Despite best efforts to avoid it, my trusty but incapacitated Dish Detective companion was confined to her room with the dreaded ’rona.
But, with her tastebuds steadily returning to normal function, your Dish Detective decided to indulge the pair of us with a cheeky weekend treat.
Burgers sounded like a tasty bet, so I shopped around online to find a takeaway we had yet to try – and landed on Messy Chef.
This burger joint is one of the venues to be found in the Outside-In Food Court tucked away in a hidden warehouse in Middle Street, Southsea.
Outside, the walls of the food court are painted graffiti-style with a lush mural of jungle leaves, while inside hungry customers will find a range of independent street food vendors from which to choose.
Visitors can sample the wares of traditional Venezuelan restaurant Arepa 2Go, or try Greek gourmet cuisine from Gyro Land.
There are tacos, pizza, sushi, even Caribbean fusion-style wraps.
Messy Chef’s main offering is its range of ‘messy’ burgers, offering dishes ranging from the
BBQ Mess (double-smashed beef patties, American cheese, smokey turkey bacon, lettuce,
onion, and special BBQ sauce with molten cheese for £9.20) to the Messy Zing (hot and
spicy crispy chicken fillet, with lettuce, onions, special BBQ sauce and cheese also for £9.20).
There’s also an intimidating-sounding Ultimate Mess with quadruple smashed beef patties (£9.20).
As well as a range of side fries – French fries (£3), sriracha fries (£3.50), and sweet potato
fries (£3.99) – Messy Chef does minced beef (£7.49) or crispy chicken (£6.99) loaded fries, topped with melted cheese, jalapenos, and one of the Messy special sauces.
Isolating well away from the world, my companion and I order in.
We wait the length of time expected for a last-minute Friday night takeaway before I dish up, leaving my companion’s plate outside her Covid-19 Quarantine Zone.
In the spirit of the season, we’ve opted for items exclusively from the Veganuary menu, splitting dishes between us to try a little of everything.
We divide an order of sriracha fries (described as simply ‘Hot. Vegan.’), and we’re pleased to see that £3.50 gets you a decent-sized portion with more than enough for two.
The added spicy kick is delicious, and goes well with the creamy chive sauce added to the takeaway bag.
The vegan, no-chicken nuggets (five pieces) are your standard fare so feel a little overpriced at £4.99, although I do enjoy the crispy spinach bites (£4.99 for five pieces). Imagine a soft, creamy spinach filling similar in taste and texture to mushy peas, cooked in breadcrumbs.
However, the centrepiece of the meal is the Vegan Mess (£10.99) – a Moving Mountains vegan patty, vegan cheese, lettuce, coleslaw made with vegan mayo, all put in a vegan bun. In my experience, Moving Mountains veggie patties are always a winner, deliciously juicy and flavoursome, and this burger is no exception.
‘Good amount of coleslaw in the burger,’ my companion texts from the other room. ‘The burger is quite meaty, and the cheese is nice.’
The Vegan Mess burger lives up to its name, the bun stacked high and spilling over with cheese, mayo, and salad. Warning: there is no ladylike way to eat this messy burger. Simply enjoy stuffing your face.
Messy Chef prides itself as ‘home of the best smashed burgers and loaded fries dripping with molten cheese in town’.
As my research into the subject has not yet led me to every burger joint in the city, this is a hard claim to qualify – but I’ll certainly remember Messy Chef for any future Friday burger cravings.
RATINGS (out of five)
Messy Chef, Middle Street, Southsea
A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.