Bonjour mes amis, I have found a new love – cheese! I’m not sure that it will ever replace chocolate and cakes but it comes very close. So I was delighted to find a new place opened up in Southsea, Portsmouth which had a French theme and contained lots of cheese. Cheese & Cheers!
Geoff and I hadn’t been able to get a table again in one of our favourite places Southsea Coffee Co in Osborne Road, Southsea but luckily, across the road was Cheese & Cheers and we’d looked at their menu only a few days before. A perfect excuse to check out the joint. They’ve only been open for 6 weeks and I hope they do well because I really like it. I even returned yesterday with my sister and almost went there the day before that but a friend I was with wanted to go elsewhere. Boo, bad friend 🙁
Inside are wooden tables and benches, not the comfiest of seats normally but as it wasn’t a three course dinner we were sitting down to it didn’t matter quite so much, plus there are some cushions to sit on.
The proprietor is French and also the young waitress, both very friendly and welcoming. There is a breakfast menu, a lunchtime menu, a cheese tasting menu and on-line I found a sandwich menu but didn’t come across this on both my visits.
I decided to order one of the cheese tasting dishes, 4 cheeses with fresh bread and a glass of house wine. All for only £10.70 which I thought was pretty good value. I was asked what sort of cheese I liked but I don’t really know much about cheese so I said just decide for me please, I’ll eat anything.
A little card came with the dish with the names of the cheeses on from left to right. They have a counter at the front of the shop with lots and lots of cheeses so if you like a particular one you can buy it to take home.
My meal came beautifully presented with a tiny grape, tomato and gherkin sliced through and arranged upon the slate (I normally hate slates but with cheese and things that aren’t going to roll/fall off onto the table I don’t mind). Plus a little pot of onion chutney. Each cheese was named and explained to me, whether you eat the rind or not. The bread was lovely, three different types and I was good enough to share them with Geoff.
Geoff, poor chap, doesn’t like cheese so we asked for the pasta with lardons which didn’t sound as if it had any cheese in…. but then we were told that the gratin would make it a 10-15 minute wait. Aha, ‘gratin’ = cheese! I explained that my husband doesn’t like cheese so could we have it without the gratin please? The sauce had cheese in it. Oh dear. He decided to have it anyway as we hoped it would be a very mild one, which he occasionally eats without knowing it. There was a French onion soup which I heard the people on the next table mention that it was the best ever, so they’d obviously liked Cheese & Cheers enough to return. But the French onion soup has slices of toasted bread and melted cheese on top. He could have had the broccoli and blue cheese soup without the cheese, but decided against it. Stick with the pasta.
Thankfully the pasta was fine and very tasty and not too cheesey. I know, a silly place to go to when one doesn’t like cheese but Geoffrey is a good egg and knew I wanted to try the place. There were lots of pastries in the window, croissants, pain au chocolat etc., and also some savoury cakes with mushroom & crab for only £1.25 to take away which looked very nice and I meant to buy one to take home but forgot.
We both enjoyed a really lovely panna cotta each, again beautifully presented. We finished our lunch off with an espresso each which was very nice.
I returned a few days later with my sister, Gill. We had arranged to go over the hill to a country pub but I just had to take her to Cheese & Cheers. Thankfully she loves cheese.
We arrived before lunch but were told this wasn’t a problem, we could either have lunch or breakfast as it was not long after 11am. We decided upon the breakfast menu, the same each, the traditional savoury breakfast. This came with either an Americano, espresso or tea.
A slate arrived bearing three different mild cheeses. Mild for breakfast, medium for lunch and strong and smelly for the evening we were told. Again we were told which each cheese was and explained about the rind. We had a savoury muffin, a slice of savoury bread which you could also buy to take away, this had lardons and peppers in, half a French baguette, two domes of salted butter and again grape and tomato sliced and arranged attractively on the slate along with a handful of walnuts.
The Americano was very nice so we each ordered another. Everything is very fresh and I really cannot fault the place – apart from perhaps the benches but that’s a fairly minor niggle. It looks very nice inside with lovely old black & white photos of France on the walls plus some old wine crates used as shelving, a large wine barrel in one window and of course a beret, there had to be a beret somewhere. I didn’t however, see any onions strung together, nor a man in a stripy top sporting a moustache, but perhaps I wasn’t looking properly. The toilets are very clean and brand new.
Afterwards Gill and I each shared a pain au chocolat and an apple sponge (not sure the correct name for that was), again both very fresh indeed. I saw a friend at the gym the other day who also commented on the place, she was leaving as we were walking in and she thoroughly enjoyed it as did the people she was with.
I wanted to go back there today but Geoff wanted to go somewhere else, mainly because of the cheese issue. I do find it hard to find people who like cheese so if anyone wants to go there one day with me then please give me a shout 😉 It might be a good idea for them to just do a couple of dishes which don’t have have cheese in or ones that can be served with or without for those of us who have fussy husbands and friends.
Ambience – 9
Quality – 9
Service – 9
Value – 9
Returnability – most definitely, every day if I had my way
No doubt about it, I’ll be back and I can’t wait.
Living life, loving cheese!