“ Gunwharf Quays Shopping Centre, Gunwharf Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO1 3TA.Tel: +44 2392 837574 „
If you want to eat out at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, you are spoilt for choice. However, one Saturday I was to have lunch with a friend who suffers from allergies to wheat and dairy products. That rules out sandwiches, pizza and pasta amongst other things. She didn't want a heavy meal and chose to go to Cafe Giardino, which is just opposite the entrance to the Spinnaker Tower.
The weather was fine and we decided we would sit at one of the many outside tables in the shade. No parasols are provided, so you can sit in bright sunshine if you wish on a fine day. Giardino's is a self-service eaterie, so we joined a short queue at the counter where you can study the menu that is displayed above as you wait. The salad ingredients and sandwich fillings are all displayed at the counter; there is an appetising variety and everything looks perfectly fresh. We watched an assistant preparing a sandwich and remarked on how generous the filling was.
I considered having a prawn or tuna salad but had had several salads at home during the week and fancied a change. Amongst several pasta dishes on offer was a ricotta and spinach canelloni at £5.95, but eventually I decided that as my friend was ordering a jacket potato I would do the same. She decided on a coronation chicken filling and I picked tuna at £4.95. There were several fillings for £3.95 such as egg mayonnaise, cheese or baked beans. We were told that the jackets would be brought to us shortly and we moved along to the drinks counter. The assistant there was not British, and when my friend asked for a lager she thought she had said latte. A request for beer met with the required drink. I ordered a regular cappuccino at £2.20. As we were paying, our jacket potatoes were brought to us.
The round tables and folding chairs are in aluminium and are comfortable enough. It was just after 12.30pm and we found a table in the shade quite easily although the outside area was busy and rather noisy. By the time we finished things had quietened down considerably. I did think it was a shame that there are several restaurants on the Waterfront that have a good view of Portsmouth harbour whereas at Giardino's you are confronted with the base of the Spinnaker Tower, the entrance to it and the queue of visitors.
The jacket potatoes were a good size and well cooked - not overdone. The fillings were certainly generous, and my tuna was mixed with mayonnaise as well as a few herbs. The salad alongside mine was pathetic to say the least; it was just a few bits and pieces of iceberg lettuce and cucumber. My friend seemed to have a little more with hers, perhaps because the coronation chicken filling is a pound dearer than the tuna. I think there was an option to have a side salad and I hadn't asked for it, but what they had given me was really rather pointless. My cappuccino was very frothy and nicely sprinkled with chocolate, but the taste of the coffee itself was just average. The previous Saturday I had had a cappuccino at the Tenth Hole that was ninety pence cheaper and just as good.
No-one came to clear our plates away or make us feel that it was time we left, so my friend took her time over her lager. That is a point in Giardino's favour, especially since we hadn't seen each other for about eight months and had plenty of catching up to do.
There are no toilets in Cafe Giardino itself, but there are public ones and baby-changing facilities right next door.
The food is good enough and I would say Giardino's is recommended if you are looking for a light lunch or a snack. They do have a small selection of cakes at the counter too. If, however, you are intending to have a main meal, there are plenty of other restaurants in Gunwharf Quays that have more extensive menus and are also situated in locations with more interesting views. Even for a light lunch, I would say I prefer That Great Food Place.
R013 Gunwharf Quays
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