Melody’s, a coffee shop-cum-takeaway, opened its doors this year on Southsea’s iconic Albert Road strip.
This is now home to a remarkable number of non-corporate businesses, a lively shopping experience which is denied to so many in the majority of UK towns and cities and something that Mary Portas and others are keen to change.
Those who run Chichester seem hell-bent on ensuring only the multiples gain access to the main shopping streets.
But Southsea! Now, that’s a different kettle of fish. Bravo to those brave, intrepid entrepreneurs who take over these small shops to engender a livelihood and breathe life into the community.
Melody’s is a simple neighbourhood café with a modicum of style including grey tongue and groove panelling and black and white tiles behind the counter with musical notes inscribed on them.
But the style stops there. The food is disappointing. Jacket potatoes (yawn), baguettes, paninis, soup, quiches, hand-cut sandwiches, waffles, Danish pastries, cakes, coffee, tea and soft drinks.
There is also a ‘Sit Down Menu’. You still order at the counter as you would a takeaway, but prices differ for takeaways. The SDM’s pricing is all at £4.50 which also includes an unspecified meat, cheese and ploughman’s with home-made coleslaw, bread and pickle.
I had the soup, a minestrone, which comes with a baguette. ‘White or brown?’ ‘White please.’ Despite being the only customer in the place, I get brown alongside a vast bowl of chunky soup chock-a-block with carrots, celery and some other indistinguishable large cubes of vegetables which have been cooked to death. It’s a bland soup only slightly saved by the tomato content.
No Italian would have recognised or cared for this carelessly thrown-together version, particularly the few strands of overcooked spaghetti or the unbalance of vegetables and starch. Borlotti beans, rice, potato and pasta are all used in this king of soups. This may have been a big portion, but it was tiny in taste. I left most of it.
But not two small croissants, one filled with tuna, the other with egg. These fresh, well-formed flaky, quality croissants raised the pulse as did a pleasant slice of Bakewell pudding, the amount of almond essence the only problem. Other sweet items include waffles, a Victoria sponge oozing enough whipped cream to satisfy the largest appetite and other vast cream slices.
Melody’s is managed by no-nonsense staff who greet all by name as the space starts to fill up. There’s a real neighbourhood meeting place feel to the bright spick ’n’ span café, yet another independent addition to this effervescent street.
It’s just a pity the unimaginative menu doesn’t lift the spirits to a higher note. My bill was £9.
126 Albert Road
Southsea PO2 0JS
Open 8am–4pm Mon–Sat
Disabled access: good. Spacious interior.
How to get there: Albert Road, the centre of Southsea, is easily accessed via Victoria Roads north and south and Elm Grove. Melody’s is past the King’s Theatre on the left going east. On-street parking.