The latest addition to Southsea’s eateries proves a treat and leaves a lasting impression on S&C’s food critic, Emily Priest.
The Southsea Deli opened back in February and is a unique place in Southsea – perhaps not for the reasons you may think.
Before becoming a light and airy deli, this property was breakfast and brunch restaurant Jam and Bowler and then briefly an Alice in Wonderland cafe. The new Southsea Deli is a refreshing addition to Victoria Road South and rests between the South Coast Emporium and a nail bar.
Unlike nearby pubs and restaurants, The Southsea Deli is a vibrant place. Visitors pass by a large pristine window decorated with decals, shimmering under the burgeoning spring sun; and inside is just as welcoming as the fresh green exterior.
Above your head as you enter are potted plants aplenty and artwork by local artists. Immediately in front of you, is a cabinet of fresh cheeses and a collection of equally tempting cakes and pastries. Scattered around the rest of the shop are bowls of olives, jars of oil and sauces, and fresh vegetables, alongside a variety of other treats to buy.
As I snapped a few photos and eyed the goods closely, I noticed that most, if not all, of the items on sale were from local producers. There were pastries from Bread Addiction and ketchup from the Tomato Stall on the Isle of Wight. Even the decor was local with a huge jar of flowers from Rose Clover adorning a table. I am sure there were plenty of other local names featured in the shop as well, but too many for me to jot down in one short visit.
The voice of the lady behind the till chimed out as I entered. She told me salads and sandwiches would come down at 12, but as it was just before midday I scanned the delicacies in front of me. The woman told me what they had on offer from filled croissants to a rich chocolate brownie. There were a few vegan treats on offer – always nice to see – but I had already made up my mind.
Ordering a Portsmouth tea, I pointed to one of the handmade quiches and a ham and cheese croissant. The cashier smiled, asked if it was to eat in or take away and when I indicated I’d be staying, she sat me down by the window. I sat happily, quite literally basking in the light.
The Southsea Deli staff are incredibly warm and welcoming. One team member, appearing from upstairs, asked me if it was too cold as they could shut the door. I was fine with the breeze and we talked and laughed for a few minutes.
My food came soon after with a mug of tea on the side. I started with the croissant, a huge pastry that took up most of the plate. I looked it over but couldn’t see any filling. Then I cut it open. Inside, I was greeted by chunks of ham and plenty of gooey cheese. I took a bite and made a little, mouth-filled moan. It was the right mix of pastry and filling but wasn’t enough to fill me up. Maybe a small hole at least. [*No innuendo intended*]
Next was the slow-cooked quiche with goats’ cheese and cherry tomatoes. This was a generous portion with a thick crust and plenty of toppings. I took my fork to it and it fell apart, soft and moist. I put it in my mouth and let out a bigger moan than before. This was gorgeous. The base and crust were buttery and rich and the tomatoes added a tangy sweetness to each bite. Within no time at all, I finished the juicy, moreish quiche and found myself wanting more.
I finished and on my way to pay the bill, was soon distracted by the foody wares surrounding me. I ogled bowls of fresh olives and antipasti, spied jars of ketchup, vinegars and oils and licked my lips at bags of crackers and other nibbles. What was even better were the small sample pots dotted here and there with accompanying bowls of sourdough. I ate a few pieces with smoked oil and then paid up.
The prices were reasonable with the gorgeous quiche costing just over £3. Considering they were from local producers or handmade, I was impressed. I am always willing to pay a bit extra to support the local community.
The only fault I can find with The Southsea Deli – and it’s not really a fault – is that it’s not really a cafe. Yes, you can have food and drinks to have in but it’s a small seating space, and the menu options are limited and not the most filling. This is a lovely little pit stop that does what it says on the label: first and foremost this is a deli.
In that sense, this Southsea eaterie shares the same sort of vibes as Andre’s Food Bar on Osborne Road. You can take away snacks or a light lunch, or fresh, local ingredients for your cupboard. Just like the food on offer, the condiments and other goods are reasonable value with a jar of Isle of Wight ketchup costing £3.15. Of course, it’s not as cheap as the supermarket, but I am sure it will be far better quality.
I will certainly be returning for more of that lovely quiche or some tasty presents for myself or someone else. But this wouldn’t be my first choice for a wholesome lunch and that’s fine. There are plenty of other places around for that and none that do what The Southsea Deli does. And, even if they did, I doubt anywhere else would do it as well.
This deli is a welcome addition to Southsea and a place that makes me proud to be part of the community. Not only are the staff welcoming and the food good quality, but it supports local businesses, from flower shops and artists to bakeries and ketchup makers.
And if the quiche is not enough to make you feel good, that definitely will.
Photography by Emily Priest