on March 17, 2013
Pie and vinyl - an odd combination, I hear you say. But this is Southsea’s first and only (to date) record café. Situated on the fascinating Castle Road, it is close to Palmerston Road shopping precinct and Southsea Common yet far enough away from the crowds. I had been in to browse the vinyl just out of curiosity and to buy gift vouchers just before Christmas, but it wasn’t until the middle of March that I finally got to sample a pie.I met my brother and his wife there early one Thursday afternoon. It’s a tiny place with only about four dining tables at the front while the vinyl is on display at the back of the premises, beyond the counter. My brother had got there first and secured a table for four people, and the other tables were all occupied. It seemed that as soon as they were vacated, they were occupied again, such is the popularity of the place. At first I considered sampling a slice of homemade cake, but my sister-in-law fancied lunch so I decided I would have a main meal too.There is a good variety of pies to choose from, and they are listed on a board on the counter as well as on the menus that are kept on the tables. Just one was no longer available and had been erased from the board. The choice includes steak, chicken, venison, ham hock, fish and one or two vegetarian options. Some of the pies come from local butcher’s Buckwell’s on nearby Osborne Road, while others are made in the West Country by Pieminister. A pie on its own will set you back £3.75, or you can plump for a meal deal which consists of a pie, creamy mash, mushy minty peas and gravy for £6.50. My sister-in-law chose a steak, ale and stilton pie while I picked the fish pie with smoked haddock, salmon and pollock. I think my brother also chose one of the steak pies, possibly with real ale or red wine and mushroom, but I am not absolutely sure which.I always like to sample the coffee when I go to a new eatery. At Pie and Vinyl they serve Fairtrade coffee in a cafetière for £1.95. They have an interesting range of cordials including rhubarb and rosehip, cream soda, and elderflower and apple at £1.75 per pot. My brother and his wife decided to share a pot of lemon and ginger flavour. There are also various teas, some of which come from the Portsmouth importer and blender, "All About Tea." The cordial was served in an elegant, tall china teapot with half-pint tankards to drink from. One of them bore an inscription from the Hampshire town of Petersfield. The cafetière of coffee came with a tiny cup and saucer which I refilled several times, and a small china jug of milk. The teaspoon was unusual and delightful. Sugar was already supplied on the table in a silver pot with a lid.Not surprisingly, the pies were served on vintage china plates. My pie was a round one placed in the centre with the mash and mushy peas around it. We had salt and pepper on our table and were asked if we would like any sauces, but none of us did. The gravy came in a china boat that was a souvenir of South Parade Pier and Gardens in Southsea - a superb vintage piece. I poured some gravy on my pie without thinking and then wondered if it would go with fish, but I actually enjoyed it. The top of my pie had a sprinkling of cheese, and the pastry was very good. There was an abundance of fish inside in an excellent sauce. I was definitely impressed and glad I had decided to choose pie and mash. I saw tempting notices about bread and butter pudding for dessert, but that would have been just too much for me. What’s more, I was sitting in full view of two homemade cakes, a mouth-watering chocolate one and another that was possibly lemon drizzle. But cake on top of pie would have left me overfull. It will be a good excuse to go back one day and try a pot of tea with either dessert or cake.There was of course music playing in the café, but the volume was low enough to make conversation easy. Most of the music, on vinyl, that is sold on the premises has been released during the past two years, although my brother commented that he had noticed some of Radiohead’s back catalogue among the current offerings. Both record covers and posters are displayed on the walls of the café, and posters are for sale. Pie and Vinyl also hosts live music events, details of which can be found on their website. April 20th 2013 is not only Record Store Day but also Pie and Vinyl’s first birthday, and Band of Skulls will be performing live in the café at 1 pm. I know my brother is a regular customer at Pie and Vinyl, and I certainly intend to go back, having already encouraged my son and his partner to try the place out. It is run by two young men who are very welcoming and have clearly made a huge success of this original venture in its first year. If you enjoy traditional British food, ethically and often locally sourced, in unusual surroundings, I heartily recommend that you make a visit. Those who wish to add to their collection of vinyl will find an added incentive, and you can of course buy records and other merchandise from Pie and Vinyl without having to enjoy the food. It is close to the seafront as well as the main shopping centre, but allows you to escape the crowds for a while.You may be lucky enough to find a place to park on Castle Road itself, but if not, try Western Parade beside Southsea Common, which is just a few yards away. Opening hours are from 10am - 7pm Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; 11am - 9pm Thursday Friday and Saturday; 11am - 5pm on Sunday.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009