Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Southsea's Top 5 Breakfast Spots

by Melissa Smith

It’s an experience we all share – whether you’re an endurer, a skip-it-all-together-er, or something of an aficionado, breakfast is a daily ritual we’ve all accustomed to in some way or another over the years. Regularly hailed as the ‘most important meal of the day’ (and rightly so!), it inspires some of the most dichotomised attitudes in the quotidian gastronomical timeline. Adults and children alike, we all have our opinions on what constitutes the perfect early morning meal. For many this is nothing at all; for others, only a banquet fit for a king will suffice. Whatever the case in your household, there now exist a myriad of cafés and restaurants that are more than willing to accommodate the early morning guest.

For years have dinner dates reigned. For too long we’ve been going out for pasta over pancakes and dismissing bacon for a baked potato - frittata for fish and chips. Candlelight dining has become commonplace amongst the nervous first date couple, the cosy family reunion and the smart-suit business meeting.

In recent years, however, a new competitor has sprung up amongst the hors d’oeuvres and amuse-bouches of yesteryear. It’s name? Breakfast.

As a self-professed obsessionee of all meals pre-11am, I have taken it upon myself to highlight just a few of my favourite breakfast spots in the local area, in the hopes that just one may inspire some of you to venture out of your coffee-fuelled morning haze and into the warm arms of some freshly cooked blueberry pancakes. Or, you know, whatever floats your boat…
No. 5: Jags@119


Perhaps overshadowed a little by the domineering force that is the classic hamburger and fries, the breakfast at this all-American feasting ground is one to be reckoned with. From the healthier granola, yoghurt and fruit compote, to the classic maple syrup-drenched buttermilk pancakes the size of a small dinner plate (complete with a choice of sides to complete the experience), there are many great things to be said about Jags.

Other than the food, the atmosphere here is enough to drag you in from these winter-y English streets. As you tuck into your generously portioned plate in a red-and-white upholstered booth, the swinging sounds of Elvis play in the background. The décor is brilliant – it gives the famous greasy spoon café a run for its money to say the least. Whilst it’s not usually packed with people, the staff is always friendly and welcoming.  If you’re feeling hungry, this is the place to go.
119 Elm Grove
Southsea PO5 1LH
No. 4: Watkins & Faux | The Pavilion Café

Watkins & Faux is a relatively recent addition to the ever-expanding Southsea café repertoire. Inhabiting the pavilion of Southsea Tennis Club, they have brought a new lease of life to what was never really a culinary hotspot (to say the least).
Old, wooden racquets and other such memorabilia line the walls of this quirky, cake-loving pavilion, whilst tables are laid out for all walks of life – from young children (there are toys available for younger guests) to book clubs and the like.
On the menu, you’re likely to find a variety of fresh, locally sourced ingredients – the seasonal salads show off some of the best produce Hampshire has to offer if you’re going for more of a brunch. Aside from this, all the classic breakfast options are available, bacon butty included! Suitably themed smoothies are also on the cards, such as Agassi’s acai, Serena’s sunset and Murray’s berry, as well as coconut water and the classic black coffee. Whatever you’re in the mood for, there really is something for everyone here.
The Pavilion Café,
Southsea Tennis Club,
Clarence Esplanade,
PO5 3PB Southsea
No.3: The Garage Lounge/ The Garage Lounge Bakery

In a cheeky amalgamation of the two, The Garage Lounge and The Garage Lounge Bakery (formerly known as The Parlour) stand at number 3 on my list. To anyone who has visited either of these local superstars, it will not come as a surprise that they are to be found amongst such dizzy heights.
Whilst The Garage Lounge may be better known for its awe-inspiringly huge cakes, the breakfasts here put up a significant fight for attention. As shown in the photo, for me it was the pancakes that took my fancy. Served with a side of whipped cream, fresh berries and the steadfast jug of maple syrup, they provide a welcome treat for anyone on the lookout for some tastily-adorned vintage crockery. I can also put in a personal recommendation for the eggs Benedict, while we’re at it.
The Garage Lounge Bakery, the younger sibling of the two, is perfect for when all you want for breakfast is a good old-fashioned face-sized funfetti cookie.  For the traditionalists among us, there’s also porridge and cooked breakfasts (amongst other such fares), in case you’re on the lookout for a more substantial dish. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
Although the prices of cake in The Garage Lounge may sometimes appear as lofty as the oh-so-elegant high ceiling, the breakfast menu is surprisingly good value and worth it for the occasional (or not so occasional in my case) culinary outing.
1 Albert Road,
PO5 2SP Southsea 

No. 2: Lou Lou’s Café

Lou Lou’s is not a newcomer among these parts by any means, having been a staple member of the community for many years now, however with new ownership and a heavily expanded breakfast menu, it now holds pride of place amongst the Southsea elite.
For Francophiles such as myself, this place is to die for. Antique desks replace the traditional table setting in one case, the walls are plastered with faded photographs of picturesque Parisian scenes, and the line of hanging copper kettles adds a certain already-abundant charm.
Of course, the menu is not without the classic croissant and French baguette, however it was the banana pancakes that enticed me on my recent visit (I’m noticing a slight pattern in my eating habits here, I do apologise to any diabetic/pancake-phobic readers). As something of a purist, usually I would take offence that such a French themed café would include an American dish on its listings, but my first taste of these pillowy, effortlessly soft, melt-in-the-mouth pancakes was enough to shut me up. Non banana-enthusiasts will enjoy the offer of these godly creations next to scrambled egg and bacon, for an authentic pancake experience.
Traditional breakfasts also take pride of place at this establishment, and the freshly squeezed orange juice is most definitely worth a try. If you’re ever in the area at an offensively early hour (meaning any time before 1pm for teenagers), it really is worth taking a look in here.

37 Marmion Road,
Southsea PO5 2AT

No. 1: Southsea Coffee Company

Yes, that is a slice of toasted banana bread with vanilla mascarpone, fresh berries, banana and a honey drizzle. No, you can’t have any. Get your own at Southsea Coffee Company, the mighty number one on this growing list of objective breakfast excellence.

The room is relatively small, but as the hordes of eager coffee drinkers and tea sippers that come and go in quick succession will tell you, every square inch of it is alive. As light pours in onto the rustic curved tables and impressive array of coffee beans on display, a buzz of invariable clamour adorns the place with the kind of energy more likely to be seen in a café of its kind in London or New York.

Another focal point is the constantly changing back wall, which is regularly used as a canvas for a multitude of local artists - a feature that only serves to epitomise the community feel of this cosy space.

Needless to say, coffee takes a starring role here. With beans and blends from all over the world, there is something for every taste. The beverage list does not stop there, however, and you’re bound to find something you fancy, whether that’s a chilli hot chocolate (as in the spice - that’s not a vague attempt at thermal irony), a strawberry milkshake, or a pot of Southsea green tea. 

The cakes on display (many of which are vegan and/or gluten free) are a particular attraction, and with the line up changing on a regular basis there is always something new to taste. Some of us may prefer to fall back on old favourites (the banana oat chocolate chip cookie takes precedence in my books), but newer additions such as raw apricot-cashew bars are not to be ignored.

Aside from these sweet treats, there is of course a breakfast (and lunch) menu that never fails to disappoint. The somewhat limited choice is not a problem at all, as with each item is guaranteed the upmost care and, most importantly, taste. As well as the banana bread pictured, the chunky toast, seasonal porridge and tostada con tomate are equally popular choices. Come back at lunch to enjoy a variety of topped sourdough toasts, granary sandwiches and homemade soup. For the moment, though, let’s keep it at meal numero uno.

This place is definitely numero uno for me.

63 Osborne Road
Southsea PO5 3LS

Sonnet 43: An Ode to Breakfast
Breakfast, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My pancakes can reach, when feeling out of Weetabix
For the ends of the milk and ideal expiration date.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet feed, by sun and candle-light (read: breakfast for dinner).
I love thee freely, as men strive for the microwave’s light;
I love thee purely, as they turn from the Poptart craze.
I love thee with a passion-fruit put to use
In my old yoghurt parfaits, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost egg and soldiers, --- I love thee with the coffee breath,
Toast piles, marmite smears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death (p.s. I hope there’s bacon in Heaven).

Melissa Smith

Adapted from Sonnet 43, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

1 comment:

  1. A blog after my own heart. Breakfast is what southsea does best.  But my top 5 would be 5. Sellers on Kent road (cus service to die for and great fry up) 4. Irish pub on Osborne road (black pudding yum) 3. Cottage cafe on end of marmion/Victoria road south (For when you need grease and a lot of it with chips on the side) 2. Southsea coffee co. (best coffee in the world, cool menu and great service) 1. Capers on Marion (awesome menu, great food and home made cakes - yummy yummy yummy) 


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