Everything says ‘rural’ on approach with a mature twin façade of differing heights and dark paintwork hiding the varied drinking and dining options which await.
Step inside and you are confronted by a selection of intriguing and enticing nooks and crannies and stripped wooden floors.
Various original saloons reveal tucked away tables and a beautiful original bar.
That’s downstairs. Go up and you’ll find a large renovated upstairs dining area which is ideal for parties.
However, what makes The Bridge so attractive to so many, is its position – sitting beside the sea, albeit Old Portsmouth’s historic fishing harbour.
For those not familiar with this institution of an inn, there is a huge outdoor seating area which is perfect for eating and drinking beside the water, although keep a close eye on any children in your group which is the only reason the ‘child-friendly’ category on the scoreboard is marked down.
It’s there that you can become hypnotised watching the tide ebb and flow while fishermen unload their catch which you could be eating shortly.
It’s one of those places you feel as if you should be on holiday to be allowed to enjoy – and we’re lucky enough to have it on our doorstep.
We arrived to our reserved circular table in a secluded window position delighted to find it decorated festively for our party of four.
We ignored the Christmas menu – too much turkey to come!
Instead, we chose from a huge and varied everyday menu.
There’s a vast choice of seafood, meat dishes galore and the very sensible option of ‘small plates’ for some dishes.
For starters (all £6-£7) we chose garlic mushrooms with toasted sourdough; deep-fried brie with chilli jam (delicious aroma and tasted even better); broccoli and stilton soup (home-made, naturally, and a meal in itself), and locally caught seared scallops with a lemon wedge. All the portions were generous and beautifully presented.
Mains beckoned of old favourites, steak and kidney pudding, quiches, the highly recommended lamb jalfrezi; seared duck breast, and home-made beef lasagne.
We ignored them all. Our dining companions opted for a huge freshly-cooked haddock and chunky ships with mushy peas (£15); a stylishly presented sausage and mash with onion gravy (£15).
Your Dish Detective and companion both chose scallop thermidor – five fresh beauties in three shells in a cheese sauce. It came with new potatoes and chargrilled asparagus (£15).
We are experienced seafood eaters and can state hands on hearts that this was one of the finest seafood meals we had ever eaten.
Desserts? No way. We were seriously stuffed with top quality food chosen from a wide-ranging menu.
I defy any diner to be unable to find a dish to enjoy and, in these troubled times, at such keen prices.
This is top quality pub food served in a truly charismatic pub environment on a quayside. If Covid stops you attending put it in your diary or make a note on your phone for later.
A welcome aspect of The Bridge’s menu was the modest £3 charge for sides of chips, new potatoes, salads and fresh veg, even though most were included anyway.
Lyn, calm and courteous doing front-of-house, and Dave, the chef, are experienced licensees who deliver the ultimate dining environment based on quality, comfort, value and choice.
And then there’s the final piece of the dining out jigsaw – smiling service from the staff.
THE BRIDGE TAVERN OLD PORTSMOUTH: (023) 9275 2992
CHILD FRIENDLY: (very close to the water)
A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.
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