The Belle Isle, Chichester

My friend was coming down to visit so I needed somewhere nice for us to have lunch! The Belle Isle has been open a few years now in Southsea but I’ve never eaten there, I’ve only had a few drinks there for a friend’s leaving do. I have walked past it a few times but the menu never really enticed me as they offer Mexican food such as  burritos, fahjitas, nachos… you get the drift (I’m not too keen on Mexican food). My eyes never went past these hence I’ve never stepped foot in there for food. After closer inspection they offer a real mix bag of cuisine which I guess is good for me! They have jerk chicken, asian beef salad, mussels, etc.

I decided to take my friend to Chichester for the afternoon on Saturday and try out new The Belle Isle, it opened in March this year. A friend of mine recommended the food so I thought it was about time to try it out! The Chichester branch was huge, I liked this as it didn’t feel cramped and claustrophobic which the Southsea branch definitely is when it’s packed! There was range of seating areas such as the couch and low table area, the stool and high table area, the dining table and chair area and the outside conservatory area! I think you can order food and eat in any of those areas. We stuck to the traditional dining area!

We ordered a starter of hummus, pitta & olives (£3.95), two mains to share, which were Alabama hotpot (£8.95) and shipwrecked mussels with crusty bread (£9.95) and because I was driving, cranberry juice for me (£2.50) and summer fruit mojito for my friend (£6).  The starter came out prompt and soon after the mains were served. The service was good and there were a lot of staff who were pleasant and efficient.

The olives were massive and I was glad that they included black olives as they are my favourite. Overall it was good, nothing special. The size of the olives made it, plus it being served in a Heinz baked beans tin was a cute touch.

Cranberry was fine, would be nice if it was a bigger glass as you can see they put in a lot of ice. The summer fruit mojito was very tasty and refreshing, if I wasn’t driving I would have had more than a sip, though it was a little pricey at £6.

The dishes that impressed me the most were the mains, both of them. I ordered the Alabama hot pot as I love belly pork and sweet potato! Plus before coming here I searched online for a picture and that satisfied my curiosity. The pork was tender and melted in your mouth, the sweet potato was soft and helped soak up the sauce nicely. The sauce had spice to it, though not over powering, it had a gentle hum of chilli which was nice and warming. It came with potato wedges which tasted fine but I would have preferred rice to help soak up the tasty sauce! The mussels were generous in portion, I was impressed with the size of the mussels, because of the size, they were plump and very succulent indeed. I liked that they were not cooked in the usual cream and wine, instead it was chilli and lime. The only down side for me was the bread that it was served with, they had over toasted this. I would have like it fresh and not toasted, this way the bread would have been able to absorbed more of the sauce. I think we could have got away with getting the smaller starter portion of the mussels as we did leave a good few.

Overall 8/10 for the Chichester branch. I went to the Southsea branch recently, that’s a different story!

31-32 Chapel Street, Chichester.

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