Andre’s Food Bar is a unique eatery in Portsmouth as not only is it the home of their famous garlic chicken but it’s also Southsea’s oldest independent sandwich shop. Established in 1988, they have been serving fresh baguettes (among other things) for almost thirty years. So, how did they hold up this week when I paid them a visit for my Southsea Food Tour? We’re they as good as people say?
Located a stone’s throw away from the seafront, on Osborne Road, Andre’s is a small shop with limited opening hours. Open 6 days a week, Monday to Saturday, they are only open until 3pm, meaning their food is only available for lunch. This is fine as jacket potatoes and baguettes aren’t conventional dinnertime treats but it does mean you’ll have to go elsewhere if you fancy a late afternoon snack.
As you approach the shop you are welcomed by several metal chairs and an open window boasting a large spread of tempting treats. Sausage rolls, quiches, danishes, baguettes and cookies (to name a few) easily seduce any walker by inside.
It has a pristine interior, decorated with black and white tiles, potted herbs and even more mouthwatering temptations. There are some chairs to sit on, on the right hand side of the deli, but these are limited. Andre’s is more of a take-out joint than anything else so it’s perfect for the busy worker, nipping in to get a wholesome lunch. It’s not so great however for the customer who wants to relax, drink a coffee, have some food and watch the world go by.
The staff welcomed me with bubbly attitudes and big smiles and told me what specials they have on. I thanked them and then looked around at what they had on offer. Their baguettes, freshly prepared, had various selections including beef and horseradish, seafood, turkey breast and cranberry and of course their ‘famous garlic chicken’. They had various vegetarian options including cheese-slaw, egg and brie and cranberry. All baguettes are customizable too with fresh toppings from their salad bar. They come with lettuce, tomato, onion and/or cucumber garnish as well as two other toppings of your choice. If you wanted to add more then each extra topping will cost you a reasonable 20p. For another filling it’s 50p. For bread they have a choice of white, brown or rustic and are all good value ranging from £3.50 to £4.40.
There are also salads, paninis and jacket potatoes on offer – all customizable, fresh and good value. Soups and ‘home-made nibbles’ including nuts and olives are also available if you didn’t have enough choice already.
I ordered a garlic chicken baguette, a Parisien panini and a chicken and leek pastry basket which came to just over £10.
The baguette was wrapped up by a member of staff and I waited for the panini as it was cooked fresh. One man behind the counter told me they do telephone orders so I could have called in advance and picked up my panini without the wait. I will remember this next time…
The list of unique items didn’t end there and, as I waited, I spied the other interesting delicacies. At the front of the display was a box of filled with miniature croissants with fillings such as tomato, cheese, chicken and ham. These were only £4 and I thought they would be perfect for a group of friends or a small family. They had larger filled croissants too and thick chocolatey cookies. For children they even had a meal deal on offer for only £4.20 which included half a baguette, raisins, a fruit drink and some magic stars. That would have been perfect for me, I thought.
The panini was handed to me, wrapped in foil and paper, not long later and as I left I grabbed myself a take out menu. I headed home, looking forward to devouring their food.
The baguette, bustling with fillings, was scrumptious. The garlic chicken erupted with flavour and was very moreish. It was served with their homemade mayo which complemented the chicken well with a light and creamy touch.
My Parisien panini, filled with ham, cheese and mustard, was still piping hot regardless of the 10 minute drive home. As I peeled back the foil, steam shot out and revealed to me a mass of gorgeous gooey cheese. The ham was thick and in one bit I was already impressed. The flavours were balanced well and the tanginess of the mustard was just the right amount.
My last treat, which I barely had room for, was the chicken and leek basket. It was the first thing that caught my eye in the window. The pastry was golden brown and in the centre was the green and moist filling with large chunks of both chicken and leek. Once again the flavours were impeccable and the fillings, generous.
The food of Andre’s is fairly simple but regardless the flavours are flawless. It goes to show that it pays to master the basics. But, their prices were perhaps the most juicy thing about my visit. For the same high quality and fresh food, some places charge a hefty sum. Andre’s however is very kind to the wallet.
They are a perfect place to grab and go a moreish lunch, especially if you are having a busy day. But, for the casual diner who wants a comfy place to spend their lunchtime, eating and reading the paper, it may not be a first choice.
Andre’s is up there for sure on food quality and value and I know I will be calling them soon to order myself a tasty lunch, ready to take with me to university. It’s definitely better than a Subway – not by a mile but by a hundred.