Carol Godsmark at The Fleet, Portsmouth

The Fleet in King Henry Street, Portsmouth
The Fleet in King Henry Street, Portsmouth
Charmed Life Festival in 2017

Charmed Life Festival returns to Portsmouth

Have your say

The Fleet, a handsome, large red-brick pub opposite the Guildhall in Portsmouth, has recently had a major makeover.

Its barn-like interior has benefited from a £175,000 refurb undertaken by the Stonegate Pub Company.

An oversized brass chandelier and gilded framed mirrors must have wolfed a fair share of the funds, with the many plasma screens showing sports gobbling up another chunk.

Grey painted walls with matching tongue-and-groove panelling also help the décor along.

A steady stream of students came in the broad entrance when I was there, probably for its music (Adele was belting out), low-cost drinks and the uber-low food prices, some with a drink thrown in.

The Pub Favourites menu offers rock bottom-priced meals for two for under £7.

You can have cheese and bacon burgers or lasagne, while also in this range is Pasta Primavera, a no-meat tagliatelle with asparagus, peas and broad beans.

Light Bites include nachos, onion rings and chicken wings. Grill choices include gammon steak; traditional mixed grill; roast BBQ half chicken and rump steak. The burger offerings include the Mighty Stack; Vegetable; Chicken Breast andClassic, all with the usual chips, mayo, relish in a sesame seed bun.

Or go for one of the Our Classics, traditional British pies for £5.95 including a drink.

Bloomers, wraps, ciabattas and jackets are all joined at the hip with a drink too, beer included.

Oddly, the All-Day Breakfast has a short day, as all breakfast choices come to a halt at noon.

My choice, one of the very few dishes on the menu that looked as if a modicum of chef skills might be involved, hit a snag.

The Traditional Mixed Grill – 4oz rump steak, 5oz gammon steak, chicken fillet, Cumberland sausage and fried egg with chips, grilled tomato and peas (£7.45) – couldn’t be ordered.

That was because everything bar the rump was missing, according to Chris, my excellent server.

Only the beef remained, so I settled for the rump with chips, peas and onion rings.

The steak came buried under chips and peas with the tomato and onion rings resting on the top.

These rings were some of the best I’ve come across thanks to correct deep fat temperature.

But the chips needed ketchup to help them along and no amount of any of the offered sauces could kick-start the dull tomato.

But the good, tasty beef was cooked medium-rare and a glass of Shiraz was well-chosen by Stonegate’s masters.

There are 2-for-1 desserts at £4.15 (two desserts have to be bought at the same time, you only pay for the higher-priced one).

Maggie Hewlett, the manager, knows how to train her staff well.

Chris and Laura, my two encountered servers, both excelled themselves.

From the impressive, genuine welcome to noticing small things and putting them right without being asked, they have skills to celebrate.

The Fleet is a welcoming place which works if you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful outing.

My bill came to just over £14, not including the tip.

The Fleet, King Henry Street, Portsmouth, PO1 2PT. (023) 9283 0150.

Open 11am–11pm all week (1am on Fri and Sat)

Disabled access: Steps up to the pub.

How to get there: Turn off at the Guildhall signs from Winston Churchill Avenue. The pub is around the corner from the New Theatre Royal. Parking is on the street.

Ratings (maximum *****)

FOOD ***