This bistro/bar may not be the first port of call for a lunch or dinner, unless you’re visiting the marina for boating purposes.
But it’s a shame because it’s a bright and airy space that’s within spitting distance of the Solent.
The bar is a welcoming semi-circular area complete with brown bucket seating and lounging brown sofas. Or you can sit in the bistro, which has many windows glimpsing the marina. There’s cobalt blue painted tongue and groove panelling, which forms part of the space.
Inside there are lots of nautical pictures, which unsurprisingly decorate the cream walls. There are also smart sepia unframed photos, with close-ups of ropes, an anchor and rigging mates.
Baguettes – sausage or bacon, with or without egg – for breakfast can kick off the day after 11am. More baguettes, filled with chicken, chorizo, smoked cheddar and tomato are lunch offerings, alongside soup of the day, which was curried parsnip when I visited.
Or you can choose from fillings such as roast beef, watercress and horseradish, fish fingers and tartare sauce. Prices range from £3 to £4.95.
There’s the Hardy’s homemade burger of the day with chips or salad, shredded duck leg in black bean sauce, baked Camembert with rosemary and garlic bread crumbs, chicken live parfait or char grilled chicken.
Other dishes include homemade fish cakes with chips and salad, homemade lasagne with garlic bread, sustainable caught fish fashioned into a pie, honey glazed duck breast and pan fried steak. Or go down the pasta route with roasted red pepper, spinach and pine nut tagliatelle, with or without chicken.
This nicely rounded menu is in tune with today’s tried and tested choices with a sprinkling of sophistication. There’s nothing to startle, but the menu is designed to attract a wider audience as well as those mariners.
The bitterly cold day demanded soup in the less-than-warm restaurant, and it was a pleasing bowlful of parsnip soup. It needed good stock depth to give its full potential, but it was welcomingly hot.
My main course choice were the fish cakes, a mix of ‘cod and salmon’ said a staff member. Served with excellent skin-on hand-cut chips and a well-dressed salad, the fish cakes were packed with piscine content and a good dose of seasoned mash. They were encased in terrifically crunchy panko bread crumbs. At £6.50 they were pleasing, although the cakes also turned up as a starter.
The small wine list is as balanced and as well-chosen as the menu. A very good glass of house white, Le Pionnier, a French Sauvignon Blanc, was light with a pleasing body (£3 for a 175ml glass).
Those in a sweet-toothed mood may contemplate the warming winter desserts with homemade chocolate brownies with ice-cream, and spotted dick heading the small but well-formed list.
The owners, who took over the business last March, seem to have cracked it.
Haslar Marine boat-owners and businesses within the marina will hopefully take to heart this well-run gem in their midst. Others further afield can also take advantage of Hardy’s.
Just add some heating and wi-fi to the mix and this diner could be even more fulsome.
My bill came to £12 not including the service.
Hardy’s at Haslar, Haslar Marina, Haslar Road, Gosport, PO12 1NU,
(023) 9258 8810,
Open seven days a week from 11am until 11pm.
Disabled access: Fine.
How to get there: Take the A32 from the M27 to Gosport and follow the road to the centre of town. Turn off onto Haslar Road. Go up the marina barrier, indicate you’re going to Hardy’s and park in the large car park. It’s in the centre of a small warren of marina buildings.
FOOD: Four stars (out of five)
SERVICE: Four stars
ATMOSPHERE: Four stars