Portsmouth.

‘We are finding more craft beer pubs.

‘We catch up with other London trends eventually, but we wanted to be one of the first places outside London to do this.

‘I think it’s something people will take to here.’

Meat and Barrel stocks beers from across the country and Wales, as well as local beers from Irving & Brewers, in Drayton, Portsmouth. Brews will also soon be stocked from The Oakleaf Brewing Company, in Gosport.

‘It’s going to be great in the summer,’ Steffan said.

‘We have completely refurbished the front, put in big windows and it’s nice and airy and light, and we have got some great little restaurants around us.

‘There’s quite a lot going on in this end of the street now.’

The inside is stripped back and original brick and steel work has been exposed to help promote a retro feel.

The venue is gearing up for next year and will be holding an amateur brewing competition being run by Strong Island in February. The event has been previously held at Little Johnny Russells, in Albert Road, Southsea.

Tory ward councillor Linda Symes said it has breathed new life into that part of the street.

‘It’s fantastic for that part of Palmerston Road,’ she said.

‘They have got something original and exciting there.’

‘The staff are great, the space is great and in the summer it will be wonderful.

‘Although they have opened these premises, the Belle Isle is still full, it’s not taking one customer base away and spreading it over two restaurants.’

CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the opening of Meat and Barrel and say it is a boost to the beer industry.

Martyn Constable, a member of the local branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, said the venue was a reflection of how more people are turning away from working for large pub companies and wanting to work for those who have local businesses at heart.

‘I think it’s absolutely stunning,’ he said.

‘The more venues selling quality beer, the better.

‘With places like The Wave Maiden, in Osborne Road, and Meat and Barrel, it proves people don’t want to go into work with the big companies any more.

‘They want to offer a range of beer and a range of everything.

‘They don’t want to be tied to Fosters and Carlsberg and other big national brands.

‘While Meat and Barrel is not a traditional pub, it’s great for the beer industry, and shows what the industry could be like if the big breweries allowed it.

‘If the big companies were just landlords that just collected rent we would be seeing more pubs selling a range of beers.

Steffan Jones, Meat and Barrel manager, has worked in bars across the city for 10 years.

He was part of the team that opened the Belle Isle restaurant in Chichester and got involved with Meat and Barrel following that.

‘We don’t want to re-create the Belle Isle here at Meat and Barrel, the food is much more traditional, compared to the world cuisine offer Belle Isle offers.

‘I enjoy this job because it’s different everyday.’