Queens Hotel, Portsmouth

Restaurant 1865
Inside Restaurant 1865

Restaurant 1865 new menu

We first visited Restaurant 1865 at the Queens Hotel in 2021 and since then we’ve been back a few times, mainly for their Sunday roast which is exceptional. As I wrote in my review of their afternoon tea, the Queens Hotel has recently undergone a huge refurbishment to restore it to its former Edwardian glory. Its lavish dining room, Restaurant 1865, boasts beautiful high ceilings, plenty of big windows and a cosy yet elegant decor. This spring sees the launch of their new seasonal menu and we were invited in to check it out.

Food blogger
Date night at the Queens Hotel

Queens Hotel for date night

This was a perfect excuse for a date night and a chance to dig out my heels. It was a blustery evening but a pleasant walk down to Southsea seafront where the Queens Hotel is located. As always, a grand bouquet of flowers greeted us at the entrance in beautiful shades of spring yellow and lilac. We were seated at our table which overlooked the garden and asked if we wanted a drink from the Dukes Bar while we looked over the menu. I ordered the Sabbia, a rum-based cocktail with Chambord and pineapple juice. Carlos had a small beer.

Queens hotel Burrata
Burrata with IOW tomateos

To begin

The new menu has something for everyone, from pork belly and scallops (a longstanding classic at the Queens) to a vegan Korean Oyster mushroom burger and fries (new on the menu). The burrata starter with Isle of Wight tomatoes instantly caught my eye, so I went for that. Carlos had the duck liver parfait with onion marmalade and duck fat brioche. Not wanting to miss out, we ended up sharing both. The burrata was delicious and oozed out when cut. The tomatoes were of different varieties and complemented the cheese well. Not usually one for duck, I really enjoyed the duck liver parfait and the slightly toasted brioche too.

Queens hotel duck liver parfait
Duck liver parfait

For the veggies

Choosing my main was a little harder, there were many options to choose from but I also wanted to save room for dessert. At the restaurant’s launch a few years ago, I really enjoyed the pork belly with scallops and this is now served with a pea purée, lyonnaise potato terrine, purple sprouting broccoli, honey and mustard sauce. It sounded great and really something quite special but I don’t eat a lot of meat these days so I wanted something veggie.

The aubergine and cashew tagine, one of the vegan options on the menu, isn’t something I’d usually expect to find at the Queens Hotel but it sounded great. I absolutely love aubergine and cashews in equal measures and I wasn’t disappointed. When the large bowl of tagine was placed in front of me I was impressed at the generous portion size. Then came the lemon and coriander couscous, sweet potato falafel and grilled flatbread on a separate plate – it was a feast for a king!

Queens Hotel vegan
Aubergine and cashew tagine

I thoroughly enjoyed this dish. It was flavoursome and had plenty of roasted aubergine and cashew nuts, as well as an array of seeds and grains. The couscous was Israeli style, so bigger grains, and was packed full of flavour. The sweet potato falafel and flatbread were great too. This dish was huge and incredibly good value at just £17. Our waitress recommended the vegan burger so next time I’d love to try that, especially if the fries are as good as the chunky chips.

Queens Hotel steak
Carlos’ steak

For the carnivores

Carlos had the steak and chips which was slightly more expensive at £26, as you’d expect for a decent chunk of meat. He’s a little fussy with his steak (not as fussy as me!) and said that the meat was of great quality and of good size. The ribeye steak was from local Southsea butchers, Buckwells, so we expected only the best. The triple-cooked chips were incredible and I may have pinched more than my fair share. He would definitely have it again.

The choice of main courses includes an equal number of meat, fish and vegan dishes. There are what I call fancier dishes like the market fish of the day and the roast chicken breast and more casual dishes like the Queens burger and good ol’ fashioned fish and chips. This makes Restaurant 1865 great for a relaxed dinner or for something more special like a date night or birthday.

Queens hotel spring menu
The new menu

Something sweet

I’ve been eyeing up the new desserts on Instagram as I follow the Queens Hotel’s pastry chef and I already had my mind set on the rhubarb and custard tart. Again, this was a good-sized portion and very well cooked with a slight nutmeg flavour within the custard which I really like. It reminded me of the custard tarts I used to have around my nans when I was a child.

Queens hotel paris brest
Paris Brest

Carlos is not yet a converter of rhubarb and prefers something chocolaty so he went for the chocolate Paris-Brest which we’ve never tried before. The Paris-Brest Beast was incredibly indulgent and was filled with crémeux and chocolate ganache and served with chocolate soil and ice cream. For all the chocoholics out there, this one is for you!

queens hotel flowers
The Queens Hotel’s beautiful entrance

Our verdict

We certainly got a good taste of the Queens Hotel’s new A La Carte Menu and I’m sure we will return to try some of the other dishes on offer. This was all washed down with a bottle of their house Merlot which is very tasteful. The service was friendly and attentive, but not overly intrusive – exactly what you want on a date.

If you’ve never dined at Restaurant 1865, it’s time to check it out. It’s a lovely venue for a date, a special occasion or just a casual dinner and it’s reasonably priced too. Executive Chef Simon Hartnett and the team have done a great job with the new menu, both coming up with the dishes and executing them at a consistently high standard. You can browse the new menus and book a table on their website.

Service 9
Quality 9
Value 8
Ambience 8
Return? Yes
Overall 9/10

Living life, loving 1865

H x


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