Newest Review: ... week day, if the car park was full up then it could be a problem trying to park near the restaurant. The car park is flat and there... more
A decent roast that doesn't cost the earth
Member Name: frangliz
Advantages: Reasonable price; can spend hours undisturbed in the pub area
Disadvantages: Crowded, which means queueing for food
he Toby Carvery would not normally be my first choice of restaurant, but I was having lunch with two friends and the Hilsea restaurant is situated about halfway between their homes. Added to that, there is a good-sized car park there, and the prices for the carvery are very reasonable. I had to agree it was worth trying.
We arrived just before 1pm on a Saturday. The place seemed pretty busy, but we were lucky enough to be able to get a table straight away. If the restaurant area is full, you can have a drink in the adjacent pub area. A waitress took our drinks order; one of my friends ordered a diet Coke and was told she could have unlimited refills. We then had a look at the menu.
Starters feature cheesy garlic bread (£1.75), melon jumble (£2.50) and garlic mushrooms (£3.50) among others. The carvery offers beef, gammon, turkey and a vegetarian option accompanied by Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, roast potatoes and mash with a choice of vegetables and gravies. The lunchtime price is £5.75, and in the evening it is £7.95. You can choose more than one type of meat if you wish, and you can go back for second helpings of vegetables. On Sunday roast pork is served too, and the carvery price is £9.49. If the carvery is not what you're after, there are other mains to choose from. These include salmon or hake fillet, and lemon and pepper chicken or chicken tikka salad. In the evening curries are served on Mondays to Thursdays, rib of beef and beef stroganoff on Fridays, and roast lamb or chicken and tarragon cobbler on Saturdays.
We decided to go for the carvery. We did have to queue for it, but not for very long. I chose to have turkey but refused the offer of a Yorkshire pudding as they looked a bit flat. I helped myself to stuffing, carrots, peas, cabbage, cauliflower and a crisp roast potato. Over to one side were several sauces and a choice of gravies; I decided that the vegetarian gravy would be the best choice, even though I was having turkey. The food was actually very good except for the cauliflower, which could have done with cooking a little longer. We were hardly able to finish what we had helped ourselves to the first time, let alone go back for seconds.
Desserts range from dairy ice cream at £2.70 to chocolate cheesecake at £3.95. Others include fruit crumble, lemon meringue pie, treacle sponge and Eton mess. On the day we were there they were offering £1 off all puddings, but we were too full to take advantage of this. Tea and hot liqueur chocolate are available as well as a range of coffees.
There is a mini carvery for children under ten that includes a vegetarian version and also chicken breast with mash and peas. Children's puddings range from raspberry jelly at 55p to Belgian waffle at £2. Fruit Shoots are among the drinks on offer.
The place was so busy that it wouldn't have been fair to stay in the restaurant area, so we asked for the bill, which came to just under £21. I did notice that the diet Coke cost about 80p more than my fruit juice, so you do in fact pay extra for those unlimited refills. We walked through to the pub area and found a table with a comfortable sofa and armchair in the far corner. I wouldn't like to tell you how long we sat there chatting undisturbed. Background music is mostly pop, but the volume isn't loud enough to make conversation at all difficult. The pub section of the building resembles a huge barn; one of my friends used to live in the area and said there had originally been a farm there, so they may have reconstructed what was actually a barn.
Food is served in the pub area too, but the menu is a little different. You can have a carvery sandwich, a cold sandwich or a hot baguette for £3.95. There are also salads, light bites and several hot dishes including a vegetarian lasagne at £5.75.
The Toby Carvery serves breakfast from 8am, probably because it gets plenty of clients from the Travelodge that is situated right next door. There is a full English breakfast, including a vegetarian version, as well as various savoury muffins, toast and jam. Tea and coffee are unlimited.
A takeaway service includes cooked breakfasts, the carvery menu and puddings. A quiz night is held in the pub on Fridays.
The combination of the restaurant and the pub suited us as we don't often get together and wanted to be able to sit and chat without being made to feel that we had outstayed our welcome. The carvery was certainly very good considering the price. With the number of independent restaurants close to where I live in Southsea, I wouldn't go out of my way to return to the Toby Carvery, but it was a very good location for that particular occasion. I'm sure it is a popular place for families, and I noticed on the menu that toddlers can have a plate and share their parents' carvery at no extra cost. If you enjoy a roast dinner, have a good appetite and don't want to pay the earth for a meal out, then the Toby Carvery might be for you.
Carvery opening hours: 8am - 11am (for breakfast) and noon - 10pm, Monday to Saturday; 8am - 10.30am (breakfast) and 11am - 10pm on Sunday.
Pub opening hours: 11am - 11pm Monday to Saturday; 11am - 10.30pm on Sunday.
The Toby Carvery
Summary: Not my usual choice of restaurant, but it suited us that day.