I didn’t sleep well last night and woke up in a bit of a flat mood. I slumped out of bed and sighing, I put on my clothes and readied myself for the day ahead. In need of a pickup and having no food to make breakfast, I walked round the road to T and Thistle, a Scottish inspired coffee lounge.
I have passed it many times since I have moved into my new place on Haslemere Road and I’m always intrigued by the quaint hanging baskets and garden furniture that occupy the shop’s front. I don’t know why I have never been in there before, especially when it’s a mere few minute walk from my home and is such a lovely place to buy a cuppa and read a book.
It opened February this year and has already made an impression on the locals and, after today, I can certainly say it has made an impression on me.
The apparent Scottish spirit of the cafe wasn’t clear to me apart from the thistle logo yet I did enjoy the quaint, rustic decor of the new coffee lounge that adds a little haven to the top of Highland Road. The chairs and tables were wooden and there was a large victorian style sofa, a gold framed mirror hanging on the wall and chalkboard menus. Seems as if there is a pattern emerging amongst the decor of Southsea’s coffee lounges…
Landscape photography occupied one of the walls by the till and the lighting was a series of old fashioned light bulbs, refitted into a sort of steampunk chandelier which I must say caught my attention. Soft acoustic music played in the background, suiting the calm and snug vibes of the place and I spent my morning amongst it all.
On the till were a range of cakes, some homemade, from scones and muffins to traditional shortbread and the eye-catching espresso and chocolate brownie. The drinks menu offered a wide range of drinks from local suppliers including All About Tea’s, loose leaf, Portsmouth tea.
I ordered a regular tea, a honeycomb rocky road and an eggs benedict. The waitress, a friendly young lady, said she would bring them over and so I perched on one of the wooden chairs by the window and read the rest of the menu.
There was a nice range of options from breakfast choices, such as my eggs benedict, to bagels and paninis which held interesting ingredients such as avocado, salmon and halloumi. Considering these ingredients are a bit higher than your bog standard ham and cheese, the prices were fairly reasonable at £4.50 a panini. I was also impressed by their selection of platters such as the ‘T and Thistle Platter’, a Scottish inspired meal, which includes smoked salmon oatcakes, haggis, chutney, mature cheddar and rocket for only £9. This is cheaper than other places I have reviewed where they charge roughly £12 for similar contents. Once again I was kicking myself because I didn’t order the platter. Maybe, no, definitely next time!
My food and drinks came soon after, delivered by the same friendly waitress. She was keen to make sure I was comfortable and had all I needed. ‘Do you need any salt and pepper? If you need more milk let me know straight away. I hope you enjoy it,’ she chirped, before skipping away to serve some other customers.
I poured myself a tea with too many sugars and tucked into my breakfast meal. Now before I tell you about the flavours and all that, I must say that another thing about T and Thistle that ticked a box. Its breakfast times. Normally, cafes serve breakfast until 10 or 11 am however here they stop it far later at 1pm. This is perfect for later risers such as myself or hungover partiers.
Anyway, the presentation was brilliant and very careful and precise. ‘This is perfect for instagram,’ I thought as I snapped a picture before I took a bite. The poached egg was spot on, large, bouncy and runny when I sliced it open. The bacon was also good, crispy and plentiful and the muffin was as good as a muffin can be. However all of this was let down by the sauce. There was lots of it, which is great, however not when it overpowers all the other flavours. There was too much mustard and sadly that’s all I could taste. It was a shame because everything else was on point. It would have been a masterpiece if it wasn’t for that tiny detail. Maybe next time…
I sipped on my tea and cut up my rocky road into smaller chunks. I noticed next to me was a rack of newspapers however they were all the Portsmouth News. I didn’t mind as I had The Wasp Factory by Scottish writer Iain Banks (fitting right?), yet I’m sure some might want a bit diversity to go with their coffee. Well, at least they weren’t the Sun anyway.
The Honeycomb Rocky Road was tasty and an immediate pick me up. They didn’t go shy on the honeycomb and marshmallow, which some people do, and in no time I had demolished it, sat there happy and content with a fat belly, reading a book.
I stayed there a little longer to finish my chapter and pot of tea. I really liked it there for all its calming and welcoming vibes and it definitely put me on the right track for the rest of the day – strong Hollandaise sauce or not.
Its food is tasty, the decor is sweet, the atmosphere is warm and the prices are reasonable. I’ll definitely be going back and now that I have a loyalty card, they’ll start seeing my face more and more often…