Strong Island Co.

Food & Drink

‘Dice’ Kickstarter Campaign

Local boys Lee Purslow and Rikki Parsons have just launched their Kickstarter campaign to open ‘Dice’, Portsmouth’s first ever board game café.

Inspired by the rise in board game cafes in Canada and America, but more recently in the England with ‘Thirsty Meeples’ in Oxford, and ‘Draughts’ in Hackney. They want to open a place to relax with your friends or family, eat good food, drink fresh coffee and challenge each other across the table.

Lee and Rikki have invested a large amount of private capital but admit “we need some extra funding to make sure we can create our full vision. We will not be personally drawing any money out of the café, so all of your funding will go directly into making Dice the best it can be. We will use this funding to renovate the venue to the required standard, grow the board game library and purchase the necessary equipment to offer a full food and drinks menu.”

If you are not aware of what Kickstarter is, it is a global crowdfunding platform which launched in 2009. The aim of a Kickstarter campaign is to raise money for a project which could be anything from a film, games, music, art, design and technology. The project creators choose a deadline and a minimum funding goal. If the goal is not met by the deadline, no funds are collected.

Check out the link below to find out more about the the project and the full range of rewards available for anyone who wants to get involved. With donation rewards starting at just £5 please get involved and help make this original project happen!



dice logo

One Eyed Dog Mural by Jack Mitchell

Many of you will have seen the One Eyed Dog has undergone a facelift recently. The brilliant new mural comes courtesy of local boy Jack Mitchell.

After graduating from the University of Brighton and several stints at small companies in London Jack returned to Southsea and joined premier design outfit ilovedust. After a year spent travelling the world Jack returned and is now the senior designer based in the Brighton branch of ilovedust.

I love the mural and how detailed it is, you can spend a long time surveying all of the awesome (and slightly random) images. Jack describes “I really wanted to design something striking and that will stand out.” The pressure was on to make it good because Jack lives nearby and will be passing it on a daily basis. Jack stated that he “created small scenes featuring characters and local landmarks to highlight the quirky nature of the pub and some of the colourful ‘shanters’ in and around the Southsea scene.”

If you like what you see then you can follow Jack on Instagram @jack_mitchell1 and on Facebook at Jack Mitchell Design and Illustration.

One Eyed Dog Artwork

One Eyed Dog Artwork

One Eyed Dog Artwork

One Eyed Dog Artwork

One Eyed Dog Artwork

One Eyed Dog Artwork

The photos come courtesy of Howard Hurd, you can find more of his work on Instagram and Twitter @HowardHurd.

Spring Onion – New Sushi and Asian Bites Store in Southsea

Over the road from Strong Island Co we’ve been seeing the progress of our new neighbour Spring Onion with anticipation. In the last few weeks the new sushi and asian bites store has been developing and over the last week or so the store has opened up to the public. Tomorrow sees the official opening of this fresh, tasty asian street food store which is fast becoming our favourite local lunch spot.

Spring Onion has a wide range of freshly made (daily in store) sushi, with a variety of nigiri and rolls all packed with clean flavours. salmon with avacado and spicy chicken sushi katsu are already favourites and looking forward to trying the many other options, with new options all the time. As well as sushi there are homemade curry, rice pots (awesome by the way) and so much more. All really reasonably priced, cleanly packaged and come with chopsticks and soy plus ginger & wasabi if you want it.

Be sure to check the store tomorrow when it officially opens, for more information visit the Spring Onion Facebook page.

Blissfields Review 2015

It has taken a few days to process the whole of last weekend, but now the majority of Blissfields festival is slowly coming back to me. We were blessed with glorious sunshine, high temperatures all weekend. On Friday night we even witnessed a lightening storm aluminate the night skies without a drop of rain following behind, proving that it really never rains at Blissfields.

I arrived on site Thursday afternoon with some of Portsmouth’s finest. Some lovely faces from Blissfields past were on hand to greet me and that fellowship and community spirit can be felt all over the festival.

Another local band Popobawa were the first band booked for the festival so it was only appropriate that they officially opened the festival on Thursday lunchtime. This was the first time I’d seen Popobawa since they played their first ever live show together as a band at the Road To Blissfields 2014. They didn’t win on the night but were booked for this years event on the strength of their debut live performance.

Portsmouth was well represented over the weekend with performances on the Thursday evening from ska and reggae band Bigtopp who had the large crowd dancing and even demanding an encore which the band enthusiastically delivered. Big Child Man Child continued with the dancing theme and even surprised the crowd with dancers of their own to entertain the audience.

On Thursday night two large tents turned up next to mine belonging to Brighton based band Mok. They all seemed like a nice bunch so I went to check out their set in the Now and Den tent. They put on a top show performance with a style that I wouldn’t know how to describe, Lee from the band explained to me they like to think of it as New Wave Rap. It’s always nice to come back from a festival and finding new musical gems. Hopefully they will come join us in Portsmouth in the near future!

The Larch Stage had familiar faces taking over on the Friday with Floella Grace, Sam McCarthy, Luke Ferre, The Boy I Used To Be and our Strong Island Recording’s Curxes performing. It was great to hear Sam’s rendition of ‘Deep Blue Sea’ which he admits was inspired by our tee of the same name. Floella opened the Larch Stage and put on a mesmerising performance. Later on in the day she met her namesake and fellow singer songwriter Flo Morrissey who had on a lovely performance opening the Singularity (Main) Stage.

Flo Morrisey and Floella Grace
The Flo’s – Photo by Si Gross.

Later on the Singularity Stage Blissifelds veterans the Dub Pistols were greeted by the kind of boisterous crowd we have come to expect during their performances and they loved the Pistols typical high energy performance. For me the main stage was the place to be for Friday evening because of performances from Ghostpoet, Public Service Broadcasting and the Horrors who headlined the evening with a cracking performance and an equally impressive lightshow.

For me Friday night was a late one spent at the Blisscotheque with the lovely press team who took a rare moment off work to let their hair down.

Most of the festival goers were up and about nice and early, mainly because by 7am most tents were already turning into mini saunas! The previous evening I was blown away by the Original Fry Up Material‘s burgers, so I thought that I would try their breakfast muffins and I was not disappointed, they were equally awesome and just what I needed to prepare myself for the day. This van was certainly the culinary highlight of the weekend, keep an eye out for them at a festival near you.

After spending some time with friends relaxing in the craft area I witnessed Cosmo Sheldrake work his magic on the Singularity Stage. I was lucky enough to meet him afterwards, they say never meet your heroes but on this occasion that expression was proved wrong, what a nice guy! During his set you would struggle to find someone in the crowd who wasn’t tapping their foot or nodding their head to Cosmo’s infectious tunes.

Local highlights of the day were the boys from the Kassassin Street who battled through technical difficulties to wow the crowd with signature anthems ‘Centre Straight Atom’ and ‘To Be Young’. They were followed by Isle of Wight band Plastic Mermaids who succinctly proved why they are the most exciting band on the planet at this precise moment in time!

While everyone was being wowed by the Plastic Mermaids in the Now and Den Stage, Grandmaster Flash was playing some classic Hip-Hop on the Singularity Stage. He was followed by DJ Will Chump who continued the hits playing with great aplomb after suffering a nightmare journey getting to the festival. The perfect way for me to end the festival was with Glass Animals and John Grant. Glass Animals are a band I’ve only recently been introduced to and in my opinion their new album ‘Zaba’ is one of the best the year so far. If you are a fan of the xx and Friendly Fires then I suggest you get involved!

Over the weekend I was asked to curate the Spoken Word event in the A-Z Tent. If I am honest I knew very little about spoken word at first but the more I researched and the more I spoke to those involved the bigger fan I became. I would like to thank Selby, Craft D, Rex Domino, Blizzard, Roya Shadamand, Toby Campion, Spike Zephaniah Stephenson and the A-Z stage team for helping to make the event a huge success. Special mention has to go to Rex Domino, the general consensus of the audience was that he was arguably the strongest performance of the whole festival and if that isn’t a statement to do Portsmouth proud I don’t know what is.

Last of all I wanted say a huge thank you to everyone involved in making Blissfields the best small festival on the festival circuit! Now I will be resting for a few days before I start getting excited and beginning the Strong Island build up to Victorious and Bestival.

Dub Pistols Blissfields
The Dub Pistols
Ghostpoet Blissfields
Horrors Blissfields
The Horrors
Blissfields Craft Area
Blissfields Craft Area
Grand Master Flash Blissfields
Grandmaster Flash
Glass Animals Blissfields
Glass Animals and the above photos by Tony Jupp

Kitsch N D’or, Eldon Street

Kitsch N D’or is a family run restaurant in Eldon Street, Southsea. The restaurant and it’s owners specialise in provincial French cuisine and believe that the key to their success is good food at affordable and realistic prices, that everybody can enjoy.

All ingredients used to create their dishes are sourced locally. Where possible ingredients come direct from France, using small, independent companies to enrich a sense of community and authenticity.

The menu includes delicious options including, slow cooked pork belly, served with butter mash and a French cider mustard Jus and Harissa baked cod fillet with chorizo Migas with a hot, green pepper salsa. All can be enjoyed with a flavorous bottle of wine.

The Kitsch N D’or is definitely worth a visit. Entertainment includes regular Jazz nights with performances that won’t disappoint you. They run a great value daily lunch time deal, you can get two courses for less than £10 between Tuesday to Friday!

The restaurant also runs some great wine tasting evenings, these are held throughout the year with the next on this Thursday (18th June). Contact the restaurant directly for more information on this and to book a table. You can find contact details on the website





Pie & Vinyl New Summer Menu

Last Saturday our friends over at Pie & Vinyl introduced some really exciting new pies to their menu, as well as some old favourites. There are not just the new pies, there is also a new range of pasties available plus some delicious sweet pies, perfect with a healthy dollop of ice cream.

Another great addition to the menu is their ‘Seed to Salad’ campaign. In conjunction with Southsea Greenhouse, the guys have been very busy bees growing their own salad on the Pie & Vinyl allotment, which will be available along with red cabbage coleslaw as a Summer alternative to mash and peas. Seed to Salad is an attempt to do their part in becoming more environmentally aware and grow as much produce as they can themselves, giving their customers the peace of mind that the salad on their plates has been planted, picked and prepared by the team, locally.

The P&V drinks menu has also had some new additions, incorporating classic cordials and some amazing new tea blends from Wonky Tea in Wickham.

Be sure to drop in the Pie & Vinyl Cafe in Castle Road to get stuck in plus you can always find out more information on the new menu, new vinyl and much more at:

Pie & Vinyl New Summer Menu (1)

Pie & Vinyl New Summer Menu (2)

Pie & Vinyl New Summer Menu (3)

Café Rouge Gunwharf Quays

Café Rouge in Gunwharf Quays recently unveiled their redesigned restaurant and new menu, which boasts authentic French cuisine and I had the pleasure of sampling their beautiful French dishes and wine.

We arrived for our booking at peak time on a Friday night and were pleasantly greeted by the maître d who was extremely welcoming and friendly.

Shortly after sitting at the table our waiter for the evening came over to introduce himself and see if we were ready to order. We had a few questions about some of the dishes we wanted and he happily explained which really helped with our choices.

Cafe Rouge Menu

Choosing the wine was one of the easy bits. I adore a quality French Bordeaux and hits the spot every time. When our waiter brought over the wine I was in awe of the bottle opening presentation, it was fantastic. It really took me back to our trip to Paris a few years ago.

Cafe Rouge Bordeaux

For our starters we had Crevettes, which is king prawns in garlic and smoked chilli butter with baked in-house baguette. These were probably the best prawns I have ever eaten and the butter was just incredible. I’ve never had anything like it.

Cafe Rouge Crevettes

My husband had Plateau De Charcuterie, which is smoked saucisson and wild boar saucisson with caper berries. He said it was so flavoursome and the portion was generous.

Cafe Rouge Plateau De Charcuterie

For our mains we both went for what we felt were French classics – Boeuf Bourguignon and Confit De Canard (duck). My beef was slow-cooked in red wine with smoked bacon, mushrooms, baby onions green beans, carrots and herb mash. It was divine. The beef was so tender and the mash was so jam-packed full of flavour and so creamy.

Cafe Rouge Boeuf Bourguignon

My husbands duck was slow-cooked with French beans, dauphinoise potatoes and a cherry sauce. It was so succulent and aromatic with a crispy skin to perfection. The cherry jus superbly complemented the dish.

Cafe Rouge Confit De Canard

Desert was an easy choice. I love cheese and the French do it so well, so without hesitation I ordered Selection De Fromages served with water biscuits, candied figs and celery. On ordering, the waiter made and excellent suggestion of red wine to compliment the cheeses and he was not wrong.

Cafe Rouge Selection De Fromages

The whole dining experience at Café Rouge was faultless. The waiters seriously know their menu and provide a personable and professional service. I would certainly give them 5 stars for food and service. The refurbishment is wonderful, it really feels like a Parisian bistro, giving you a real taste of France and the subtle atmospheric music provided a great ambience.

To find out more about Café Rouge Gunwharf Quays and their menu click HERE.


HUIS, or HOME in Flemish, has been a long time coming. This gestating project was born from one man’s desire for a career change and a love of Belgian beers. For a number of years Simon had expressed an almost whimsical desire to open up a Belgian themed bar, and each time I heard him discuss it two thoughts sprang to mind: yes please and good luck getting the council to approve an alcohol license for beers that ran into the 11%. Portsmouth and Southsea has always held a tough stance on alcohol, in fact this is the only city I know where you can still be IDed well into your thirties. If pink burgers are deemed an issue then surely selling bottles of Delirium Nocturnum on Elm Grove has to be a no no? Thankfully this was not the case and HUIS, Southsea’s first Belgian bar, got the green light. And what a fantastic place it is too.

From top to bottom, the décor and branding oozes Retro Flemish Cool™: from the minimal clean lines and muted colours to the vintage adornments peppered around the bar. Everything has clearly been carefully considered and thought out. But let’s get down to the real business; what about the beers? Is HUIS going to settle with passing off entry level Affligem as a top dollar import? You bet not. Simon has drawn from his extensive knowledge of Belgian beers by creating a thorough drinks list that is sure to meet even the most fastidious of palates (Delirium, Rochefort, St Barnadus, Duchesse de Bourgogne and many more). And guess what? No matter the percentage nothing breaks the £5.20 mark; a conscious decision that is sure to keep me, and many others, returning. Not one for strong beers? The in-house HUIS draft beers (wheat and blonde) also provide a great alternative if you are after something a little lighter. Food wise you will be treated to hearty traditional fare such as moules frites, flammenkuche and jarred de porc. Ideal accompaniments for thick treacly beers. Dessert wise look no further than the next level banana, ice cream and chocolate waffle.

HUIS is a welcomed addition to Elm Grove, a tough and long old road which has perhaps always struggled with it’s identity slightly. However compare Osborne Road now to what it was like five years ago and the difference is like chalk and cheese. Or beer and cheese as is the case now. If anything HUIS is another great example of what creatively fertile ground we live on. For a long time it has felt like Southsea nurtures the ideal ecosystem to get your niche business ideas off the ground. After all it really wasn’t that long ago that two unkempt beatniks decided to peddle records and pies on Castle Road, and they seem to be doing alright.

Simon, any chance of some Gouden Carolus in those beer fridges?

You can give HUIS a like here and a follow here, for extra photos hover your cursor here and gently click on your mouse or track pad.








Portsmouth Beer Festival

Last weekend saw the return of Portsmouth Beer Festival. After the huge success of the May 2014 and Christmas sessions, the Portsmouth Beer Festival team were back.

The festival is “a celebration of craft beers and cask ales alongside a selection of ciders and draught beer”. The team had clearly done their research with the array of beers they had on display. With an eclectic mix of beers, ciders and ales, and tasting available, there was no room for disappointment.

On entering the beer festival you were given your ‘official tasting notes’. This was your beer bible. All the drinks, brewers and anything you wanted to know to help you make your selection was in this booklet in an easy A-Z format. As well as this you got a choice between a half or a full pint Portsmouth Beer Festival branded glass, for all your drinks that night which was a great souvenir to take home. Plus you received a free beer token (the value of half a pint).

Official Tasting Notes and Glass

Entertainment at the festival was well covered. There was a games room featuring a few classics – ‘play your cards right’ and ‘hoopla’, raising money for Samuels Fund and Rowans Hospice and a steady hand game by Sam FM.

Play Your Cards RightSteady Hand Sam FM

Outside in a ready-made beer garden were the food stalls, the smell was wonderful. Providing the food was Flip Burgers and O’Hagan’s BBQ and Hog Roast. It was a toss up between a perfectly crafted burger, a “no artificial anything” hot dog, or a hog roast. I decided to go for the hog roast as I was enjoying the cider.

Headlining the festival was The Southsea Alternative Choir (TSAC), supported by Mr Big Stuff and Fleetingwood Mac. It was the first time I had seen any of the bands, and was truly blown away by their performances. Particularly TSAC who played wonderful renditions of a variety of songs with the lyrics on a projector in the background for the whole crowd to join in.

The Southsea Alternative Choir 2 The Southsea Alternative Choir

The mix of festival goers was diverse, ranging from 18 – 50+. It was great to see a such a variety of people of all ages connecting over something they loved. The atmosphere was fun and friendly with a combination of good music, entertainment and a fine selection of beers and ciders.


The Portsmouth Beer Festival is due back this December for another fantastic event, which I am already looking forward to. To find out more about the charities at the festival visit and

Portsmouth Beer Festival – This Weekend

This weekend the Portsmouth Guildhall will be hosting the second annual Portsmouth Beer Festival.

The festival will feature plenty of beers brewed from all around the UK. The team behind this weekends Portsmouth Beer Festival have put out the list of beers that you can expect to see at the festival this weekend but please note that this is subject to availability.

Thornbridge, Saltaire, Mad Squirrel, Tiny Rebel, Northern Monk Brew Co., Magic Rock, Great Heck Brewing, Beavertown, Dark Star, Titanic, Ilkley Brewery, Gipsy Hill, Arbor, Wild Beer, Vibrant Forest, Burning Sky, Liverpool Organic, Brass Castle, Naked Beer, Staggeringly Good, Wychwood, Sunny Republic, Siren Craft Brew, Milk Street, Triple FFF, Mallinsons, Longdog, Sharp’s, Irving & Co., Bowman Ales, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Southsea Brewing Co., Upham, Hopback Brewey, Suthwyk Ales, Langham, Sixpenny Brewery, Joseph Holt, Exmoor Ales, Thwaites, Arkells, The Great Yorkshire Brewery, Merrie City, Belhaven, Marston’s, Ringwood, Belma and Bank’s.

There will also be plenty of awesome food available along with live music from bands including the Southsea Alternative Choir, Jerry Williams, Fleetingwood Mac, Bog Rolling Stones and Elasticated Waste Band with many more to be announced soon!

Tickets are now only available from Meat & Barrel, Leopold Tavern, Brewhouse and Portsmouth Guildhall box office and online.

You can follow the event and receive updates on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Portsmouth Beer Festival 2015

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Vintage Photography – Sunny Southsea

Following on from photos of The bandstand and Tennis Courts the other week, here’s another scan from Khalid.

Back before East Jet in the late 1940s, early 1950s people flocked to Southsea seafront. Check the beach huts near Canoe Lake. Dozens of them and the Paddling Pool which is now occupied by the Sealife Centre. Love the little train to the right of the picture. Click for a closer look.

Local Photographer – Duncan Allan

We recently mentioned local photographer Duncan Allan’s framing skills but we also want to profile Duncan’s creative photography too. With a wealth of knowledge in different cameras and experimentation in many different techniques (both with film and with Photoshop and Lightroom), Duncan has a strong collection of images from the local area and all around the world. Here are a few of our favourites but they are just the tip of the iceberg, to see more check Duncan’s Flickr.

Red Scale

Portsmouth – Not The New Malta

Do you remember our post about Portsmouth, The New Malta and the advertising campaign that has been going on? The Telegraph has written a short article in response to the campaign. Check it out HERE and follow it up in the comments. Unfashionable, now come on Telegraph.

“We probably get about two weeks of sunshine at best, and you are more used to seeing people fighting than socialising in a quaint café,” said Tim Courtnell, a life-long Portsmouth resident. “The beach at Southsea is a mixture of shingle and Stella Artois cans on most days, and you wouldn’t think of swimming in the sea.”


Local Designer/Photographer – Weaver

I just found these great illustrations from local web designer and photographer Weaver on one of my random web travels. I’m loving the Hilsea Lido and Carlton Cinema depictions. Check out Weavers Flickr for more Portsmouth illustrations and a whole bunch of local photography and more besides. They would make amazing prints i think you’ll agree.

Amazing Vintage Naval Posters

I found these truly amazing posters on one of my many Flickr travels. All circa 1930s and all fantastic. Click the images for the direct links to Flickr.

Southsea Typeface

When ever possible I like to do the odd piece that’s just for me, just for fun. This came about off the back of something I was doing for work. Messing around with pens and pencils, then putting it through the computer. Maybe I’ll tackle Strong Island at the weekend! Oh, and for those that know him it’s Borneos birthday this Friday. KST then on to Albert Road. Be sure to check my flickr photostream to see the carnage.

Click the read more link to see a whole variety of colours.


It’s going to be a Strong Movember

Righto chaps, it’s time to clean shave your boat race and get that mighty moustache on the grow in support of Movember for The Prostate Cancer Charity and the Institute of Cancer Research. For 30 days of November you can help support and raise awareness through selflessly parading your top lip for charity.

You can sign up yourself, as I’m sure many of you already have, or you can join the Strong Island team and seek out sponsorship as a team. Through the Strong Island Movember page you can ask people to join the group, make donations, upload photos and post updates via the MoSpace page, Facebook and Twitter.

Head over to our MoSpace if you would like to get involved and grow a Strong Moustache to help raise awareness, or simply head over to and sign up to personally raise money.

The funds raised in the UK support the number one and two male specific cancers – prostate and testicular cancer. The funds raised are directed to programmes run directly by Movember and our men’s health partners, The Prostate Cancer Charity and the Institute of Cancer Research. Together, these channels work together to ensure that Movember funds are supporting a broad range of innovative, world-class programmes in line with our strategic goals in the areas of awareness and education, survivorship and research.

Poster: Tristan Savage

Fog Lights!

I love fog, even more so at night time because all the street lights are on and it’s like this weird eerie zombie town. People appear out of no where and even cars creep up on you before you notice them in the deathly silence of the fog. I watched, or should I say waited, as the the Hovercraft came over from The Isle of Wight. I could hear the roar of the engines for five minutes till I could actually see the craft as it pulled on to shore. Spooky.

My little point and shoot isn’t much cop in low light fog but there are a few more over on my Flickr

Spinnaker Tower

Soaring 170 metres above Portsmouth Harbour and the Solent, the Spinnaker Tower is taller than the London Eye, Blackpool Tower and Big Ben and has already established itself as a national icon for Britain. Get yourself down to Gunwharf Quays and check out the panoramic views over the city and the Solent. Don’t forget your camera. Oh, and if you’re a Portsmouth resident you get cheap entry if you provide proof.

Local Photographer – Pompey Shoes

I’ve been following Pompeyshoes on Flickr for a while now, yet somehow missed this great shot of a sunset down on the seafront. Be sure to check his Portsmouth & Southsea set for more great photos and interesting perspectives.


Strong Island Clothing Co.