The Belle Isle, Southsea.

by B Thornton- Harwood

The Belle isle.

Students in Portsmouth often seem to be blinkered by Gunwharf Quays when it comes to food offers, sticking to measly 10% discounts in Nandos or taking an Orange Wednesday code to Pizza express for a decidedly mediocre meal when there are far better promotions to be taken advantage of, presenting much tastier food.

One such place will be well-known to many familiar with Southsea; The Belle Isle located on Osbourne Road boasts a stylish interior, a well stocked bar and simple but fantastically prepared food with a modest price tag.

Laura and I visited on a sunny Tuesday afternoon and took seats in the windows which in fine weather are drawn back to let in the breeze. Tuesday’s deal is a beer and nachos for £6- naturally you can have a small glass of wine or soft drink in its place, however they’re surprisingly strict on only serving Coors, which is irritating when Red Stripe is on tap.

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Regardless of alcoholic accompaniment the nachos go down a treat. As simple as tortilla chips covered in other Mexican garnishes are, The Belle Isle transforms them from something ordinary to a real delight for the taste buds- with lashings of chilli, cheese, salsa and two whopping great dollops of soured cream and guacamole.

The dish provides enough bite to give you a little kick but not so much that you start sweating or gasping for water, while is large enough to serve you for dinner or tide a pair over if you just wanted a light lunch.

Perhaps try the “Shipwrecked” mussels- if you want to push the boat out (queue laughter), at just under 4 quid for a lunch portion, cooked in chilli and garlic with a white wine sauce, they come with a couple of huge chunks of lime for a citrus bite and some seriously thick crusty bread to mop up what your spoon can’t get to.

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These on the right day are out of this world, sadly the last time I had them they tasted a lot like the ocean, which is a shame, but reassuring in as much that at least I know they’re fresh and from the sea, and not pulled out of the Asda freezer.

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If you want something lighter then perhaps try the Warm Chorizo, Potato & Halloumi Salad. Now, I’ve never ordered a salad in my life- mainly because I’m male, but also because more than a bowl of foliage is needed to satisfy my ever growing waste line. However simply by adding the fried chorizo and grilled halloumi the dish is transformed into something rather exquisite and unusual, and I would argue that it doesn’t even need to potatoes which do bulk up the plate somewhat but aren’t entirely necessary when the food tastes as good as this. Try adding a big slug of balsamic vinegar to liven up the leaves.

This food combined with friendly staff and a warm atmosphere all add up to a rather enjoyable afternoon out, without having to venture into Gunwharf.

Check out the Belle Isle’s website here or stay up to date by following them on Twitter.

@Benjth11

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