“ Eastern Parade, Southsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire,PO4 9RF. Tel:02392 830 009 „
My wife and I went to 10th hole for breakfast this morning after a 6 month hiatus. We quickly realised that it was under new management by the rationing policy that has been put into place. The vegetarian breakfast is less tasty, missing quorn sausage and hash browns. The full english is about the same but the price has gone up and neither breakfast comes with complimentary fruit juice as it used to. There is no toast with the vegetarian any longer, the portion has been reduced with the full english and butter rationed. Worst of all there is a much lower cross section of cakes. I understand the economic pressures of taking on a new business in this difficult climate but the new management have gone too far. There are now better breakfasts to be had in Southsea and I think we will be looking for somewhere new for our relaxed mornings. We are really disappointed as it used to be so good. There is more to running a business than pure economics - customer loyalty and satisfaction for example. Bring back the old regime!
Every few weeks I meet up with a couple of old schoolfriends for Saturday lunch. We usually go to the Vegetarian Greenhouse Cafe, not because we are vegetarians, but because they never mind how long you sit and chat at your table. Before leaving, we always fix another date a few weeks hence. As we decided (back in June) on a mid-August Saturday, we thought it would be the height of summer and that The Tenth Hole on Eastern Parade, near Southsea sea front, would be the ideal venue.
When the day came, the sky was heavy with grey clouds but at least it wasn't raining. We managed to find a free parking space very close to the tearoom. The Tenth Hole is thus named as it is right beside Southsea Golf Links, a nine-hole pitch and putt course. But we had no intention of playing golf, or of watching the cricket match that was going on just the other side of the tearoom. We were after lunch.
The Tenth Hole has more tables outside than in, but as we entered the premises we found that all were occupied and that there was a long queue of people waiting to be served at the counter. We wondered if we should go back to the car and head off to our usual vegetarian haunt. Then I mentioned that the previous Saturday I had queued for two and a half hours to see the Banksy exhibition at Bristol Museum, and that this queue was really nothing in comparison. We each picked up a laminated menu from the pile on a garden seat and started taking a look at the mouth-watering main courses and cakes that people were enjoying at the tables around us. Before we knew it, we were part of the queue.
Things moved fairly quickly, and one of my friends decided to grab a table inside the tearoom. It was one of two in the area adjacent to the counter and had plenty of space around it, whereas the tables in the main room are rather close together. It was only about ten minutes until our turn came to order. Two of us decided that a salad with one topping - we both chose tuna - seemed like a healthy option. These were £5.95 each, but for £6.95 you can have two toppings. My other friend ordered a bacon, lettuce and tomato baguette with potato crisps for £4.95. Two of us asked for cappucino, which was a very reasonable £1.30, while the third thought a pot of coffee was more desirable. She was unable to resist the spectacular array of home-made cakes, so to avoid queueing again she chose a slice of apricot and yoghurt cake for herself as well as a piece of peach and fig cake to take home for her husband. My only criticism of our experience was that the pot of coffee was just that: a pot of coffee. My friend had to go back to the counter once for a mug and again for a jug of milk. Paper serviettes and sachets of sugar are supplied on the tables, but customers help themselves to cutlery, sauces and butter or Flora from a stand by the counter.
When we had paid our hot drinks were served and we were given a wooden spoon with a number on to identify our order. It wasn't more than a few minutes after we had settled ourselves at our table that a waiter brought our food. We had thought salad was a light choice - how wrong we were. It was served on a large round plate with a bowl of mixed salad in the centre. On one side was a small bowl of tuna with mayonnaise and another of new potatoes. There were also three or four slices of baguette on the side of the plate. The bowl of salad was crammed with an amazing variety of ingredients: penne pasta, coleslaw, lettuce, grated carrot, cucumber, sweetcorn, cherry tomatoes, grapes, pineapple, small slices of orange and a physalis decorating the top. The only disadvantage I can see is that some people may not like so much fruit mixed in with a savoury salad, but for me it was perfect. The tuna was topped with a slice of lemon and was delicious, but it can be ordered without mayonnaise if you prefer. My friend decided to empty the three bowls onto her plate, and it looked like a huge serving. I kept mine in its individual containers and ended up leaving some of the bread and lettuce. The BLT baguette was given a definite thumbs up, and the bacon was apparently particularly lean.
After such a generous serving of salad, my friend felt that the best idea was to share her slice of cake with us. I couldn't manage more than a couple of small forkfuls, but it was certainly a wonderful cake. The sponge was very soft and was topped with a mixture of yoghurt and apricot slices, so we didn't feel too guilty.
Our plates were cleared away fairly promptly but we were not pressured into vacating our table. As three o'clock approached, however, the queue had not diminished at all. I had seen people go outside with trays of drinks and come back in as there was obviously nowhere to sit. We felt it was only fair to leave our table for someone else.
I did visit the ladies before leaving. There were two self-contained toilets with washbasins and large but clean towels inside. A couple of baby-changing mats are provided. One door only had a gents sign on it, and I presume this was self-contained as were the ladies.
The Tenth Hole is open until dusk every day except Christmas Day; in the summer it opens at 9am and in the winter at 10am. Breakfasts are served until noon, and if you don't like the sound of our salads or baguette there is a selection of hot food such as jacket potatoes, lasagne or cottage pie as well as soup. The cakes are just out of this world, ranging from cheesecake to autumn fruit tart to chocolate cake to berry pavlova. Whole cakes can be ordered for collection at a cost of £30 each. If you are not watching your weight and are feeling really naughty, you can have summer high tea at The Tenth Hole for £25 for two people. I bet it's worth it, but I daren't think about it too seriously.
The Tenth Hole prepares all its food freshly on the premises, and at the counter it displays a list of local establishments that are the source of its supplies.
This would be a delightful place for an al fresco meal on a sunny day, where hanging baskets and flowering plants adorn the surroundings. The beige and dark brown of the interior is somewhat dull in comparison, but there are plenty of paintings to brighten it up. You cannot bring prams and pushchairs in, but high chairs are available.
I highly recommend The Tenth Hole to anyone living in the area or visiting Southsea. Admittedly we had to queue and it was crowded, but this was a warm Saturday in August. During the week, outside of school holidays, the place might be a little quieter. Parking, as I have said, is free on Eastern Parade and the nearby side streets. If you are travelling by bus, the nearest stops are at the bottom of Festing Road for the number 6 or Highland Road cemetery for numbers 17 and 18. In each case you will have about five minutes' walk to the tearoom. It's well worth it.
The Tenth Hole Tearoom
Southsea Golf Links
023 9283 0009
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