Roosters Piri Piri is a new kid on the block (newish in these parts) and opened in Gunwharf Quays six weeks ago. The 10-year-old mainly franchised business started its life mostly in London suburbs.
Just below the Spinnaker Tower, hard by other fast food joints, is this newcomer, and it’s a bright, vibrant, sassy and shiny looker.
It’s cool thanks to its deep sea blue alcove lighting, green and white chairs, white tables made of man-made filestone from Spain and blue banquettes within the cleverly designed space. There’s also an outdoor area with light green seating.
The menu with the slogan Changing Fast Food For Good is billed as a model of healthy eating, which is the chain’s focus after ditching fried for steamed and grilled.
They’ve seen the writing on the wall about poor-quality fast food and jumped on the health bandwagon to fill that huge gap in the market. But is it just more meaningless hype?
You can either order at the smart bar till or sit at one of the tables for service. The menu is divided into satays; pittas and wraps; grilled platters; burgers and specials. Most involve chicken in some form – wings; strips; breasts; quarter or whole chicken, either with piri piri (lemon & herb, medium hot and extra hot); Mexican or Lebanese spicing.
There are also dips (tzatziki, guacamole, chilli and others); sides (fragrant rice, fattoush salad, olives, wedges, fries, corn on the cob). There is also prawn; beef; falafels; lamb kebabs; grilled halloumi and grilled vegetables.
Pricing? Low. A satay from £1.99, a wrap £4.99, dips 50p, Piri Piri from £2.19, burgers from £4.49 and sides from £1.19. Yes, but what about the quality, you rightly ask, if the food is at these bargain basement prices?
I shared the following – Mexican chicken satay and a piri prawn satay, spicy lamb kebab, a quarter chicken with lemon and herb sauce, wedges, rice and houmous and fattoush salad.
The large wrap kebab was moreish, but it was a pity about the smear of non-essential mayonnaise. The satay wings and prawns were succulent thanks to good cooking practices and sauces, and the same for one of the best quarter chicken portions I’ve ever encountered. Terrific tasty stuff.
The houmous was fine, as were superior wedges, but the rice was a little lacklustre as was the small salad. Its ingredients were cheap and tasteless, chip-like packet fattoush over real Levantine or pitta bread.
It’s all served either on smart lookalike slate, but more user-friendly, or in small white bowls. Real cutlery is a given over throwaway.
The good pricing and food doesn’t stop there. Desserts come in two guises: cheesecake bites (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla) and Italian ice cream start at £1.69 for three small cheesecakes and one ice cream scoop of nine differing flavours, including hazelnut and chocolate, coconut and toffee.
The team has chosen wisely with these American cheesecake imports, all three impressive.
For once, I can put hand on heart and extol the virtues of fast food and Rooster Piri Piri’s ethos. The slogan, Changing Fast Food For Good, is not PR puff - for once.
The meal, enough for three for lunch, came to just over £20 including water.
Roosters Piri Piri, Unit R13, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, PO1 3TZ.
(023)9286 5688, Open all week from 11am to 11pm.
Disabled access: Great as it’s all flat.
How to get there:
Follow the brown tourist signs to Gunwharf Quays and park in the vast car park. Head for the Spinnaker Tower and look right for the restaurant.
Ratings (maximum *****)