Funnily enough, I had recently been thinking that we should probably look at a few more pubs in Portsmouth, then my Dad turned up and said he thought we hadn't looked at enough pubs in Portsmouth, so you can guess where we went this week.
After some on line research, including a look at the menu, Dad had selected The Clarence Gardens for our lunch appointment. Being in North End, we weren't sure what the parking would be like, but it turns out that there is a very convenient car park round the back. Upon entering we both felt this seemed more of a locals drinking pub than a foodie pub, which seemed at odds with the menu Dad had been looking at. Never the less, we sat down with a drink and got on with our business. The menu did indeed read like that of a gastro pub, a million miles away from your old school boozers offering of sausage and chips or a bacon sandwich. Further examination showed that this is very much in the Wetherspoons ilk of pubs. You can get an astonishing amount of food here for very little money, some meals even coming in around £6 including a drink.
After contemplating the beetroot and camembert pie, I was eventually lured in by the less refined chicken trio burger (£7.99). Luckily, Dad kept things a bit classy with the lamb shank pie, topped with minted mash, (£10.27). We did also order some garlic bread to munch as we came to grips with our surroundings. As we talked and chewed, we worked out that you could have a three course meal for two here, for about £25, if you ordered the right things, that could even include a drink each as well. There is certainly no arguing with that value.
When the food was delivered, it all looked pretty good. My burger contained a buttermilk fried chicken breast, pulled chicken and two chicken strips with Louisiana sauce. There was also lettuce, gherkin and onion. The burger was very good, everything as it should be and nothing to disapoint. The chips were surprisingly good and I even got a tub of coleslaw. Dad's pie was good too. The lamb shank was mixed with lamb mince underneath the minted mash. Dad wasn't quite sure about the mint being in the potato, but the pie as a whole was good, and came with vegetables. When placing the order, Dad was asked if we would like onion rings with the burger, to which he replied yes. This would cost £1.99. That sounded like a pretty good deal, and also fitted with the bargain prices we had already encountered. It turned out that those onion rings were just three in number, and now seemingly at odds with the knock down prices mentioned earlier.
We found this a hard one to judge. As always judging is a very personal thing, depending on what kind of pubs you like and what your budget is. If you like city pubs and are looking for a bargain feed, this is the place for you. We couldn't find anything wrong with our food, in fact it was pretty good. Unusually, we thought that the brewery were worthy of some credit here. The food is clearly not made from scratch on site, but the menu has been designed and produced in a way that works. A good standard of pub food which can easily be recreated at a low cost.