We were invited to the grand opening of Carter & Co in Southsea this week and boy, did we have a great evening. Located on Great Southsea Street, this venue used to be the old Italian Restaurant which in recent years had become awfully run down. Father and Son, Steve and Tom Kingsley and their partner Mike only took over the place in December – a bold move in a national lockdown but one that I’m sure will pay off.
We couldn’t believe the transformation as we stepped inside, in just five months they managed to gut the place and deck it out quite magnificently. One thing that didn’t get a complete makeover is the original tiles on the wall which are by a company called Carter & Co and are the story behind the name.
We were greeted with a refreshing glass of fizz and sat in what’s called The Atrium which is a bright and spacious restaurant with plenty of foliage and a gorgeous green and gold bar and really nice ceiling fans which were made from the handheld fan you see in places like Vietnam. Later that night, we retreated to The Library which is ever so cosy, dimly lit, with low chairs, perfect for a date and in our case, dessert, and a nightcap. In addition to the two rooms, there’s also the bar area (The Liquor Bar) which has larger high tables which would be great for groups and there’s a patio area (The Courtyard) at the side of the building where you can dine al fresco. There are also rooms upstairs.
We chose the following four dishes from the small plates menu:
- Sweetcorn Fritters, Smashed Avocado, Chilli Jam
- Pan-fried Prawns, Chilli & Garlic, Lemon Aioli
- Salt baked Hake (which was actually dressed crab instead of Hake), Caponata, Puffed Wild Rice
- Smoked Ham Hock & Parmesan Croquettes, Red Onion Chutney
Our favourite dishes were the prawns which just melted in your mouth and the croquettes which kindly brought us a little taste of Spain. As my other half is Spanish we rarely order croquettes outside of Spain or any other Spanish dishes for that matter. It’s just not the same.
This is one of the rare occasions where we took our chances and it paid off! Seriously, these croquettes were incredibly well-cooked and tasty. In fact, I would even go as far as saying these were better than some of the ones I’ve had in Spain!
All our other dishes were well presented and big in flavour. I loved the sound of every dish on the menu. It was well catered for vegans, veggies and gluten-free too.
We washed down our small plates with a Mojito, a Moscow Mule, and a glass of red wine. The cocktails were all well made and the Mule was served in a chilled brass cup with a metal straw, which was a nice touch. Well presented cocktails are almost as important as well presented food. I noticed they had a good selection of beer on tap including Beavertown, which is a favourite of ours.
We finished the night with the Chocolate & Ale Sponge, Muscovado Ice Cream, Porter Sauce which we shared., although I wish we hadn’t. The sponge was well cooked, moist and bouncy, and the ice cream and sauce accompanied it perfectly. Our friends Meriana and Alejandro had the Strawberries & Cream, White Chocolate Crumb, Basil which looked fantastic.
We were really impressed with the quality of food on offer. If I’m honest we were expecting more of a place to have a few drinks, but we would certainly return for the food. The chef clearly knows his stuff. All the staff were new, some it was their first day, but they were all very attentive and friendly.
Overall we had a really lovely evening at Carter & Co and we’re sure this new restaurant and rooms will do well. Three new openings in one week – Southsea you are treating us!
Living life, loving Southsea’s latest venture!