Carol Godsmark reviews: Slug and Lettuce, Southsea

Slug and Lettuce, Southsea.
Slug and Lettuce, Southsea.
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The Slug and Lettuce has been in re-invention mood at Southsea. The refurbished bar and restaurant has now been uncovered in all its bling glory.

The designer’s brief seems to have been ‘get the girls in, the girls who like pink and diamonds!’ If so, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. The place is a magnet for those girly nights out with 2-4-1 cocktails to match.

But back to the reason why this brand might attract the girls. Pink back wall; pink down-lighters behind silver-grey outsized mirrors; glitzy, diamond-like box chandeliers; bar to ceiling mirror behind the bar.

Two large TV screens dominate. Pop plays. It’s more nightclub boudoir than user-friendly day and evening bar. Why anyone would want to come during the day is questionable.

The menu is the usual high street chain food which the poorly-spelled website describes as seasonal, excellent fresh produce at its peak.

There are nibbles (including chicken wings and breaded mushrooms); sharing platters (including chicken-tastic); sandwiches and wraps (BBQ chicken, cheese and bacon, tuna melt and more); salads (three of the four are chicken); pasta; tostadas; curries (chicken tikka, Goan vegetables and more); mains (beef pie, sausages, cottage pie, racks, five chicken dishes, fish and others); burgers (including two chicken, lamb, beef); under 500 calories (two chicken, aubergine and tomato bake); desserts (unseasonal ones such as crumble, plus sticky toffee pudding, chocolate tart and others). Most dishes are about £8. Sandwiches mostly £6.25. Desserts all at £4.95.

Where is the seasonal? And why all those chicken dishes ? It’s a long yet narrow menu with, I suspect, little cooking involved.

My starter in the nibbles section was calamari with a sweet chilli dip. They were deep-fried in too low a temperature and were greasy. An elderly salad garnish didn’t impress.

The same elderliness returned in a ‘house salad’ which came with a chicken and pepper skewer. Billed as plum tomatoes, chilli-spiced coleslaw, French dressing, spring onion, pomegranate seeds, edamame beans and coriander, the plum tomatoes were poor, cheap, unripe non-plum ones and there was no coleslaw, coriander or dressing.

The other ingredients were there. The pink pomegranate seeds were inedible. The skewered chicken was fine as were the onions and yellow peppers. Indigestible green peppers didn’t add to the mix though. There was no taste of the billed lemon or olive oil marinade.

The best thing was the service, although I lost count of how many times I was asked if everything was all right – tiresome corporate training.

Getting the bill took a while. As the story goes, a waiter’s epitaph written on his grave bore the inscription: ‘God finally caught his eye’.

No doubt the place heaves nightly thanks to this makeover, but I remain unmoved by the décor and the food which I found as unseasonal and un-fresh as it can get with limited cooking skills involved.

The unimaginative, bog-standard catch-all menu is a depressing case of the might of the chain taking over. It’s all about looks, not substance.

My bill came to £13.30, not including a tip but including a bottle of sparkling water.


Slug and Lettuce, Palmerston Road, Southsea, PO5 3PT

(023) 92 86 3981.

Open Mon-Thurs: 10am – 12 pm. Fri-Sat: 8 am – 1 am. Sun: 8 – 11 pm.

FOOD Two stars (out of Five)

SERVICE Three stars (out of Five)

ATMOSPHERE Two stars (out of Five)

Disabled access: Disabled toilet downstairs, everyone else up a narrow staircase to the first floor.

How to get there: Palmerston Road, now pedestrianised, is off Clarence Parade on the seafront. Park here and walk up, the bar is on the left close to the Osborne Road end.