Going out for dinner, or even ordering take-away inevitably results in a stand-off between Liam and I, who unfortunately have completely different tastes when it comes to food. I am personally always in the mood for pizza, whereas it’s one of the last things he would usually choose for dinner (I know, I messed up there). He loves Indian food, particularly a sit-down Indian meal, whereas I have to be in the right mood for it. My point being, that a food court that serves a range of different cuisines is the perfect solution to the issue of our incompatible palates and means that we don’t have the issue of one person having to compromise.
So I had high hopes when it came to visiting the Outside-In Food Court in Portsmouth last weekend. The concept is simple – a range of local, independent street food vendors nestled around a large food court which also has a bar serving locally sourced beer and wine. What’s not to like? The food court is situated in the heart of Portsmouth so it’s easy to get to – it also has the same easygoing, community vibe as so many areas in Southsea populated by independent shops and restaurants. It’s family-friendly, dog-friendly and they’re very eco-conscious, using bio-degradable and/or recyclable materials. But what about the food, I hear you ask!
It’s fair to say the food surpassed my expectations in terms of the range on offer, the attention to detail and the passion that clearly goes into curating the menus and offerings. We started off by sampling a platter of treats from Dumpling Dumpling – from edamame beans, to a hoisin ‘not’ duck dumpling (so many options were vegan but absolutely not at the compromise of taste – this was a highlight of mine!), Asian street fries, Thai prawn crackers and lots more. It was delicious.
Arepas2go served us Venezuelan corn cakes stuffed with black beans, pico de gallo and vegan cheese. They wery filling and tasty, I’ll definitely be going back to try more of their menu – especially their churros! Natty’s Jerk was another highlight of mine – I’m embarrassed to say that I rather hogged the Mac and Cheese Waffles as they were absolutely incredible and their cauliflower ‘wings’ were great too, again these were vegan as they are fried in their signature ‘vegan buttermilk’. We spoke to Nat afterwards and the passion and enthusiasm for his food really shone through – I couldn’t believe the labour of love that goes into preparing their jerk marinades and seasonings, or how dedicated they are to the authenticity of the cooking methods. No wonder it’s all so flavoursome!
We also tried pizza and garlic bread from The Panormus Pizzeria, and an incredible street food platter from Breeno’s Kitchen, who serve authentic Indian and Pakistani food. Their Masala Fries were great, with just the perfect little kick to them. We also tried their Street Food Platter, with chicken pakoras, samosas and kebabs. We didn’t get to try the burgers from One Tonne Burger Co but we were sat right next to the stall and they looked amazing, I’m definitely going back to try them!
All in all I think it’s obvious that I loved my experience of eating at Outside-In and I’m already planning a trip back. Of course the perfect advantage to the range of food on offer is that it really suits everyone, and no one has to dip out when choosing what to eat. It felt like a really family-friendly and inclusive atmosphere – you could bring young children or come here in the evening with friends and have drinks alongside dinner. I highly recommend paying this place a visit if you’re in the Southampton/Portsmouth area – it’s great to support local vendors and a concept that’s so focussed on community and the environment. Big thanks to Southampton Bloggers for inviting me!