Recently I went out for the day with my pal Catia. Our first stop was Design Vintage in West Stoke, West Sussex for a cake and coffee. They didn’t recognise me with ‘normal’ clothes on (I usually visit them whilst out cycling, its one of our favourite ‘pit-stops’) and only did so once I’d ordered a ‘three-shot flat white’. We sat outside in the brilliantly hot sunshine, with a blue sky above us, not a cloud to be seen. It’s quite a little sun trap there and very peaceful too.
Next we went not even a mile away and just around the corner to Wellies for lunch. Again we sat outside where we enjoyed a lovely Mediterranean vegetable ciabatta and an ice cold drink. From there we went to Chichester for a spot of shopping. My sister sent me a text asking if I was available that evening for a meal. Well, not being one to say no to food and seeing as I’d only had the ciabatta (oh yes, and that cake earlier) I was sure I could squeeze something in by then.
Gill had a couple of vouchers for Café Rouge. One was for 30% off the food bill (I later found another for 40% off mains) and another which said we could have a free ‘gin bloom’ or a mocktail. This offer said it could be used with other vouchers but the other vouchers suggested otherwise. We booked a table for 7pm.
Unfortunately we ended up being around 20 minutes late because of the IOW ferry company – as usual causing chaos to the city’s roads. Café Rouge didn’t seem to mind that we were late and we were shown to a table outside as it was a splendidly hot evening.
The waitress was very friendly and helpful and explained that the gin voucher could indeed be used with the other offers that we had. I’m not keen on gin but as it was almost double the price of a mocktail I was jolly well going to have one 😀 There were five to choose from, I chose the cucumber & watermelon. It came in a very large glass with tons of ice and slices of cucumber. It wasn’t as bad as I remember gin tasting, in fact it was quite refreshing .
I haven’t been to Café Rouge for ages. The last time Geoff and I went was after they’d just refurbished it (a year or two ago?) we went for a pastry and a coffee for breakfast (I think that was an offer too) and we were disappointed. Also, there was no milk and the table next to us weren’t too impressed as they were waiting ages for some for their cup of tea. There’s a Tesco express not far away, one of the staff should have run over and got some. The customers ended up complaining on Twitter, hehe. We ended up going to Carluccios and having a second breakfast of zesty lemon tart and a nice coffee, they had milk!
The time before that we went for Geoff’s 50th birthday (a few years back, ahem!) with Helen. Geoff had received an email voucher for a free bottle of bubbly as it was his birthday. At the end of the meal a glass of brandy was placed in front of him. Thinking this too was a gift from them he proceeded to drink it – even though he doesn’t really like brandy – ‘never look a gifthorse in the face’ as the saying goes. It turned out that the table behind had ordered a glass of this rather ‘special’ brandy and Geoff was drinking the last of the last bottle. The waitress curtly told Geoff that he’d already had his ‘free gift’. Although it was a little embarrassing at the time, over the years it’s become quite funny.
Anyway, I digress. When Café Rouge first opened years ago in Brighton or somewhere other than Gunwharf I don’t recall where, we always went for the Poulet Breton and they still have it on the menu! So, feeling nostalgic I chose that and Gill ordered the bœuff bourguignon. The chicken was very nice, served with mashed potato, leeks, mushrooms and courgettes in a creamy sauce.
Gill enjoyed her bœuff bourguignon too.
We ordered two desserts to share. I just had to have rum baba as I love it and don’t see it on menus often. This was served with crème fraîche. It was nice enough, not the best I’ve had, but not bad either.
The other dessert we had was a fondant aux chocolats with a soft centre (not ‘melting middle’ as described on the menu), and although I recently wrote somewhere that I didn’t care much for chocolate ice-cream, this one had raspberries in it which made it much tastier. Both desserts were fairly small and at £6.95 each we thought they were too expensive. Lucky we had those vouchers.
We each had a coffee afterwards and then had to work out which voucher would give us the best deal. That took some time 😉 We went for the 30% voucher which gave us an extra £1 off what the 40% would have. With a tip the bill came to £20 each. Not bad eh!
By then the sun was going down so we had a walk around by the sea where you can look across to Gosport and Spice Island in Old Portsmouth and then back to our car. The ferry company was still having problems.
Gunwharf Quays have lots of eateries, the vast majority being chains (I’m not even sure there is an independent cafe/restaurant there?).
It’s quite expensive to park in Gunwharf (we never do unless we’re going to the cinema where you get some money off, I sound like a right old cheapskate don’t I? :D) and now the the local council have greedily put parking meters everywhere or only one hour of parking in the area, which gives you no time at all to have a meal although saying that, we sometimes just about manage to have lunch and a cake at nearby Manna in Old Portsmouth (our favourite) and get back to the car within the hour, so be prepared to pay an arm and a leg to park, or better still go by bike – but make sure you lock it up good and proper or sit where you can see it as Portsmouth is notorious for bike theft. There’s always the bus of course, they have a new bus terminal close by with the train station and Gosport ferry too.
Would I return to Café Rouge? Yes, but probably only if there is an offer on, the same goes for the other restaurants at Gunwharf, they are all good for large groups or family get-togethers and you more or less know what you’re going to get for your money.
GWQ’s also have lots of shops, a cinema and ten-pin bowling and it’s nice to walk around by the Spinnaker Tower or even go up it, they serve afternoon tea at the top I hear – I guess we should check that out 😉 There are usually several yachts and boats moored alongside the quay and sometimes you may see a special boat like the Spanish carrack which was there recently, there are also boat trips around the harbour which go from here too. There’s generally a good vibe, especially when the sun’s out and everyone’s eating al fresco. Portsmouth Dockyard is less than a mile up the road where Nelson’s beautiful HMS Victory is kept along with HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose. Gosh, Portsmouth sounds fab doesn’t it! It’s not bad actually 😉
Ambience – 7
Value – with the voucher 8 without 7
Return? Only with a voucher
Living life, loving cake.