Portchester, on the outskirts of Portsmouth is famed for its English Heritage castle, but it is also home to a little-known café, hidden away at the Wicor Marina Yacht Haven. It’s definitely one to hunt out if you’re a fan of sourdough toast, good coffee and amazing cakes – all served up with a coastal view.
There’s an outdoor balcony where dog-walkers with their mutts, bobble hats and books enjoy the chance to be outdoors, accompanied by a slice of cake and and a hot water bottle picked up from a basket by the back door.
The undeniably quirky Salt Café looks out over an estuary between Cams Golf course in Fareham and Portchester Castle, on the coast path. A small card and gift offering is dotted among wooden tables, garden chairs, succulents, tea lights and an old-fashioned scrolly school blackboard which takes you right back to your primary school days if you’re of a certain age.
A pontoon jutting out into the estuary, with picnic tables and lobster pots, is all apparently submerged when its high water, but it’s an excellent spot to watch the world go by if it’s low tide. The café, we’ve heard, is always busy, a sure sign that the food is good and the walks on the doorstep special.
We visited for a Friday birthday brunch. Our menu options included, among others: full English; smoked salmon sandwich with dill mayo; French onion soup topped with a melted cheese crouton; or the most enormous crispy pastry hot sausage roll served on a board with a tube of English Mustard. We went for sourdough toast with smashed avocado, feta, smoked crispy bacon, chilli flakes all topped with an oozy poached egg and pea shoots.
Clearly that wasn’t enough for us for this particular elevenses outing – so we followed up with a slab of courgette cake with pistachio and lime – shared so we could pretend we weren’t completely greedy.
If you’re looking for a more substantial meal, one Tripadvisor review recommends “Bunny Chow”, a South African curry in a Cob loaf, as “to die for” accompanied by a 7% cider to make the walk home more interesting!
The Salt Café is both cosy and quirky, far more bijoux bistro than greasy spoon, perfect for cyclists, dog-walkers and families. Check out its location before you set off – it may be off the beaten track but we can definitely recommend it as a destination for a weekend walk and a warm-up winter treat to bring a glow to your cheeks this January.