Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Coast to Coast Gunwharf Quays

Main courses were the best dishes on the menu by far.

I was invited to the launch night at Coast to Coast a few weeks after it’s opening.  Coast to Coast is Gunwharf Quays new American Restaurant and Bar.  This is always the best time to try a new restaurant; once they have settled in.  Coast to Coast is a small chain with Gunwharf being the fourth to open, and others to come.  The whole restaurant was filled with other invited guests and members of the public who had won the chance to dine for free, so there were absolutely no paying customers.  The atmosphere was energetic due to the live band and Radio DJ Steve Power hosting.  They had a neat P.R stunt upon arrival; snapping everyone on a red carpet before they entered the building, and during the evening issuing us all with the OK! Magazine Style photograph covers.

So what about the reason I was there for – the food!  I’m usually not a fan of American Restaurant’s in this country, as they offer little resemblance to the authenticity of true American food.  But Coast to Coast claims to be different than the rest, and created out of a desire to put this right.  I'm only three months back from an epic food fuelled trip to Orlando, Florida, so was this the case?

I purposefully chose dishes that you find in most American restaurants to see how they were better here, and I also chose dishes that I feel to be more authentically American.  However the outcome was mixed.

I couldn’t praise the cocktail menu enough – the Red Berry Cheesecake and French Martini (£5.95 each) were drinks most of us girlies take one sip out of and immediately fall in love with.  It is well worth just nipping in here on a night out to the bar area only with cocktails this good, and cocktails certainly not found anywhere else in Gunwharf like this.

The bread and olives board (£4.95) was average. With fresh vibrant green olives such as Castelvetrano now available in supermarkets and other chain restaurants, it was disappointing to see jarred, pitted and marinated dull green olives arrive. 

The appetiser menu hosted the usual suspects, so we opted to test out the Calamari (£6.55) which is often a poor show in many restaurants, and blue cheese mushrooms (£4.95), which too can be a let down.  Sad to say these did not hit the right notes.  The ‘lightly fried calamari’ was heavy in batter, chewy and over greasy, and the mushrooms with blue cheese had far too much blue cheese. It was sickly even for a blue cheese lover like me.

I was looking forward to the main courses ordered.  Burgers, steaks, hot wraps and sandwiches, fajitas, pizzas, pasta’s and salads can all be found on the menu at Coast to Coast.  Uber trendy pulled pork featured on the menu a few times, so this was a must, and we also ordered a classic steak.  Suddenly the meal was redeemed! The pulled pork dish I ordered was in the form of a burger, and sat on top of a 6oz beef patty – a pure meat feast.  It was delicious (although very sweet), and I have not had that combination together in a burger before, as you usually find one or the other inside the bun. (£11.95).  The steak was an 8oz, 28 day matured fillet steak (£21.95).  I’m glad we ordered it as it was beautifully executed to medium rare, and the sides of ‘homemade slaw’ and sweet potato chips were every bit contemporary American and elevated the dish. We opted for the 5 grilled prawns as an extra with the steak, but they were flavourless and a little superfluous.

Desserts were lacking in creativity and the choice was as you would expect to find in American restaurants. The cherry crumble came with a scoop of ice cream and custard on the side in miniature bowls, but the ice cream was unpleasant and very manufactured in taste, as was the crumble.  I’m not actually sure what flavour the ice cream was supposed to be, and the cheesecake too was just ok.

The service was sharp and the staff very pleasant, always willing to engage in conversation.  They were more than happy to change the dishes I was not overly keen on – and although I stuck with what I had ordered, this was refreshing and nice to see. 

Coast to Coast is definitely one of the better American chains.  However, as my meal was hit and miss, when I return it will be for cocktails and main courses only! 
 I would recommend a visit though.

Blue Cheese Mushrooms

Cherry Crumble

1 comment:

  1. A great review and photographs, thank you for sharing. Here at Queens Hotel Portsmouth we are ideally situated close to Gunwharf Quays and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and look forward to welcoming all our guests to enjoy luxurious accommodation and spectacular views across the Solent. Our very best wishes to you all.