In my opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than Southsea in the sunshine and no better way to appreciate it than with a beverage in hand. With this as our main objective, we set out last Friday evening to enjoy uninterrupted views of the Solent at The Canteen, part of the Hotwalls redevelopment in Old Portsmouth. Established in 2016, they have converted part of the Hotwalls into a unique café/ restaurant that makes the most of their beautiful surroundings and have extended their opening hours into the summer (Thursday – Saturday until 9pm).
My husband and I arrived at 7.30pm and were immediately shown to a table on the deck, a part of the restaurant tucked away, nestled underneath the round tower. The deck was already bustling, with people and dogs alike gathered to watch the sunset over Gosport. As you can’t book ahead, we were lucky to get a spot outside on such a gorgeous evening. Anywhere that allows dogs always gets a huge plus in my book and there were ones of all shapes and sizes welcomed.
Our server, David, was friendly and attentive without being overbearing. He left us to peruse the menu and we decided to start with some pre-dinner drinks (Negroni for me, G&T for him.) David was really helpful in his gin recommendations (Twisted Nose) and my husband was very happy with his choice. The Negroni was well made and complimented the views of the water, I almost felt like I could have been somewhere much more exotic!
After a look through the menu, we opted for the Sea Sharing board, some of the marinated olives (genuinely some of the biggest and juiciest I’ve ever seen) and some potato wedges. To be honest, we were a little stuck as the menu itself is rather limited, with not an overwhelming selection for vegetarians and vegans, and the sea sharing board was the only thing that had something for us both. Having said that, the menu definitely does make the most of the setting, with lots of seafood/fish options and Mediterranean style snacks. The sharing board was delicious and you could definitely taste how fresh the seafood was – and there was plenty of it. The mackerel pate was the perfect consistency and full of flavour, and the prawns were very fresh and very tasty! At £19, we felt it was pretty reasonably priced as we both left feeling full and there was enough for two (and sadly no room for dessert). David also recommended a wine to compliment the platter and it definitely did so, we went for the Sauvignon Blanc.
The sharing board was delicious and you could definitely taste how fresh the seafood was – and there was plenty of it.
Overall, dining and drinking at The Canteen was a very pleasant experience and definitely somewhere we would go again, probably to check out their breakfast or lunch options. It was the perfect place for a Friday night date night and it was lovely to be able to relax and watch the sunset. Although it does close at 9, we were at no point rushed or feeling pressured to finish, which just added to the laid back and welcoming atmosphere. We also had a wander through the inside before we left and each room offers views of the water and you can really feel the historic significance of the building you are in. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable and all in all we had a lovely evening.
Review by Naomi Tuckwell
Photography by David Tuckwell