*UPDATES*: see bottom of post
I received a text message from my sister the other day asking if it was worth visiting Salt Café at Wicor Marine, Portchester. I replied with ‘Oh yes. Most definitely’. I came upon the cafe on last Wednesday’s cycle ride with friends. One is an old ex sea-dog (sorry Roger) and had heard about the café from fellow mariners, so we opted to try it out on a gloriously sunny September day. An Indian Summers day.
We sat outside and Roger had a really nice looking toastie, ham and gruyère cheese. I half wished I’d had it myself. The rest of us had cakes. I enjoyed a really lovely pecan pie which was packed with pecan nuts. The pastry was crisp and the centre of the pie was lovely and gooey. I spied chocolate brownies in the cabinet and just had to take one home – once I’d made room in my saddle bag. Luckily it arrived home without getting squashed.
I liked it there so much I just knew I had to return and I did so only a couple of days later with Helen and again it was a glorious day once the sun had burnt through all that silly mist the day had started out with.
There were several items on the menu which we both liked, but we decided upon the tomato and Brie tart which was on the specials board and the Coronation chicken sandwich to share.
The tomato and Brie tart was very tasty indeed. It was served slightly warm – although it was almost cold by the time we’d taken hundreds of different photos of it from all angles. This came with a small side salad of rocket along with a couple of slices of fresh tomatoes drizzled with a sweet balsamic dressing.
The Coronation chicken was served in an amazing looking – and tasting – focaccia bread. It was so fresh and delicious I could have eaten it all over again but when Helen’s in town she’s like the food police and watches my every move.
It turned out to be a really hot day so we were thankful for the umbrellas. It was lovely and peaceful just sitting there looking across to the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth in one direction and Gosport in the other with lots of boats in-between with the sun glistening upon the water. On the tables were binoculars which is a great idea to look at the views and to spot small seabirds hopping around amongst the seaweed.
Now and again the peace would be shattered either by a helicopter flying over from Fleetlands in Gosport or some chap banging away on his boat – this is not a complaint by the way (nor a euphemism). Inside is small but cosy, decorated with sea themes, a lifebelt, seagull, fish, lots of lanterns etc., (take note Southsea Beach Cafe).
Helen and I shared the pecan pie and bought a chocolate brownie to take home for the evening. Again the pecan pie was just as good as the one I’d had a few days before. We also enjoyed a tub of ice-cream to go with the pie. This was a creamy tasting Royal Bourbon Vanilla from Caroline’s Dairy, West Sussex, which I have seen available in a few places recently. Along with a nice glass of white wine I also had a really lovely flat white served in a cup which seemed to be perfect for it.
The brownie was amazing. Just how a brownie should be with a slight crisp outside and a very gooey middle. I was lucky that Helen was going out that evening so she only had a little slice of it and so the rest was all mine 😉
From the main road you wouldn’t know that Salt Café existed at all. Not until you approach the marina are their signs for it. From Portchester Road at the Crematorium roundabout there are signs to Wicor onto Cornaway Road. Make a right turn a couple of hundred yards down the road on the left-hand bend into Cranleigh Road and from there you eventually come to the marina. We parked outside but you can park beyond the barrier. Follow the road towards the water and a slip-way and it’s in a low building on the left. I’m not known for directions, so it may be best to head to Google maps…
You can walk from Portchester Castle along to Salt Café but check the tide times first. As you can see there are loads of photos in this post, I just couldn’t stop snapping away.
The service is very friendly and we spoke to the owner who told us that she bought the bread and cakes from The Hungry Guest Bakery in Chichester who also have a café in Petworth – which we have yet to try (we have now, here’s the review ). I’ve mentioned The Hungry Guest in a recent post, they supply the brioche burger buns for The Loft at Sparks Yard in Arundel.
I must tell you that I went again today. They now have a small selection of goods to buy along with fresh bread available on Saturday mornings. I just wish I lived local enough to buy some. The menu had changed very slightly so this time I had egg mayo’ and watercress sandwiches with slow-dough bread. The bread was deliciously fresh again. When I find somewhere I like I tend to keep going back and taking different people with me. This time it was my husbands turn. Geoff had the ham & cheese toastie, minus the cheese as he doesn’t like it. He had different bread which looked fantastic. It was brown bread with seeds in but he ate it before I could take a photo. Damn you Geoff.
Living life, loving cake
UPDATE: May 2017
We visit Salt Cafe every once and a while. We had a lovely lunch in May (twice in one week actually) where I had smashed avo’ feta & bacon on toasted sourdough and crab (if I recall correctly) on the other visit. The chocolate brownie from The Hungry Guest is still the best however we were disappointed in the Victoria sponge cake with cream & strawberries. I do find that some cakes can be hit & miss here. They have expanded slightly sideways, a new room which is dog-free, although then you’re cut off from everyone else, eating alone. Still good coffee and we shall return.
UPDATE: March 2018
I don’t think Salt Cafe is as good as what it once was, especially the cakes, I find them fairly hit and miss. On saying that I did have two very nice cakes today, a lemon & poppy seed muffin and a lemon & lime polenta cake, both very tasty and fresh. Two lemon cakes and about three apple ones on off though? And no chocolate brownies! The coffee is still very good and the shop attached, The Paddle club is worth a browse. I didn’t realise until now (after looking at their website) that The Paddle Club hire out SUP’s and kayaks, I thought it was just a shop.
UPDATE: January 2017
We quite often visit Salt Café especially when the weather has been too icy to get out on the bike, it’s a good hike from Port Solent or Portchester Castle around the shoreline but is worth it and also you burn enough calories to justify a cake, I hope!
Today we did just that. It’s still very nice there and even on a cold winters day it’s lovely to be able to sit outside as it’s in a sunny position. The sausage rolls are enormous and are very good and tasty, although I would have preferred mine to have been served warm and perhaps with a small side salad & coleslaw, it became a bit boring after a few mouthfuls. The flat white coffee is still great. No chocolate brownies from the Hungry Guest today again though, which was unfortunate so I settled on a pistachio, lime & courgette cake. Quite stodgy and I ended up taking it home for later. It was good although I’m not sure it will be my first go-to next time. On our last visit we had what should have been sourdough toast with a few preserves but were given toasted focaccia instead which worked very well. Definitely worth a visit. Note that the menu has changed slightly since our review. There are more picnic tables on the jetty (NOT for your own picnic I wouldn’t think!). Very dog friendly, inside and out.