Pie & Vinyl opened its eccentric doors three months ago on Southsea’s Castle Road. The tiny business sells literally what its title says – pies and vinyl.
And that’s about it. Oh, and Portsmouth Tea. More about that later, but let’s not divert from the main course, the shop-cum-restaurant.
Opposite a tattoo shop decorated with Hades-like flames and a chocolate business, Pie & Vinyl is home to secondhand furniture favoured by our grandmothers and their mothers. Large tasselled lamps, tiny chairs in need of re-upholstering around six tables are the sum of its parts in the café bit of the business, a bar-cum-kitchen and the record room beyond.
Walls are awash with gig posters, from The Pixies and The Strokes to Destroyer and PJ Harvey. As for the vinyl, think 2012, not vintage years. It’s making a comeback and all those on sale cater for the trend to revert to the turntable over the CD.
The young owners have scoured the area for solid old suitcases and trunks, the collection viewed in quirky shelving. There are a few reconditioned hi-fi turntables and related equipment to buy too, but the vinyl’s the thing here.
So what of the food? Is it more than just pies? No, not really. But the choice, like the vinyl, is vast. from Buckwells come steak and Guinness; chicken and ham; ham hock and pea and Scotch, a lamb pie. Pieminister goes down the silly season route by naming its pies Mr Porky Pie; Pietanic (fish, of course); Heidi (goat’s cheese); Matador (steak, chorizo, olives) and Moo Pie (yes, you guessed right, it’s beef).
Drinks include sasparilla, lemon and ginger, dandelion and burdock and blackcurrant and liquorice from Mr Fitzpatrick’s Temperance Cordials and Portsmouth Tea, ‘a proper brew’ from Portsmouth’s All About Tea. Cafetiere coffee comes from Taylors of Harrogate.
A meal deal at £6.50 offers a pie of your choice with creamy mash, gravy or liquor and minty mushy peas. The liquor is another blast from the past, parsley sauce. Or just buy a pie on its own for £3.75.
Service by Steve and Rob, the owners, couldn’t be bettered. It’s charming, polite and focused. I soon had a pot of Portsmouth Tea sporting a homely knitted tea cosy, a china cup and saucer and a spoon extolling the delights of Keswick complete with picture.
The individual pastry pie, a Buckwells Scotch one, was flavoursome as was the mash and liquor, the minty peas pleasing some but overwhelming this diner by the over-the-top mintiness.
Value for money? Oh yes. The menu is do-able for this space and climate, the tea a lovely brew. I finished with a bought-in cake from Havant, a chocolate and beetroot one another demonstration of quirkiness at Pie & Vinyl. But not one that I’d choose to repeat thanks to cheap icing.
Music, of course, plays but it’s not of the alienating kind. Magazines and papers are available too to while away the time spent in this laidback, charming, commendable new place, its emphasis on local food and music for local people – and those outsiders lucky enough to discover it.
Castle Road is one of the city’s havens from overt commercialisation and branding, its disparate, distinct shops and cafes ones to celebrate and support. Pie & Vinyl is a good addition to the mix and you’ll be charmed too. My bill came to just under £10.
Pie & Vinyl, 61 Castle Road, Southsea PO5 AY.
For more information, go to pieandvinyl.co.uk
Food: Three (out of Five)
Disabled access: Not really suitable for wheelchairs, the loo’s tiny and cramped.
How to get there: Castle Road is between Western Parade and Elm Grove, the café halfway down. On-street parking