With Helen home over Christmas it’s not long before she’s off on her travels so we thought we’d check out The Garage Lounge (Bakery) in Southsea precinct together (originally they were calling it The Parlour). I’d already been 10 days before with a friend and liked it – although I had a couple of personal niggles – so I took Helen along to see what she thought. It has a nice ambience with light music in the background and the staff are friendly. Inside the cafe is decorated nicely with wooden floors, wood panelled walls with little wooden tables. Along one wall is a banquette seat covered with a nice green tartan with scatter cushions. At one end near the garden, which has decking ready for the summer, is a large window/doors, a fireplace – not working but with ornaments above on the mantelpiece, and a couple of rather more cosy armchairs giving it the feel of being in a sitting room. The long counter where they prepare the drinks etc is along another wall. A large thick and heavy curtain separates the cafe from the front of the shop where you order/purchase cakes etc., to take away or eat in but it does get a bit chilly/draughty when people hold the door open for too long.
I don’t like the idea of having to queue up at the front of the shop to order a coffee where the server then shouts out across to the other counter where you then queue up again (it’s not quick) to wait for it, plus having to look at what’s on offer – the quiches on display are not in a chilled cabinet but actually out for everyone to look at, cough or sneeze over. If you’re not alone each one of you has to get up to take a look. I was in there alone one day and wanted another coffee and I had to take everything with me apart from my coat. In fact, I ordered an espresso and it really wasn’t nice, in future I shall stick with their flat white which is much nicer. I much prefer sitting down with a menu and waitress service which is far easier and less stressful, for me anyway, but perhaps that would push the price up. There were plenty of people coming and going, quite a few regulars by the sound of it so it seems quite popular as is their other cafe in Albert Road, Southsea not too far away with the same name but without the ‘bakery’. I’m afraid I don’t really like the Garage Lounge much either. Although I’ve been several times I haven’t been recently, I do know lots of people who do like it though and we’re all different with different tastes. The world would be a boring place if we all liked the same things wouldn’t it?
When I came here last time they had their Christmas decorations up which made it look and feel extra cosy. I ordered cranberry & fennel toast served with butter and raspberry jam. The bread tasted very fresh – they bake the bread upstairs – more like a brioche. I couldn’t taste any fennel but I did spread the jam rather thickly so that was possibly my mistake. Very nice though. It was New Year’s Eve when Helen and I visited and we shared a goats cheese, sausage and pepper quiche with a little sprinkling of salad leaves on the side of wooden boards – one of my pet hates along with slates, I just find everything falls off especially salad leaves. The quiche which was served warm was both fresh and tasty. We also shared a pulled pork and apple panini. This was served slightly warm and again was fresh. The quiche and panini along with two flat whites came to £15.
We’ll we couldn’t leave without having a cake could we? There was huge selection of cakes, lemon cake, carrot cake etc., with lots of delicious looking cupcakes of every flavour you can think of. As Helen is so indecisive I thought it would do her good to order the cakes. She came back with a chocolate brownie and white chocolate millionaire. The chocolate brownie looked quite soft in the middle, it wasn’t as soft as it looked and not quite squidgy enough for me. Although the white chocolate millionaire was very sweet I think I preferred that one. After Christmas and eating tons of sweet things I thought I’d had enough of sweet sickly things but it seems not. A thin layer of shortbread on the bottom, a nice soft toffee centre and topped with white chocolate, cranberries and pistachios. Back in October around Hallowe’en time they had recently opened the front of their cafe – work was going on in the background behind the shop front refurbishing it for their grand opening – serving cakes and drinks and a young lady was in the precinct offering bits of cake to passers by, we had a little nibble on one and decided to sit outside to eat one of their lovely looking cupcakes, topped with bright orange icing and sprinkled with stars and bats.
Although all these moans and groans of mine sound perhaps as if I didn’t enjoy my experience of the garage lounge, I will most likely return, indeed I have done already, it’s just my personal opinion of what I like and don’t like. Did Helen like it? She agreed with me. The cakes, although lots of choices all looked a little like charity event tray bakes, not round sponge cakes, just sponge cut in to squares with icing on top, nothing which would wow you and I did find it difficult to make a decision not because they all looked delicious but because nothing made me want to have one. Whereas when I go to my very favourite place in Old Portsmouth, Manna Tearooms which is just over a mile away I can never make up my mind because they all look fantastic, which they are and consitant. Also, we wanted to use their wi-fi whilst we were there to blog but they ‘couldn’t find the password’.
I shall definitely return to the Garage Lounge though even though I’ve moaned about a few things, but the coffee was nice and as I said before, it had a nice feel to it.
Living life, loving cake