The Southsea Food Tour – Deep Blue

This year, South Parade pier reopened on the 14th April but since then has still been under works. Now, 4 months later, a vital piece of the puzzle has settled.

On the 3rd August, Deep Blue opened their first sit down restaurant in Portsmouth on the pier. Their manager says they still have work to do but personally, I think they are already there.

As you walk through the two large doors you wouldn’t realise you have stepped foot into, basically, a fish and chips restaurant. It is beautiful and grand inside with chandeliers, great mirrors and lamps. Deep Blue is light and airy with, on the right-hand side, an open plan kitchen and on the left, a huge bar.

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The pier was the perfect back drop for the restaurant. Their windows opened to the blue, summer’s sky and the rest of the pier where fishermen tried to get their catch of the day. You can spot the waves drift along towards the faded image of the Isle of Wight.

The menus are colourful and on one side, have nice artwork of the pier on. I contemplated stashing one into my bag but instead settled on reading it. There was a good range of items on the menu – not just fish. There were burgers, grilled chicken, salads and their tapas items including breaded mushrooms. Of course, there was the traditional Cod and Chips. Their vegetarian options were quite limited with only two main courses such as the Quinoa Salad and Halloumi Burger. You could include the vegetarian option of the Caesar salad but that is still only three choices. Prices were around average and some items, such as the Medium Cod and Chips, were good value for money at £8.99.

The drinks menu had a good selection of both wine, spirits and cocktails. They had symbols next to the wine to inform you what drink supplements what style of dish. This was a nice touch.

I ordered a glass of rose, Rugged Ridge Zinfandel and then the Langoustine to start. The waiter was incredibly friendly and helpful, asking me how I was and helping me to pick my starter. Initially, I didn’t know whether to go for the Langoustine, squid or fish cakes but in no time, I had made my decision after he carefully described each one. Whilst he talked, I dreamily stared into his ‘deep blue’ eyes, already having high hopes for my meal.

My wine came out in no time at all in a large wine glass. It was perfectly chilled and with one sip I knew I had chosen correctly. It was fruity and crisp and went down smoothly, too smoothly. As I held myself back from necking the entire 175ml, my starter had arrived.

The presentation was great with a pile of prawns in an iron pot. There were thick chunks of sour dough on the side with some tools to help me crack open the shellfish. Each one was substantial with claws and legs, piled on top of one another, covered in garlic, oil and herbs. Steam oozed off of them as I started to peel the shells off. The meat inside was something else. It was soft and delicate and full of flavour. It was beautiful and although each one had little flesh, there were plenty of them to make up for that. The meat was gorgeously garlic but a little gritty at times. I then ate the sourdough with the leftover oil and cleaned my fingers in the dipping bowl they provided.

I was already impressed as I ordered my main, a Medium Cod and Chips. I could have chosen something more exciting, I know, but you need to make sure that they can get the basics right. I mean, what fish and chips restaurant would be any good if they can’t even cook the food in their name right?

It came out shortly after but my fish and chips was not medium – it couldn’t have been. A huge plate was brought to me and a thick slab of fish covered half of it, with the other half being piled with chunky chips. A pot of mushy peas and tartare sauce came on the side.

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I cut the fish in half to reveal the soft, white inside. The flesh fell apart and the batter was light. It was very tasty and not as heavy or greasy as most battered fish. Smearing the tangy tartare on top, I finished as much as I could. The batter could have been cooked a tad longer as although it was crunchy in parts, it was slightly soggy in others. The chips were traditional chip shop chips but I couldn’t finish them all as, after a handful, I was at my limit.

Although, that didn’t stop me ordering dessert. Their dessert menu had some interesting choices with a brulee, sticky toffee pudding and a range of tortes, including pistachio, Cherry Bakewell and triple chocolate. I did a double take at the Triple Chocolate Torte but decided on the Chocolate Mess instead.

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This was probably a mistake as, when it was handed to me, I realised it was huge. In a bowl was a brick of steamed sponge, smothered in a rich chocolate sauce. On top was a dollop of already melting vanilla ice cream and half a strawberry. I took a big spoonful. Unlike most sponges, it was moist and springy. I tried to eat it all, I really did, but I had to give up half way through. My stomach was so sore but in a good way.

I thoroughly enjoyed Deep Blue and was impressed by both the setting and their food. It’s a worthwhile addition to the seafront and I think it does Portsmouth proud. If they are this good now, I am very excited to see what they are like in the future, after they have made the changes they have in mind.

Deep Blue, you are certainly the ‘plaice’ for me.

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