Something of a Fareham institution, Truffles has been in business for over 30 years, but as of 2016, came under new and enthusiastic management. Chef-proprietor James and his wife, Jemma, have combined quality staples, including blade of beef, roast venison, sea bream and lamb, with a variety of vegetable dishes, which are created in a such way that freshness and flavour are guaranteed.
We started off with warm sourdough bread and Loire sauvignon, which is sold by the glass or bottle. Both the à la carte and the set diner menu offers plenty of choice, including the delightfully named lamb scrumpets in salsa verde, chosen by my partner, and smoked mackerel, tomato and roasted pepper bruschetta for me.
For his main course my partner settled on slow-cooked blade of beef with wholegrain mustard mash, buttered leeks and red wine-braised shallots in a Bourguignon sauce – albeit after serious consideration of the roast venison and pork. Each vegetable accompaniment earned its place on the plate, bringing something new to the dish. My bubble and squeak cake – which, according to Jemma, is a real favourite at lunchtimes – was served with a perfectly poached egg, sharp Manchego shavings, red peppers and buttered leeks. It’s hard to get this many different flavours and textures right in one dish, but Truffles did so with aplomb.
Pudding choices were equally inspiring – who wouldn’t want to try spiced, roasted pineapple with coconut ice cream, or lemon posset and rhubarb sorbet with ginger crumble? In the end, I couldn’t resist the Guinness cake and caramel ice cream, while my partner was delighted by the selection of Isle of Wight cheeses.
Truffles maintains a strict policy of sourcing food locally, including meat from Owtons and fish from Portsmouth legends, Johnson’s. The team also offers a lovely set lunch menu, which starts at £13.95 for two courses. After hearing that James originally trained as a sommelier, it wasn’t difficult to see why Truffles offers such a carefully curated wine list. Add to this the ease of parking in the area – it’s not a town where wardens are prowling at night – and this little restaurant, in its intimate Georgian surroundings, is well worth a visit for anyone who appreciates excellent food and drink.