The Corner Café opened its tiny, black, narrow street corner doors recently near the University of Portsmouth.
The building was partly demolished to be transformed into a charmingly natty new addition to the area.
Seating around 25, the interior has been decked out in pale grey-green tongue and groove panelling. A wall, painted with ‘coffee, café, caffè’ in many languages including Russian, Hindi, Greek, Vietnamese and Italian, points to the owners’ detail for smartness.
Those in charge of the independent café have not only chosen to celebrate all manner of events including Wimbledon (there’s a special strawberry dessert), Father’s Day, Armed Forces Day and Portsmouth University Open Day (July 10). There’s also the homemade, easy food route, judging by the specials board with its homemade tomato soup; homemade pasta with rich meatballs and tomato sauce; creamy chicken and mushroom with chive mash; warm chicken and chorizo salad; risotto with chorizo and Parmesan with rocket salad.
There are breakfast and brunch dishes; light bites (croque monsieur, madame, omelettes, cheese platter); paninis, toasties, baguettes and sandwiches; salads (caesar, Greek, mediterranean, tuna) and mains including homemade burgers and the Corner Café Club Special, three layers of lightly-toasted bread with mayo, warm, sliced chicken breast, streaky bacon, vine tomatoes, lettuce and mozzarella - my choice at £6.25. Prices start at £3.95, most around the £6-£7 mark, apart from the sandwiches and other bread-led choices.
There are plenty of coffees from a proper espresso machine; Tea Pigs tea; iced drinks; ice cream milkshakes plus wines from Chile, Italy, Spain and France plus beers and spirits.
The club special lived up to its billing. The good-value, quality ingredients were spilling over the bread. The entire contents were impressive due to the excellent moist chicken and bacon, while the sparing use of mayonnaise was pleasing.
The crispy salad and good, chunky chips came with this very filling dish. A mug of Tea Pig Earl Grey was my choice of drink.
The Corner Café seems to specialise in cake-making, a real cornucopia of luscious offerings tapping into this wildly enthusiastic cake nation’s desires.
There’s a triple chocolate and Nutella cake joining a summer fruits cheesecake dripping with glistening strawberries. These and others were displayed in the cabinet by the bar – only the muffins hadn’t made it freshly from the tiny kitchen beyond. The chocolate cake suffered a tad from yesterday’s bake and was a little dried out, but the good, moreish icing added some lubrication.
In this day and age of prime site corporate grub grab, The Corner Café is a highly welcome, well-run and pleasing addition.
Granted, it isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel but it certainly tries to please from all sides of the hospitality world.
Homemade food is brought in over microwaved stuff. There’s a caring professional, proactive table-served manner and it’s a comfortable, well-run premises. I wish them luck to beat the giant corporate odds.
My bill came to £11.25, not including a tip.
The Corner Café, 1 Landport Terrace, Portsmouth PO1 3TZ (023) 9248 3125.
Open: Mon-Wed 8am–8pm, Thur-Fri 8am–10pm, Sat 9am–10pm, Sun 10am–3pm.
FOOD Four stars (out of Five)
SERVICE Four stars (out of Five)
ATMOSPHERE Four stars (out of Five)
Disabled access: Narrow entrance may be tricky for wheelchairs.
How to get there: Landport Terrace is a continuation of Hampshire Terrace. The café is on the corner on the left. Parking is on- street.