I love steak. No, I really do. I adore it so, when I saw a large, red sign outside the front of Shorties with ‘steak’ in capitals, my body automatically pulled me closer.
I had been recommended Shorties before countless times by friends and my boyfriend. He had visited last year and said he loved it and knew, with my insidious appetite for meat, I would too. I had a look at their website and it looked impressive – slabs of meat with impeccable presentation and a garnish of parsley on top, and a quote stating they are ‘widely regarded as Southsea’s tastiest eating place.’ But, I sit here now, writing this, am not sure by who.
(Personal screenshot of Shorties website. All credit goes to Shorties Resturant.)
The interior design of Shorties is a blast from the past with exposed brick, patterned carpets and wooden chairs and tables that look like they belong in a pub. On the table were thick red menus and 70’s styled placemats that had a faded image of the building on. It was quite dark inside but had plenty of seats. As we entered, a female member of staff greeted us with a smile and told us to help ourselves to a table.
The menu was very large with mainly meaty options and only a few vegetarian meals. There were 4 in total and included a nut roast slice and a broccoli and cheese bake. There were burgers, king prawns and various types of steak such as fillet, rib eye and sirloin. The desserts were also vast with sundaes, fudge cakes and cheesecakes. I was definitely going to have to save some room.
For a starter, I ordered the garlic king prawns which came fairly quickly, around 5 minutes later. As I waited for them, I listened to the strange mix of music playing in the background. It varied from cheesy pop songs such as Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love’ to soft mellow tracks like Damien Rice’s ‘Cannonball’. I thought it would just be easy to play an acoustic or jazz playlist and get it over with. I mean jazz works well for everything and everyone right?
The presentation of the starter was really nice with 5 thick, shelled prawns next to a toasted baguette and a pile of shredded lettuce and cucumber. The prawns were tasty and succulent, however, being a garlic lover, they could have done with more garlic. The baguette was toasted to perfection but the ‘salad’ was what you would expect from iceberg lettuce and cucumber. This was a little mediocre and didn’t have the same classy vibe as hinted at on their website.
It was time for wine. I peered at the menu again and noticed their somewhat large range of alcoholic drinks, all at a reasonable price. I ordered a £3.50 glass of sauvignon as the waitress took away my empty plate and then I explored their cocktail range. They had the usual such as a Mojito but I took great pleasure in reading the names of their speciality cocktails such as ‘The Orgy’ or ‘Shorties Slop Bucket’.
For my main, I ordered an 8oz fillet steak which came with chips, salad and roasted mushrooms. This was fairly cheap at £16 as most places, I have seen, charge at the high end of £20 for the same.
I told the waitress to not put any ‘salad’ with my steak and also asked for a side of onion rings. Of course, when she asked how I would like my steak done, I replied with ‘rare’. Talking about all this bloody meat makes me sound like a carnivore…
My main, like my starter, arrived quite quickly and on a huge plate was a generous portion of chunky-cut chips and chopped up mushrooms. The steak was a few inches thick and was quite succulent, slicing effortlessly at my knife. The dark chargrilled outside contrasted beautifully against the moist, red inside. As I sucked up my drool, I took a bite. It tasted splendidly and was one of the best steaks I have eaten apart from one thing – it was cold. Normally, I would be too polite to say something and eat it anyway but, as you can tell, I am passionate about steak so for once in my life I sent it back. The staff were very nice about it and took it off my hands apologetically.
As I waited, I snacked on my onion rings and really enjoyed them. Their batter was crispy and the onion was gooey, hot and thick. They were not just some bog standard, freezer onion rings like I thought they would be.
The steak came back out for me and this time was piping hot in the centre and I continued to gorge on it and relish every bite.
For my dessert, I chose the After Dinner Mint Sundae which had mint choc ice cream, chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, an After Eight and a flake. The other options were just as tempting such as the Banana Boat Passion, a sundae with vanilla ice cream, a whole banana, fruit cocktail and whipped cream, or the Shorties X-Rated, a liqueur of choice poured over ice cream. One that really caught my eye was the Romeo and Juliet, a dessert for two with meringue, ice cream, nuts, cream and a sparkler, however, my partner wasn’t in a sharing sort of mood so I thought best to leave it. A little disappointed, I would have loved to see what that dessert looked like. My sundae was huge and sadly I didn’t finish it all but it was the perfect way to finish my meal. For £4.75 it was great value and obviously, I left my mint until last for when it had gone ‘after eight’.
It took a while for us to get our bill as the service, although friendly, was a bit slow. As it was given to us, I was a little surprised that they didn’t take anything off to apologise for the cold steak. I have been to a few places where this had been the case and in the past, when I worked as a waitress, I would also do it. Either way, it wasn’t a big deal as overall, it didn’t cost much at all.
One issue which is more noteworthy, and one I have mentioned a few times, is the difference from Shorties online appearance to its appearance in person. If you go onto their website, the food looks far different than what you are actually given. This includes the salads being presented with a range of fancy leaves and dressing and the steak being served with extra items, such as a grilled tomato. I am also dubious of their title ‘Southsea’s tastiest eating place’ as, throughout my Southsea Food Tour, I have found far tastier places.
I will not deny that it was nice but there are nicer places with faster service and better quality of food in Southsea. It is good value for money but, even though they happily sorted it, my steak was still given to me cold and there was a somewhat lack of atmosphere.
It wasn’t all bad, as I said it was cheap, and the steak was tasty (in the end). Their range of desserts was good and the staff were nice. But, at the end of the day sadly, Shorties didn’t live up to the expectations given to me by my friends and even their website. Perhaps they have changed hands recently or maybe, just maybe, I caught them on a bad day. Who knows.