Review: The Old Customs House, Portsmouth

Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays boasts a large array of food establishments all vying for your attention and most of them are chain restaurants and bars, all in the prime location, under the Spinnaker Tower, overlooking the marina.

Ignore them.

Have a wander around the corner, following the old monuments at the marina’s edge and on the left, set back a little, you’ll see The Old Customs House, a pub and restaurant owned by Fullers Brewery and the only original naval building left in the re-developed quays.

It’s a large building with a ‘Brewers Coffee shop’ bar on immediate entry (where you’ll also place your food order) and a main bar to the left serving a large array of beverages, including 6 Fullers ales on tap. It’s a large building with a relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff with an interior that is very pleasant, clean and fresh with a decor that is light and in-keeping with contemporary trends, as well as being very aware of its naval heritage. There is plenty of seating available both indoors and out.

The menu boasts a good range of dishes including Small Plates, Sandwiches, Sharing Boards, Pub Classics, Fish Specials, Summer Specials and Desserts. The menu is like the decor, it’s classic but with a new twist and with extra attention payed to the fine details (they include their own ales in some of the sauces and sausages, the ham sandwich, use ham hock instead of the usual sliced ham). They have good flavour and ingredient combinations that take classic pub dishes to the next level.

I ordered the corned beef hash (including Fullers brown ale black pudding and fried egg) from the Small Plates, with a side order of chips, and the Old Rooster ordered a sarnie with chips. The hash was very good indeed, cooked perfectly and well seasoned, although the fried egg was far too over cooked. The rocket leaves weren’t dressed either, although this wouldn’t have been too bad if the egg yolk was runny. The sarnie was fresh and very good quality, served with chips (which were exceptional), coleslaw and a fresh side salad. All washed down with ales that are kept excellently.

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The Grubby Hen Rating: 

Charm Factor: 4/5

Food: 3.5 /5

Drink: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Overall a very good pub indeed, better than your average. The food is on the pricier side and with this I would’ve liked the chef to have cooked the egg properly, but the menu does provide a good range and the rest of the food we ordered was to a very good standard. It’s a large building, with rooms that will accommodate groups. Friendly staff, good beer, interesting menu and clean, relaxed interior.

Website: theoldcustomshouse.com 

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