Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Italian Bar and Grill - Portsmouth

Not the birthday meal the Grubgang had expected this month!

So our second outing of the year was Clair's choice (As it was Clair's Birthday!) and she decided on The Italian Bar & Grill in Great Southsea Road in Portsmouth.
Tucked away off Elm Grove and having been converted from an old pub the restaurant offers loads of legroom and is very spacious. The decor and atmosphere is nice, but this unfortunately is where the compliments mostly stop…
Unfortunately,  Clair felt it was a real let down and feel that the trip advisor reviews are very misleading, as this is where she had found out about the venue in the first place.

Peter felt the service was awful. With no rapport established by the waitresses, no eager to please attitude, and certainly no reason to tip. Dean felt that the service was also very slow and that the waitresses seemed more interested having a chat at the bar then serving their customers. Gemma did note that there was a little banter at the start of the evening, however as the night progressed it became non-existent. Whilst Dave thought the staff seemed friendly enough at first, but it seemed obvious that there was no ownership of their guests; we waited a long time to have our starters taken and when plates were cleared, only half were taken, the rest by a different waitress, and the bill was also wrong…

As for the food, Gemma’s starter didn’t arrive with everyone else, and when we queried it, they informed us she was waiting for a starter she didn’t order! When it did arrive it was just a bowl of prawn and crayfish on a few leaves and smothered in Marie Rose Sauce. Not the most intricate starter but we have certainly experienced better presentation elsewhere. There wasn’t even a slice of bread to go with it!

As for Mike his starter was the Chicken wings and he felt that they had far too much BBQ sauce on them, whilst Dave and Dean had nachos and felt they were nothing exciting. Yes it's hard to get a bowl of crisps and two dollops of sauce wrong, but they said they have definitely had better. There was however a good amount of chips, just not enough sauce. It seemed they were just lobbed in a bowl and sauce splattered on top.

Clair’s starter choice (Garlic Mushroom Crostini) was not too bad, although like the others she had certainly had far superior versions elsewhere.
It seems the only starter that the restaurant excelled on was Pete’s. The combination of Fresh Mussels with a chilli sauce and a chunk of ciabatta was lovely. It had a little kick that was not overpowering and really enhanced the mussels. He was also given a bowl to clean his fingers with, which was definitely needed after he had finished! There were also no closed shells and the portion size was perfect. So at least they got something right…

For her main course Gemma wanted the Lasagne and was a little disappointed that they didn't have any, so she opted for an old favourite of chicken and mushroom carbonara. She was offered penne or spaghetti (which wasn't shown on the menu so took her by surprise) and opted for spaghetti. It was described as being prepared in a double cream sauce… What arrived (when it finally did) looked like it had never even seen a sauce. It was mainly oil (grease possibly) and covered in melted cheese, which made us think it had been sat waiting a while under the lamps in the kitchen. The chicken was tough and overcooked (like leather!) and the amount of oil really put Gemma off the meal. It was not creamy at all and she ended up leaving half of it! This wasn’t even noticed by the staff when the plates were cleared!

As for Dave’s main it was frankly, just horrible. He had the I-Burger with a double patty (half pounder). He was expecting this to be home made. It was supposed to be smoked bacon, onion rings, BBQ and blue cheese sauces. All he could taste was the blue cheese, which there were masses of it (Far too much for the burger to be honest). The patties themselves were the same fare as found in any industrial estate burger van. There was a generous portion of French fries to go with it though. However it doesn't really make up for the fact that he ended up paying £11 for a burger that you can get in any DIY store car park for £3.50 minus the blue cheese and chips.
Mike also commented that his main of a spicy Bean burger was also not very nice.
The only dish that seemed to please was Pete’s… Although The Calzone was very tasty he did ask for no onions and unfortunately there was still some in it. Also the calzone was not wrapped properly and as such some of the sauce had spilled out of the side. It was cooked well though and the Cajun fires as a side were really nice.

So with all this combined together it was a good choice to move on from the restaurant to the local Ice Cream parlour Scoops for dessert.
So all in all, even though Peter had been to the restaurant before and had a far more pleasant experience, the speed of the service was ridiculously slow. The food was mediocre at best and teamed with the bill being wrong, we would certainly think twice about visiting again.

A nicely presented restaurant, but poor food and even worse service     

Marks out of 10.......................................................... 5 (Clair Maskell)

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