What’s all the Hubbub?
Cornish indie burger joint, Hubbox, has broken rank and plonked its latest location right here in Hampshire. Check out what we thought when we got stuck in at this coastal-loving gem.
If you’ve not heard of it, Hubbox is a Cornish mini-chain of restaurants that started out life back in – of all things – a shipping container on Truro’s Lemon Quay. Seven years later the American-inspo restaurant has spread out further along the south-coast with branches in Bristol, Plymouth, Exeter and – its latest addition – Portsmouth.
Opening in the late-Summer, within Gunwharf Quays’s Spinnaker Dining Quarter, Hubbox has caused quite the stir with locals and visitors to the area for their Stateside offerings with a distinctly Cornish twist. One of the big USPs of the brand is the fact they still rely on Cornwall suppliers for most of their dishes meaning to maximise on freshness, they have to be within a certain distance of their home county.
Nelson never looked as good as he does on the restaurant’s super-cool mural. There’s a decidedly rustic-meets-seaside theme here, with exposed wood and brickwork, quirky street art to go with its overall relaxed atmosphere. We visited during the Saturday lunchtime rush and found the clientele was mostly made up of shoppers, young families and those who had stumbled across the joint by pure chance.
The restaurant is split into two “areas”, with a sort of bar/lounge space at the front of the restaurant moving into booths and an open kitchen towards the back. Although it’s mainly touted as a restaurant, you wouldn’t feel out of place popping in for a coffee and to read your emails, or stopping for a few cocktails before heading out one evening.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Surf and turf are the big draws here and there are some decidedly quirky takes on both. Although the restaurant is all about Cornwall, there’s an edge of Americana to it as well, with a menu hosting various incarnation of burgers and hot dogs on its pages.
There was a good selection of what they called “Anti Pasty” (hohoho!) but anticipating gargantuan size portions I dove straight in for the Pit Burger (£10.95), a 6oz beef patty (served medium) topped with slow-smoked pulled brisket, BBQ sauce, American-style burger cheese & winter slaw – crowned with a bun from Baker Tom’s. The meat, clearly stated on the menu, hails from the farm of Philip Warren Of Launceston on the Devon/Cornwall border. Hubby, opting for some of the surf, went for the super-cool sounding Sea Dog(£7.95) which came out looking like the local chippy had a baby with a footlong hotdog.
The mains come without sides, so you need to pick and choose a couple to really make a full meal but I love the flexibility and choice that gives you and is ideal if you don’t have a huge appetite. We plumped for two different sides, selecting some onion rings (£3.50) and a sharer of Boston Fries, which consisted of hand-cut fries topped with the slow n low smoked pulled pork, BBQ sauce & winter slaw (£7.50).
Service was quick and it wasn’t long before we were tucking into our dinner. The beef-brisket and pulled pork were absolutely delicious and I would have contentedly tucked into these on their own. The depth of the smoky flavour in both was a testament to how long they’d been cooking. The burger itself was a perfect size, letting me pig out without feeling major amounts of guilt afterwards. The onion rings were excellent and crisp, not to mention the size of a dinner plate in some cases.
To wash my food down I picked a quirky imported soda, Old Dominion – Black Cherry (£3.60), which was so good that I ended up ordering some on my phone before we left the restaurant. There were also plenty of cocktails and beers on tap, but I was sadly driving (however, there’s a train station right by Gunwharf so no need to make my mistake!)
Desserts the menu was small, but perfectly formed with amusing names given to utter classics. After a long time deliberating between the benefits of clotted and whipped cream, I picked the Brown Derby, made up of a life-ring doughnut, Cornish vanilla ice-cream, and a crushed up Crunchie and my dining companion picked the Smeaton Mess, complete with hot clotted cream fudge sauce and toffee popcorn. Simple, decadent and the kids ended up finishing mine, but not through lack of trying on my part.
Absolutely. The kids were immediately handed crayons and activity sheet menus, that placated them for a good few minutes and the kids’ menu was made up of total crowd-pleasers: burgers, chicken strips, Mac & Cheese, hotdogs and more (all £4.95), all of which came with an ice-cream chaser for the princely sum of £1.50 on top.
OUT & ABOUT
For a spot of historic perusing, you’ll definitely need to check out the iconic Mary Rose next door or head out further out along Southsea’s seafront to visit Southsea Castle where Henry VIII saw his beloved boat head to the bottom of the Solent *sob*.
While Gunwharf is home to plenty of designer outlets, if you’re looking for something more “one-of-a-kind” then take a longish stroll to Castle Road (or you can drive, because the parking outside the shops is free) for unusual outlets such as Pie & Vinyl and Revive Interiors.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Families with small kids and casual lunch/brunchers, those who yearn for a spot of salty sea air will feel right at home (but thankfully shielded from the elements). Vegans also pop along because there are no less than ten options on the menu for your plant-based requirements.
Not for: Those looking for a decidedly Hampshire-feel. Although this has bags of local ethos it’s from slightly further afield. Also if you’re after a full silver service style experience, this is more “eat with your hands and plenty of napkins” type of affair.
The Damage: Cheap ‘n’ cheerful, but without compromising on quality. Most mains range from £6-£14 for a double burger option, sides range from £3 right up to £8.95, desserts were all £6.95. Glasses of wine start from the £4 mark and other boozy-treats include dirty hard shakes for £5.95.
Hubbox Portsmouth, Spinnaker Dining Quarter, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, PO1 3TR. Tel: 02392 828540