Monday, 1 November 2010

Jamie Oliver coming to Gunwharf Quays

I hear on the grapevine that Jamie is planning to open one of his restaurants in the late spring at our GWQ!  It will be situated in the current Donnay sports shop unit, which is quite a large unit.  I'm looking forward to it, the more good restaurants in town we have the better.  Some folk are worried about the business it will take away from areas such as Osbourne Road, but if your restaurant delivers good food and a good atmosphere, then surely this is just healthy competition?!

Oh this space I say and bring it on!!!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Heston at Waitrose Marmion Road

I have been dying to try out this new range since I read about it back in the summer and it has arrived!  Granted our local store does not have the full range, but there is enough to get started on.  I purchased this week the Cabernet Sauvignon Mayonnaise (£2.25) and the spinach and 3 mushroom pie, and the ham, leek and chicken pie (£2.50 ish each).  There are also available in our store the salts.  There will be more to come from this range I'm told in time.  The mayo with chips and steak was really good.  The pies were ok, but how posh can a pie actually become?

Worth a try thought I would say, especially now as there is for a limited period 25% of the full price!

I was drinking in Hestons pub in Bray yesterday and they had crunchy roast potatoes in bowls on the bar as snacks (great idea!) - wish I had taken the Mayo with me now!!!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Strada this Friday only BOGOF!

Wow - those BOGOF meal deals rarely cover Friday or Saturday nights, but Strada are offering this deal this Friday only!  Visit their website for more details.  I have not been here for some time so this is as good a time than any to take advantage!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Steki - Osbourne Road

This is one of those places that has been on my mind to try for ages, but just never got around to it!

What a busy place!!  I called and booked ahead luckily as I don't think I would have got a table for my required time otherwise.  The interior and the music set the scene well, just as you would expect from a Greek Taverna.

I went mad on the starter and ordered the Steki seafood meze.  At £20 to share between two I was expecting something special - and it did not disappoint!  The dish comprised of octopus, anchovies, prawns, calamari, muscles in a tomato sauce with melted feta cheese, hummus, pita bread and a few olives.  Probably the best seafood dish I have ever had in Portsmouth.  So fresh and tasty I would order this over and over.  I had read on Trip Advisor a review from a Greek person who said that the pita breads were totally authentic, and although personally I have not been to Greece (yet), they were amazing!!!  The only thing I think they could change was that the calamari was slightly greasy to taste and the batter struggled to stay attached to the squid.  This could be so easily corrected.

Mains we opted for the classic Moussaka - refreshingly made with beef and not lamb, and a dish called soutzoukakia which is little (sausage-looking) meatballs made of a delicate mixture of minced beef, onions and herbs, cooked in tomato sauce, served with rice and Greek style potatoes.  The latter dish was also served with rice which we felt was too much with the potatoes, but was a very tasty dish!  The moussaka too was good, although I would have liked more beef and less bechamel in mine.  Both these dishes we would order again.

Service too was good, especially as they were busy with some customers just walking in off the street.  Our waitress was a lovely charming American lady, who was very helpful.

Total bill including a mineral water and beer was around £43.00. 
Booking at weekends probably advisable

Would I go again - Yes, but it would be hard not to partake in the seafood meze and pitta bread which stole the show!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Blue Mondays at Yo! Sushi

It has finally arrived, Blue Mondays at Yo!  As much as I love this place and have eaten a couple of times at the GWQ branch, I do find by the time you have had a decent amount of dishes you come out a little light in the pocket.

Blue Mondays afford the diner a choice of up to 50 dishes (subject to availability obviously, but availability I found was not bad), for a price of £2.20 per dish, whereas their two most expensive dishes come in at £3.80 and £5.00 each, so it is really worth making a trip there on  Mondays.  You can still order a few hot rice/noodle dishes and vegetable hand rolls with this offer too!

So if your still a 'sushi virgin' as their promotion goes, give blue Mondays a go, then if it's not for you, you wont have spent a fortune!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Southsea Common Art Exhibit and free Hog Roast

Portsmouth and Southsea’s skyline will be transformed this summer by the spectacular addition of Luna Park, Heather & Ivan Morison’s recreation of the accidental dinosaur Ultrasauros. Created in the style of American roadside super-sculptures and standing at 16 metres tall on Southsea Common, Luna Park will be visible from miles around.

Grand Opening: Sunday 1 August (exhibiting until 10 October)

There will be a free BBQ (hog roast) at Southsea Common 1-3pm, followed by drinks at aspex 3-5pm!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Port Solent Open Kitchen Event

This event was open to the public last Friday, Saturday and Sunday  (see my previous post on blog), and as a foodie fan of our local restaurants and all things food related I put my name down to attend 3 of the free one hour long sessions: Pizza demonstration at O Sole Mio, Wine tasting at the Water Margin and a tasting of Dim Sum at the Dragon Marina.
 On the Friday 3 out of the maximum of 5 were in attendance at O Sole Mio.  They had in store for us a pizza making demonstration where the chef explained the components and tips to making a traditional Italian pizza. Obviously techniques and ingredients vary from place to place, but there version was certainly tasty and cooked in a pizza oven too.  I am planning on trying this recipe myself this weekend.
Saturday 11am was wine tasting at the Water Margin with a  French speaking sommelier named Michael.  In an hour he managed to do a very good basic explanation and Introduction to wine tasting and what to look for.  Everyone in attendance seem to thoroughly enjoy it, and Michael despite your concerns on the language barrier you did an excellent job, we all came away with a little more knowledge.

The Dim Sum tasting session was also well supported, and they had us hands on making Dim Sum ourselves.  We then all sat down to 3 varieties of Chinese tea and they handed out information about the history of Dim Sum itself which then followed a small banquet of several different Dim Sum for us to taste all compliments of the restaurant!

I found out about this event via a resident of Port Solent, but nobody else I had spoken to prior to the event had heard about it!  Was this an intentional move to keep the publicity to a minimum due to limited spaces I wonder?
Overall it was a really great event and a superb idea, so if you missed out hopefully it will be back again next year!!!!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Port Solent Open Kitchen Events 16-18th July 2010

Port Solent are holding a three day event which promises several of their top chefs inviting members of the public backstage for an intimate demonstration of how their signature dishes are created, whilst an expert sommelier and local brewer drop by to perform some wonderful wine and beer tasting sessions. There will be family entertainment throughout the day.

The events are due to take place between the 16th and 18th of July and places must be booked in advance.
for more information visit:

See you there!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Gunwharf Quays Food, Family Fun & Real Ale Festival

This years event took place over 3 days starting Friday 2nd July with guest Raymond Blanc opening the proceedings.  This is the 6th year this event has taken place now which is good to see it still going strong.

The Food Theatre featured guest chefs cooking in a purpose built kitchen. The kitchen was located in the centre area this time, rather than last year which was over by Raymond's Restaurant.  This hopefully was done to attract more visitors to the demonstrations.  The event also boasted a 40 cask real ale marquee with Wimbledon inspired Champagne and Strawberries, and lots of local food stalls, an Italian Market and a new family area.

Personally I didn't spend too much time looking around all the stores this year, so I can't comment on how good it all was.  I went for one purpose only - to meet the legendary 2 Michelin star chef himself Raymond Blanc OBE, and what a thoroughly nice man.  He hobbled over on his crutches to have a good old chat with me and my friend, which was a real pleasure.  With the crutches and beard he's now sporting I think it took people a while to realise it was him standing talking with us!

All of the main theatre events could be reserved via a 'New for 2010 exclusive VIP packages' which were to include:

Gold Package - £40 per person 10am - 5pm
On arrival half bottle of champagne, Canapes throughout the day from Brasserie Blanc, Front row seats to see Raymond Blanc (Friday) or Richard Fox (Sunday), Entry to the Real Ale Marquee, Ticket to Spinnaker Tower, Bag drop area, all day free car parking, 2 x 20 minute rib rides around the Solent, cash bar, goody bag, souvenir programme, plasma TVs showing Wimbledon finals.


Silver Package - £25 per person 10am - 2pm/1:30pm - 5pm
On arrival glass of champagne, Canapes throughout the day from Brasserie Blanc, Reserved seats to see Raymond Blanc (Friday) or Richard Fox (Sunday), Entry to the Real Ale Marquee, Ticket to Spinnaker Tower, Bag drop area, 2 hours free car parking, 1 x 20 minute rib rides around the Solent, Cash bar, Goody bag, Souvenir programme, Plasma TVs showing Wimbledon finals.

Were the tickets value for money, and did many people purchase these tickets i would love to know?  I know one gentleman who sat behind us who had been given the gold package as a gift who was a little unhappy as his first rib ride never showed up, and his guaranteed front seat to see Raymond Blanc was just not guaranteed and he had to sit in the row behind us, and we had not paid a bean to see him!  I felt a little sorry for him, as the organisation did not seem to run too smoothly.  I am yet to ask him how the rest of his package went (as he just so happens to be a neighbour!)
Still, I'm looking forward to it again next year, please make it bigger and better than ever, as i would hate it to disappear like other foodie events do!  As a customer I would love to give some input on what would be good to see next year, so please ask your public GWQ!!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Southsea Food Festival 2010

It is a good idea to showcase the best of what our local area has, but sadly I feel this event does not live up to it's potential.  I popped down on Sunday to have a look at this years Southsea food festival, and thought it was pretty much the same as last years, in terms of size and content, which in my view was very average then too.

I can't say I spent too much time here this year as on Saturday I went up to London to visit a Taste of London food festival in Regents Park, so was a little tired, but boy we could really learn a thing or two from that event.

What would be really nice to see is more local restaurants getting involved, showcasing the best they have, because really Portsmouth has some good restaurants from all corners of the earth.

Having chatted to a couple of local restaurant owners, they feel the event is somewhat tacky, and lacking in substance, so perhaps this is how many of them feel, and hence don't support it?

I think a fresh new look at  this is event would help. 

A taste of London is a perfect example of how local restaurants can make this work.  Each of the restaurants had a stand with 3 to 4 dishes listed on a menu, which you go up to and choose what you like and pay with a currency of paper crowns.  Something like this on a smaller scale would be perfect. 

There was last year a Thai food event on Castle Fields which was brilliant in comparison to the Southsea food festival, with lots and lots of food stalls, cooking all yummy Thai cuisine, thus proving that it can be done! 

With the closure of Love Albert Road Day, there is all the more reason to put more energy into the Southsea Food Festival in years to come.

What did anyone else think of this years event?

Don't forget to check out at Gunwharf Quays the Food, Family Fun & Real Ale Festival July 2nd - July 4th 2010


Sunday, 6 June 2010

Old Portsmouth Fish Markets

Monday, 31 May 2010

Old Portsmouth Fish Markets

I only recently discovered that there was another fish market (I'm a little embarrassed to say) besides Viviers at Camber Quay, and it is located very close to it. I am referring to Johnson's at the End of East street also in Old Portsmouth. So when I visited for the first time a few weeks back I was pleasantly surprised! It really looks the part in here, everything well laid out and the staff are amazingly helpful and friendly. I've never particularly enjoyed the experience of purchasing fish at Vivers, so it was a dream to find the other place.

Last week I overheard someone saying that one of these places had squid on 'special offer', and as I was planing on making a squid dish that very weekend so I hot footed it down there. Turned out to be Viviers who had the offer. So the next day I prepared my bargain squid and cooked it only to bite into it and realise it was way past it's best, hard and almost stale like. I don't take risks with seafood so sadly it went in the bin! This and the poorish service I have received in Viviers has now made me a Johnson's girl!

Does anyone else have a favourite? Are you a Viviers or Johnson's fan!!!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Relentless Steak & Lobster House, Elm Grove, Southsea

New restaurant in town 'Relentless' is a Lobster and Steak House offering freshly cooked seafood caught daily from it's own fishing boats and sourcing it's meat from Buckwells. Any restaurant selling itself on good quality fish and meat is a winner in my book. Having picked up one of their flyer's which has adorned my fridge for the last couple of weeks with a beautiful looking thick sirloin steak on the picture, I couldn't resist any more!!

On arrival we were immediately asked if we would like appetisers, which were a choice of snails or asparagus with hollandaise or bread and olives. We had a quick scan down the starters and decided to skip them, but instead to go for the appetisers of snails and the asparagus. They were a really decent size served on large plates, and we were glad we had not ordered starters too.  Both dishes were prepared well and the asparagus as it is currently in season was huge! It was not made clear if the appetisers were complementary or not. They turned out to be priced around the £3 mark.

The choice of starters and mains were very good, something for everyone including vegetarians. As we couldn't decide on fish or meat we both ordered the surf and turf option of half a lobster and rump steak at £24 each.  This being the most expensive dish on the menu, but a fair price for both lobster and steak I think. The waiter gave me the choice of going up to the tank and actually fishing out my own lobster which all adds to the fun of eating out.  The food is cooked in an 'open kitchen' but from were we were seated it was hard to see anything.  On arrival of the mains the plates were huge with a really good size steak and served with green beans, flat mushrooms, tomatoes and a portion of home cooked chips.  Even those with big appetite's would have been satisfied.

I had a little room for dessert so opted to share a portion of orange cheesecake which appeared to also be home made too.  Nice and rich in the right way, a good finish to the meal.
General comments I have heard from others who have eaten here tend to be that Relentless is good value for money - and I would agree.  My only request  to you is please don't compromise on quality and portion size for profit like so many restaurants often do,  as this may be why many will return in future.
Only thing we didn't like was being sat by the window next to the open front door (although it has been said that's where restaurants seat the good looking people - LOL), and with the door propped open most of the night, I presume due to ventilation issues in the kitchen area,  this made it feel as if we were dining on Elm grove with the smokers and passers by.
Would I recommend?  Yes. Top tip: Try and get a table in the cosy alcove at the back of the restaurant if your booking ahead.

Would I Go again? Yes, and I wish Scott Matthews and his team every success for the future. 


Monday, 24 May 2010

Manna - High Street, Old Portsmouth

I drove past this Tea Room and noticed it had changed.  I'm not sure when this happened, but I liked what I saw and decided to pay a visit for breakfast. The decor has been well thought out, bright, inviting, and sophisticated.  A great addition to Portsmouth.

The breakfast menu I thought was somewhat lacking in options.  Personally I would have liked to have seen things such as poached eggs on toast, bagels or maybe even a smoked salmon option.  This cafe could carry off these kind of chic choices, but the menu was limited to 3 or 4 options.  We ordered 2 full English breakfast's which were ok, but nothing on the plate stood out in terms of quality considering the produce is all locally sourced -(Buckwells, Mislingford Farm). 

Would I go again?  Yes, but not for breakfast, maybe for afternoon tea and cake, as this seems to be their speciality.  A few small hiccups with the service, and no sign of salt or pepper on any tables (even when we asked for it, it never came), which was a shame.

Would I recommend?  Yes, give it a go.  Hopefully the breakfast menu changes from time to time, and it is a great contemporary environment which will hopefully thrive.  More good looking tea rooms/cafes in our area would be fantastic!!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

10th Hampshire Food Festival - July 2010

It's always good when there's foodie events in the local area, so was excited to receive an e-mail from Hampshire Fare outlining the events to be held this July.  They are boasting the likes of Raymond Blanc, James Martin, Atul Kochhar, Ed Baines, John Burton Race, Alex Aitken and Rose Elliot are all taking part in the 10th Hampshire Food Festival throughout July (1st-31st), celebrating food and drink produced here in Hampshire.  This is the pick of what is happening local to us this year:

Southsea Food Festival (19/20 JUNE...not July then...?)
GWQ Food and Real Ale Festival (2-4 July)
Family Chocolate Workshops (17 July Rowlands Castle)
Northney Farm Open Day (18 July Hayling Island)
Hampshire Water Festival (24-25 July Staunton Country Park, Havant)

I have to say I'm disappointed in the about of events happening on our doorstep.   For such a densely populated area, surely we can produce more than this?  It appears Winchester is the place to be, with a lot more variety of events.  I recall looking at this programme last year too and feeling somewhat underwhelmed at the choices.  Having said that I will certainly be popping along to the first two events.  Raymond Himself is due to be appearing at GWQ on the Friday I read somewhere else, so I'm not sure if this is a 2 or 3 day event?

Anyway here's the link:
If you're happy to travel a bit further then there are lots of things to try out.  I'd love to hear if any good experiences were had during previous years, and at what events. 

Both the Emsworth and Staunton Country Park food festivals have been axed, Even the one held last year in Brighon is no longer!  What's happening to our food festivals???

So come on Portsmouth there is so much to offer - let's see a little more events happening here next year please!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Yo! Sushi for lunch

People have mixed views about Yo! Sushi, but as it's recently opened at Gun Wharf  it seemed rude not to give this branch a try.  We arrived at 1.15pm to be told that they were not fully stocked on the belt and to return again in half an hour!  Most people I speak to make noise about Yo! Sushi's high prices and the fact they don't like eating raw food!  Both statements have a level of truth, but for many who are regulars I think the uniqueness of the set up and the quality of food is what keeps people coming back.  On all previous occasions of eating in a Yo! Sushi I've opted for just eating items from the belt, but today I ordered from the menu too.  We ordered Chicken Yakisoba noodles and a Seafood Rice dish and was not disappointed.  These hot dishes are the same price as some of the dishes that come straight off the belt but with a lot more substance, so I was glad we sampled these dishes and they were both filling too.  Some other dishes sampled today were Vegetable Tempura, Endame beans & Kaiso Salad.  My Bill £23.70 for 2 people with a total of 8 dishes and 1 glass of water.

I did sign up a couple of months ago to the Yo! Love Club for news and promotions, but as yet have not received any correspondence.

The Manager told me today that in a couple of months time once they have found their feet they will be introducing their 'Blue Monday' promotion to the branch where dishes are all £2.20 which many will look forward to(including myself), because as much as I love the quirkiness and speed which you can eat at Yo! Sushi, I always come out feeling rather light in the pocket department.

What does everyone else think?  It was amusing to see lots intrigued faces pressed up against the glass every few minutes.  This is the closest I'm likely to ever know how animals in zoo's feel - LOL!!!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Gordon Ramsay Bamix

I have been after a new blender/food processor/whisk for some time now as gradually the individual ones I had seem to give up the ghost after a year or so.  My food processor was too bulky and was taking up too much work space in my kitchen also, so when a vital plastic part sheered off, it was finally time to shop about.

Completely by accident I came across the Bamix on a shopping channel.  It claimed in the infomercial that it can do almost everything a large food processor can do - and it does it in any receptacle, even in a pot on the stove. It mixes, purées, emulsifies, aerates, chops, grinds etc.. It works extremely small but also large quantities. With more than 11 million units sold in all 5 continents, they claim it is certainly the most successful kitchen machine of its kind.

At a cost of £120 it is by no means cheap, but the item comes with a 10 year warranty, so I thought I would give it a whirl.  Gordon Ramsay is not the kind of chef to put his name to a product if he is not serious about it, and since purchasing the item I have found out from a chef who has been in his kitchens that he has them at every work station in his restaurant now, so not just empty words.  I have also seen the Bamix used on Saturday Kitchen and in the Professional kitchens in the final episodes of Masterchef.

My verdict: I love it!!! It is extremely handy, amazingly light-weight, requires a minimum of space... and it is cleaned in seconds!  It looks like a hand held blender with various attachments that clip on and off to perform the various functions.  It will turn skimmed milk and a few berries into a wonderful thick shake and I love the whisk for making meringues.

I opted for the Gordon Ramsay version (other models also available) as it came with a small mill for grinding and chopping too. 

It is still early days for me and my Bamix but that aside, I hope I continue to love it just as much for the next 10 years!!  Most independent reviews praise it highly too.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Fire & Stone...The verdict!!

Always looking forward to trying any new eateries in my area, and after an offer on opening night of pizza's for £2 it had to be done!   I'm not a big fan of eating out in pizza establishments but the menu with it's unusual combo's look like it could be worth a shot.  We ordered pizza's from differing continents.  From the 'Americas' menu we had Acapulco & New York, from the 'Asia' menu we had Koh Samui, and from the 'Europe' menu we had the San Sebastian.  Acapulco was the most flavoursome of the 'Americas' with ground chilli beef, jalapenos, red onions and topped with sour cream and guacamole.  New York was a let down we gave it 5 out of 10 as it was bland and rather like an average Domino's pizza.  The Koh Samui was very unusual, all the flavours of Asia we have come to like on a pizza - yellow coconut sauce, red chilli, Thai basil, toasted sesame to name a few.  It was topped with sweet potato cubes which was interesting an unusual and worked, as some of the other pizza's come topped with roasted potatoes and I'm not sure this works on a pizza - makes it somewhat stodgy and carries no real flavour enhancements. 

Service was excellent, you could not tell it was opening night as on the surface from a customer point of view it all seemed to run smoothly. 

Definitely worth a try, especially if you like pizza.  The location is excellent, especially during the long summer nights as it is situated in the part of Gun Wharf that gets the late sun and they have outdoor seating with heat lamps too!  Inside the restaurant looks the part, very well thought out.  I'd not bother with the starters unless you have a huge appetite, as the two we tried were pretty bland - the 'mixed marinated olives' came with Italian bread sticks which were those long thin cheap ones you get in supermarkets - yuck! 

If you enjoy it and want to return then don't miss out on the privilege card that is on offer as it gives you a 15% off A La Carte and a free pizza when you have paid full price for 6.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Fire & Stone Pizza - Gunwharf Quays

This place opens on Monday 19th and look to be doing some amazing first week offers:

Wednesday 21st April - £2 pizzas
Thursday 22nd April - £3 pizzas
Friday 23rd April - £4 pizzas
Saturday 24th April - £5 pizzas
Sunday 25th April - £6 pizzas

Fire & Stone claim to take pizza to an exciting new level with amazing stone-baked pizza made from entirely fresh ingredients, cooked to perfection in a gigantic wood-fired oven.  The combinations of toppings are inspired from five continents.  Sounds the this space for my verdict.  Hopefully I'll be one of the lucky ones who can get the £1 pizza deal via there website - either way I'll be there!!

They only have branches at Covent Garden and Oxford, GWQ being no. 3.  Let's hope it lives up to expectations!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

abarbistro Old Portsmouth

Went here for lunch today  - just fancied something with a bright and spring like atmosphere.  I think this place is fab inside, I love the art work in here - the scenes of Southsea seafront fit this bistro's environment, and the provocotive black and white picture of a lady with a glass of red wine placed on the table in front of her always gets a smile from me. 

A few people braved it to sit outside and also in the sun garden at the rear, but we opted for a table inside.  I really fancied the chips as I could see they were presented in a nice metallic cone and looked really golden.  Looking down at the menu I was initially feeling cautious of what to order due to the fairly high prices of some of the dishes, (I don't know why but I always have a hard time in my mind justifying a large food bill at lunchtimes), but the proof is always in the eating I say.  We ordered between us a cone of chips £3, small moules £6 and a ham doorstep sandwich £4 which are all reasonably priced.  The chips were the best I have ever had in a restaurant (I'm wondering if they use the twice cooked method), moules were beautiful with just the right balance of wine and the lemon perfectly proportioned in the sauce just to lift it correctly, and the ham doorstep too was really good.  So if the rest of the menu is this good, then it really does justify the pricing.  As they are so close to the fish market I would guess that all of their fish dishes would be perfect, and so am looking forward to re-visiting this bistro - only problem is will I be able to draw myself away from ordering the moules and frites!!!

P.s Don't miss out on visiting Camber Wines upstairs if you get a chance.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Ashburton Cookery School

March 2010 I recently attended a 2 day course entitled 'Gastro Plus' which was amazing! Anyone wanting to improve their skills, and pick up tips, then this is just for you. A very professional and well organised school, it is one of the best in the country (so I'm told). My teacher was Chef James Knight-Pacheco who came runner-up with friend Alasdair on the BBC television show ‘The Restaurant’ and was subsequently offered a year long position at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir and has also worked at Gordon Ramsay at Claridges & The Square in Mayfair. This experience really showed through as he gave us lots of 'Michelin' style hints and tips along the way.
The course content included making 2 fish courses for lunch; we made Sea bream fillets with cherry tomato and basil salsa and the other dish was Seabass fillets with poached quails eggs, crispy parma ham and white truffle oil. Not only do you learn to prep and cook the fish, but also how to fillet it! Other fun dishes we made included Gin & Tonic sorbet and Lavender creme brulee. We also made a pork dish on the first day and duck on the second. The courses are designed so that you make the dishes for yourself and then eat them at lunch, and dinner in the late afternoon. This way you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour!

It is quite tiring on your feet for 2 days but the effort is well worth it. I returned home with many recipes under my belt and the confidence to 'experiment' with the dishes and to try different infusions and ingredients. There was knowledge to be gained for all levels of experience and the school offers lots of different courses. The schoold is based in Ashburton, Devon and they also offer accomodation.

Monday, 5 April 2010

New restaurant on the block - Relentless, Elm Grove

Been out today for a walk and discovered a new restaurant on Elm Grove next to Rosie's called 'Relentless'. It is a Steak and Lobster House and the leaflet I picked up explains that the idea is that of cooking locally caught fish and meat to be supplied by Buckwells in an open kitchen! They state they have a fleet of their own fishing boats and what they can't get will come from Brixton fish market to ensure there is no middle man and that the fish is fresh. You can also pick out your own lobster from the tank. So looking forward to trying this at some point.

This building has changed hands a few times, but the building has been totally revamped and looks rather nice.

Yo! Sushi coming soon to Gunwharf

Went to Southampton this week only to discover a new Yo! Sushi in West Quay. The waitress pointed out a man who she told me is the new Manager of the soon to be open restaurant in Gunwharf!!! Yippee!!

Its going to be opposite M&S I'm told and hopefully will be open in a few weeks. I messaged Gunwharf themselves to confirm this which they did and I also asked if there were to be any promotions (as Wagamamma's had one), but they just said watch this space. I'm not holding my breath as the Southampton one didn't have any.

Giraffe - Gunwharf Quays

17 Mar 2010
Really wanted this experience to be great as I have read reviews on this chain restaurant and it was ranked rather high in a respected food magazine. Having arrived I was somewhat disapointed in the menu, not knowing why until I returned home to look at the menu online and saw that only a fraction of the unusual dishes were available at Gunwharf making it in my opinion 'average'. The food we ordered was good, and the staff attentive, but I just don't think I will be visiting again, as there is not much on the menu to tempt me. Wagamamma's is opening there very soon - stiff competition from them, so I really think Giraffe you should add some of the other dishes to the Portsmouth branch. This is my first expereince of visiting a chain restaurant where certain items are only available at other branches!! Clothes maybe - but food??????!!!!

Sakura - Albert Road

22 Feb 2010
Loved it here - went for lunch on Saturday. Only wish they did a lunchtime menu at a slightly cheaper price. A must for any sushi lovers.

JSW - Petersfield

7 Feb 2010
Having been to several of the one star restaurants in our region I was looking forward to trying JSW. At first glance I was a little disapointed to see that there was once an 8 course tasting menu which has now been slashed to a 5. On asking why,I was told it was too complicated with eight, as they were bringing out two dishes at a time and one was getting cold. - Anyway, the building is very pretty and looks the part. The food was very nice although my main critism for a Michelin restaurant was that there was absolutely no amuse bouche or any palette cleaners between courses and I can't say I have ever been to a Michelin restaurant where these extras didn't happen. I have even been to non-starred restaurants which have, and it all adds to the anticipation and enjoyment of the meal. So JSW, you should really think of adding these in as I mentioned to a member of your team - people who enjoy fine dining expect it. One of our courses also arrived whilst I was powdering my nose, so to speak, and really I feel both of our dishes should have automatically been held back until my return. Very young staff lacking a little in expreience also, but very pleasant natured. Tried to pay via American Express and was told it was not taken, which left us wondering if making money was the main priority of the restaurant (as there is a charge for the restaurant to take this card), and a few things that occured during the night left us wondering if the things lacking were due to trying to achieve higher profit margins rather than great dining.
In summary - a nice restaurant, but average. Would not go again, but hopefull thet they will make some needed changes.
Top tip: try Restaurant 27 in Southsea, just as good (if not better) yet half the price.

Restaurant 27 - Southsea

12 Nov 2009
YIPEE!!! I was so excited when I heard that a fine dining restaurant was opening in Southsea, one which would love a Michelin star according to it's own staff. The restaurant only opened a week ago today, so I couldn't wait to be one of it's first customers on Saturday night, and I was not disappointed! The owner is a former chef at Bistro Montparnasse, so we knew we were on to a good thing. The building is beautiful and very warm and cosy, almost like a lounge and I was glad to see carpet and not some horrid hard wood floor that can make restaurants sometimes feel clinical. The menu offered 3 courses for £35. The food was beautiful and having just last month eaten at the Hamborough on the Isle of W which has one Michelin star we thought in it's own right that Restaurant 27 was just as good. I look forward to seeing what other foodies out there thought of it. I could go on in great detail about the food we ate, but I wont, all I will say is, that Kevin's signature dish is even more finer tuned than it was at Montparnasse - thanks! The staff were so helpful and the service was spot on. I can't fault it, olny negative comment I can possibly make was that we would have liked the bread to stay on the table for longer, but if that's all I can come up with...! I wish the team evey success and we will be back again in January once Christmas is over with.

Vatika - Wickham

10 Nov 2009
I see everyone's experiences here were good, and I wanted mine to be also, but my visit back in the summer was spoilt by the flat atmosphere and awful smell in the restaurant. The food however was good. I actually didn't like the fact that when I called to book I was told we only had a 2ish hour window before we had to leave for the next sitting, and I can't bear that in restaurants. Fine dining should be about taking your time over the meal. As for the smell, well it can only be described as disenfectant!!! I e-mailed my comments to them regarding this when I returned home (apparantly according to the website direct to Atol), but with no reply. I'm sad about this because I wanted an explanation as to the awful smell and to feel as if my feedback was valued. Message sent twice and no reply. The stern looking female manager could do with smiling a little more - fine dining does not have to be stiff necked!!!!

The Hamborough - IOW

10 Nov 2009
we travelled over from Portsmouth to stay here for the night in the hotel too, and really enjoyed it. The hotel was really cosy and the bathroom lovely too. Great decor.

The restaurant was split into two rooms. We were seated by the window but sady it was too dark to experience the lovely ocean views. We enjoyed the meal and the wine also. This is not our first one star restaurant visit, so we had comparisons to make. Overall it was well worth going. We had the tasting menu, but would have liked one or two more extras. Service was great as expected, and we would return again.

Blue Nile - Osbourne Road

25 Jul 2009
Wow! We went here after a recent review in the local paper - and we were not disapointed! For those not too sure wheter to try it or not - I would say to you if you like curry, then you will like this. The staff are so attentive and polite. The food is so very reasonably priced, and the way you are traditionally enouraged to eat the food makes the experience wonderful. Coffee is freshly made - and I mean even the beans are roasted right there in front of you, lovingly by hand; "you won't get that in Starbucks" I heard another diner say!

I hope this place does really well as it deserves it. I'm told it is the only Ethopian Restaurant on the whole of the south coast - so go and experience something new!!

Brasserie Blanc

25 Jul 2009

Got the chance to go when it opened as they did a 50%off the bill pre opening offer to local residents. It was ok, our bill came to around £50 (excluding the discount), which had we paid full price, my jaw would have dropped to the ground! Average tasting (and only 8oz) steak was a whopping £26.00 full price which I would never pay in a restaurant. The snails were lovely though. Verdict - over priced and not everything made fresh!