THE Rockstone in Bevois Valley has only been open a matter of months but its reputation has grown fast.
So fast, in fact, that if you are planning on eating there on one of the busier evenings, it would be worthwhile to book your table in advance or arrive early.
The pub – which has had a full refit since going from being The Bevois Castle to The Rockstone – is becoming known as a destination venue for food, good drink and a friendly atmosphere.
The owner, Max Greenwood, has set out to create a country pub in the heart of the city and he seems to have succeeded – The Rockstone has a friendly atmosphere where not only the staff chat to you but so do other customers, a rare thing in a city centre pub these days.
The pub has a traditional feel, with a very well-stocked bar, offering a wide range of drinks including an array of wines, ales and spirits from the kind you’d expect to find in a bar to some decidedly fancy ones.
We had reserved a table in a window, by the roaring log fire, which was very welcome on a chilly evening.
As well as the menu – which features an impressive amount of local produce – there are daily specials to choose from.
On this occasion, these included T-bone steak, game pie, ‘Ragu Against the Machine’, and patatas bravas.
The staff have clearly had fun with the menu.
Look out for The Lamb Shank Redemption, Billy the Squid and Ham Hokalypse Now, to name a few.
That said, this is no novelty bar.
The menu offers a wide range of dishes to satisfy everyone from those looking for a snack to serious diners out for a three-course meal.
As a vegan, there were some dishes on the menu that could be adapted for me, but both of the vegetarian specials were also vegan, so I opted for them.
I started my meal with patatas bravas – crisp cubes of potato in a spicy tomato sauce. It was a good sized portion that tasted freshly cooked.
My partner chose the hot and spicy chicken wings from the regular menu. Again, it was a generous portion, with three chicken legs and two dipping sauces.
The chicken had a smoked flavour and it would be easy to believe it had come from a Texan barbecue rather than a Southampton kitchen.
My main meal was a ragu with butternut squash and sweet potato and delicious fluffy couscous.
It was another really good sized portion, especially given that at £6 it was the price of a starter in some restaurants!
It was delicious, spicy and healthy tasting.
The specials proved popular and my partner got his hands on the last T-bone steak. This was a huge slab of meat which came with chips and a salad – so huge that he uttered ‘oh my god’ when it was brought to the table. Again it was excellent – moist and perfectly cooked.
Unfortunately there weren’t any vegan desserts on offer on the night – although this is an area they are looking to expand into – so I had to content myself with a glass of vegan wine. The landlord seems very aware of special diets and also stocks vegan beer among his wide selection of drinks.
My partner had a simple but tasty cheesecake with ice cream.
Our meal for two came to around £30. It was a low price tag for a lovely dining experience, which was definitely a cut – several in fact – above typical pub grub.
We stayed for the rest of the evening to enjoy the atmosphere, log fire and, in the case of my partner, a selection of real ales.
We will definitely be back soon.
63 Onslow Road,