It felt like a scorching summer's evening but it was only the May Bank Holiday Monday, one of the hottest ones on record. A friend and I were walking along Portsmouth’s seafront fresh from the office, enjoying the sun and the sea breeze.
The seafront is well supplied with places to eat but it was heaving, and we wanted a bit of peace and quiet during our meal. And after about 15 minutes of walking we found somewhere that looked promising.
The Wave Maiden looks like an old world pub with a quirky edge to the décor. It would have been easy to pass by but I’m glad we didn’t.
First order of business: drinks. My companion was driving so I got to sample the Wave Maiden’s selection of cask beers and ciders.
After a quick chat to the friendly gent behind the bar I settled on a pint of Thistly Cross Whisky Cask Cider.
It was very drinkable; smooth, crisp and surprisingly refreshing for something so sweet – a dangerous combination –the whisky added oaky sophistication to the flavour.
The menu was intriguing, there wasn’t a massive selection but there was a decent amount of choice and every item on the menu had a vegan alternative.
I decided to order Poutine topped with pulled pork, my companion ordered Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Pulled Pork known at the Wave Maiden as The Mac Daddy.
Our food did not take long to arrive and I was impressed by what I saw. It was nicely presented and the portions were a decent size, excellent value for money.
It was my first time trying Poutine, a Canadian dish made by covering fries with gravy and melted cheese curds. If the Weave Maiden’s offering was typical then would definitely order it again.
The gravy was perfect, thick and rich and steaming hot. The cheese curds added a creamy texture and flavour to the dish, and the pork itself was gorgeous, tender and lightly spiced so you could still appreciate the flavour of the meat.
The fries were nothing extraordinary but tasty and crispy. If I had one complaint, I felt that the cheese could have been just a little bit cheesier.
My companion’s Mac Daddy looked delicious, topped with crispy breadcrumbs and the bacon and pulled pork was blended into cheese sauce to create a tantalising mix of textures and flavours.
The bacon was perfect, crispy but still slightly chewy, though he felt it could have benefited from a little bit more pulled pork and felt that the cheese sauce, while nice and creamy could have been a little bit cheesier.
The Wave Maiden does not have a desert menu but has specials up on the board that change daily so the choice is limited. Both options looked good when we were there; an ice cream sandwich and a chocolate brownie with ice cream.
I went for the ice cream sandwich. The vanilla ice cream was delicious but the cookie slices were underwhelming, so the overall flavour was a little plain.
My friend went for the brownie; it was nicely presented, topped with toasted mini marshmallows and served with ice cream. It looked delicious but according to my companion it was a little dry.
We were a little disappointed with the desserts but our expectations were very high after the excellent main courses.
I’d recommend the Wave Maiden for its great food, friendly staff and pleasant atmosphere. It is definitely aimed at adults - it is as much a pub as it is a restaurant and so is not really suitable for children.
If you are in Southsea and you’re after a decent pint and pub grub with style and substance then look no further than the Wave Maiden.