Sant Yago, Southsea

As I sit here writing this, I’m sat in Sant Yago, one of my favourite restaurants in Southsea.

We (S and I) came here last month for drinks with friends and decided that we should probably come back for food and so here we are. It’s St Patricks Day and the only table they had available at the time of booking was for 9pm. But it’s ten past nine now and other people are still sat on our table. I’m hungry. Luckily we’re occupied because we’re currently working our way through Sant Yago’s cocktail menu and the drinks are pretty delicious, so if there are any typos in this – you know why. *hic*

Sant Yago is a tapas bar/dining room at number 12 Clarendon road in Southsea.

Sant Yago has two elements (bar and dining room) to it and each is decorated with quirky contemporary decor. The ground floor is the dining room; a room with tables dotted about with candles shoved in bottles with wax overspilling the edges on top. The bar is situated in the basement below and has a few bar stools, arm chairs and a corner booth to sit in. It’s dark, atmospheric and even though it gets busy (like now) it doesn’t feel cramped. Which is great considering it’s a medium sized windowless room. This windowless room is cute though. And it has cocktails. So I think we’ll be ok.

We arrived at Sant Yago early to make good use of the bar. The drinks menu is made up of cocktails, both long and short, in addition to wines, beers and fizz too. I started off with an espresso martini because I’m essentially a grandma who is useless after 10pm and needed a caffeine hit to ensure I stayed awake. Then that turned into two because it tasted good and I wasn’t ready to not have another.

I like my cocktails sweet, or sharp with a sweet edge and the menu had plenty to offer; mai tai, martinis and whiskey sours were just a few. But the most refreshing was possibly the “Stuck In A Rut” – a cocktail their menu claims is unique to Sant Yago which consists of; Creme de Cassis, peach schnapps, apple juice and soda. It tastes of everything I loved about sweets growing up, but with the alcohol my adult self enjoys. All that was missing was a beach, a palm tree and weather 20°c warmer. But it didn’t matter because the host from the dining room has just told us that our table is now ready.

Neither of us were sure what to eat, so started with camembert because we all love cheese. One for the table didn’t seem like enough for six cheese lovers – so we ordered three.

Three was definitely the right decision. The camemberts were perfectly cooked and the hot and sweet paprika and garlic complemented the flavour of the cheese beautifully. In addition to this we also had some pork crackling which was thinly sliced, crispy and served with apple chutney.

Once the first round of foods were done, we cracked on to the main menu. I had:

Tiger prawns served in sizzling chilli and garlic oil.

Aubergine rolls which were stuffed with finely chopped mushrooms and served on a tangy tomato sauce with cheese.

A bowl of pan friend mushrooms which were served in a garlic and sherry reduction and a bowl of fried potatoes served with garlic mayo.

My verdict?
Delicious. The tiger prawns were big, juicy and had just the right amount of garlic in the oil to ensure it didn’t overpower the flavour of the prawns. The aubergine rolls were unexpectedly delicious and the sauce was exactly as described; tangy – which counteracted the creamy flavour of the cheese. The potatoes on the other hand, were a bit meh to be honest. The garlic mayo packed a punch of garlic just the way I like it, but I was expecting the potatoes to have a bit of crunch, and instead they were incredibly soft. They were still nice enough – but not what I was expecting.

The rest of the table had the following Sant Yago specialties:

A ginger and soy marinaded pan-seared tuna steak. It was the first time I had ever tried tuna steak and it was served blue. Even though the flavour was nice – I wasn’t a fan of the textures. The blue part was so soft and flavourful that I can see why people love sashimi but the seared outer edge had the texture of tinned tuna. Just so you know – my distaste for this dish has no reflection on Sant Yago whatsoever, and is solely based on the fact that I didn’t like the texture of tuna steak.

More fried potatoes; but instead of garlic mayo the others ordered theirs topped with slow cooked rib meat with a BBQ sauce.

A sweet potato stack with homemade tomato chutney and roasted peppers.

Skewers. Lots of them. Some were chicken and chorizo, others were grilled halloumi. Both came with a balsamic glaze. The table loved these although we’re pretty sure that one of the halloumi skewers had forgotten to be grilled.

The last dish was braised pig cheeks which was served in a creamy wholegrain mustard sauce with caramelised leek and onion. I didn’t eat it, but S advises it was delicious.

None of us had room for pudding… A record achievement.
So good job Sant Yago for leaving us satisfied with savoury – a feat that never happens!

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