In the light of recent events, it has been a long time since David and I have had the opportunity to review any local restaurants, so we absolutely jumped at the chance when a new addition to Southsea got in touch. Located on Marmion Road, ‘Minnie’s Kitchen’ is a small, family run business that promises to deliver great food in a ‘simple and relaxed’ environment.
Minnie’s is run by husband and wife team Andrew and Yvonne Cohen, with Minnie being the name of Andrew’s grandmother. They were successful in collecting the keys for their new venture just before lockdown and put the time to very good use. The couple have had previous experience in the restaurant business, running the very successful ‘Amelie and Friends’ in Chichester for many years. Initially the restaurant was something they planned to evolve over time, but with the global pandemic having other ideas, the restaurant has been completely refurbished. It has bright, clean and simple décor and a welcoming environment.
David and I went down to sample their Sunday Lunch menu (at the moment Minnie’s is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday). We arrived just 15 minutes after they opened and already the place was busy. They have taken time and care to ensure that all tables meet with social distancing guidelines and so we immediately felt relaxed (although at the moment staff are not wearing face masks or shields) and I have to say that for our first meal out as a couple in 6 months, it was nice to feel some sense of normality. Yvonne, the owner, came and introduced herself shortly after we arrived (we could see that this is something she takes the time to do with all her patrons) and spent some time talking to us about both the menu and wine list. Yvonne is immediately likeable – she is so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what she does and takes the time to share this with people.
Following their ‘simple and relaxed’ approach, both the menu and wine list are small, but clearly based around dishes and wines that they know work – and work well. There are some good vegetarian and gluten free options, but little for vegans. The menu is something you would expect from somewhere that very much wants to be known as a ‘restaurant’ rather than a ‘café’. David and I opted for chicken liver parfait (£6) and smoked salmon roulade (£7) to start and after a long conversation with Yvonne about wine (those of you who know me know this is a topic very close to my heart) we opted to share a bottle of Garrigue. Now, as previously mentioned, I love wine, but this is one we hadn’t heard of. It was absolutely delicious and completely complimented everything we chose to eat. The best bit is that if you don’t finish the bottle (who are those people?!) then you can take it home. As well as this, it was only £16 a bottle – the most expensive white on the list – and comes directly from Yvonne’s shop (Cheers! In Denmead), where it is sold for the same price. I am planning a pilgrimage to buy several bottles.
Anyway, back to the food.
The starters came out and were beautifully presented and much more in keeping with a restaurant feel. The portions were small, but perfect if you were about to indulge in a 3-course lunch. More importantly, they were both absolutely delicious and I could have eaten them again. The food was expertly cooked and presented and felt like a real treat. Our server was attentive and helpful and clearly knew the menu well. What was lovely, was that as we were eating, several other tables came in and Yvonne took the time to chat to each of them – one table loved their food and the atmosphere so much they immediately booked back in for the following Sunday.
Next up, the main event. I am a little bit of a snob when it comes to a Sunday roast, feeling very much that eating them out is always a bit of a disappointment. I decided that it was time for me to try and get over my food snobbery and so I decided to go for the roast (£15). This week it was lamb (they have one roast on a week and the meat changes so keep an eye) with seasonal veg and David opted for roast pork belly with mash and cider sauce (£14). Again, we were not disappointed. Presentation was excellent and the food was really well cooked. The lamb was tender (perhaps not as pink as I would have it, but still delicious) and it even came with an extra pot of gravy, which is always a plus point. However, the real star of the show was the pork. The crackling was exceptional and the cider sauce delicious – David was in food heaven and very reluctant to let me share. Even better was that if you pop down on a Sunday, you can get a 2-course lunch for only £20… an absolute steal! Also, if you pop down on a Friday or Saturday night for their dinner service (7-8.30pm) then you can get a 3-course meal for only £29.
Despite the fact that I had definitely eaten enough, I was still tempted in by dessert and decided to finish my meal with the crème caramel (£6) and David with the affogato (£6). Again, presentation was flawless, and the food had been really well prepared. One lady, who has been several times already, informed me that my dessert choice was delicious, and she was absolutely right. This goes to show exactly what sort of place it is, there were several returning customers and people who were rebooking as we were there. Trendy Southsea eatery this is not, but that is the point. This is a simple, effective and well-run place. The menu is classic and doesn’t need to pretend to be something it is not. The drinks selection is small, but again, well curated and thought out (not a craft beer in sight) and Yvonne and Andrew clearly pride themselves on this approach. There are no frills, no faff and that makes it the perfect place for a real treat breakfast, lunch or dinner. In keeping with the fact this used to be a café, Minnie’s does offer breakfast between 10-2 on a Saturday, with lunch service 12-2 on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday and dinner 7-8.30pm on Friday and Saturday.
It is refreshing to find somewhere that has gone back to the basics of good food without thinking too much about what might be ‘on trend.’ Think visiting family, think special occasion, think going somewhere all generations of the family can enjoy. Or, just because you fancy it.
David and I know for certain we will be back and we urge you to try it too!