This article was originally written for Southsea Food Social. Unfortunately since this article was written Vatika has closed and has been replaced by a restaurant & tea rooms.
Right… I have been meaning to write this up earlier – but I’ve been busy OK? Stop hassling me. Anyway, a few months ago Jemma and I had the opportunity to go and have lunch at Vatika, which is set in the grounds of Wickham Vineyard (also worth a visit) as part of a Christmas present kindly give to us by my little bro’s other half, Amy. The restaurant is owned by the Michelin starred chef and Saturday Kitchen regular, Atul Kochhar, who specialises in British Indian fusion cooking. However, despite his obvious pedigree, I wasn’t really sure what to expect after viewing the rather vague menu online.
It turns out I shouldn’t have worried. After being seated in the light and spacious restaurant, we were served freshly baked rolls with a selection of flavoured salts – an excellent twist on the usual entree to a meal. Following a little amuse-bouche, I had the Pigeon Pomegranate, which combined tandoori pigeon breast with a piquant pomegranate jelly. The result was a slightly acquired taste, and overall left me slightly under awed. Moving on to the main, we both indulged in the Lamb Spinach – a slow cooked lamb shoulder served with spinach gnocchi and giant cous cous. This was cooked to perfection – the lamb was ridiculously melt-in-the-mouth and went perfectly with the silky smooth 2008 Bremerton Tamblyn recommended on the menu.
After such a fine main meal, it would be rude not to have desert. I had the Chocolate Mint, which was a smorgasbord of mint crème brulee, chocolate brownie topped with nut brittle and a mini warm chocolate milkshake. Jemma went for the Hibiscus Raspberry, consisting of raspberry ice cream and hibiscus jelly topped with pannacotta . I think the descriptions speak for themselves, and I can assure you neither did disappoint.
All in all, this was one of the finest meals I’ve had the pleasure of eating, with every dish having a little something to make you smile. Service was unfussy and friendly, which sometimes can be an issue in a restaurant like this. It’s not cheap – but then cooking of this standard rarely is. I’d recommend it to anyone who wanted to make a special occasion a little bit more special.