Varsity was always a pretty poor option for food in Portswood. When the Soton Tab reviewed the new Wild Lime I was keen to try it. My opportunity came today when my usual back-to-uni haunt of Trago Lounge was closed.
Wild Lime delivers excellent first impressions which it totally fails to follow through with. The decoration looks impressive when you first walk in, but soon you see that it has let its looks take precedence over its design. The kitchens seem to be at least partly upstairs, leading to clearly visible staff confusion. The bar is in the place it had been in Varsity, but is way too large for a restaurant (where it was perfect for a pub).
The worst property of the new design is that no thought had been given to the sound atmosphere. Varsity may have had dirty carpet, but it absorbed sound as well as it absorbed years of spilt lager. After the first service Wild Lime should have invested in baffles to keep the noise down to a minimum.
What really let down Wild Lime today was that they clearly hadn’t done their research. Portswood is a student town. Sure, there are locals but if you are serving food in Portswood you know for a fact a key customer is going to have to be the students. So why were they caught unaware by move-ins on the Sunday before freshers week? The kitchen was totally overwhelmed. We waited over an hour for food after a promised 30-45 minute time. They gave us complimentary drinks, but even those were delayed!
Coffee was served in a bizarre manner. What can only be described as a small shipping palette was delivered to the table for each cup and not taken away leaving you with a chunk of wood in the way for the remainder of the meal. The cups, which would have been charming in the Art House looked dirty and old in the context of the modern surroundings.
With the kitchen clearly taken off guard it’s no surprise that the food suffered. Lime Chicken (featuring at least 4 times on the menu in various disguises) tasted of neither lime or chicken, it was dry and overcooked. But that was nothing to the breakfast. If you’re going to serve a fried egg there is one criteria, the yolk must be runny. These were solid and cooked through from time on a hotplate.
French toast leaked oil and grease into its bowl.. Turns out that was honey.
The food was rescued for me by the pizza. This is one of their strengths and they really ought to play it up. The crusts were crisp, slightly chewy and properly charred from the oven (as good pizza should be). The chillis on the top were fruity and well chosen, pepperoni and meatballs were both good quality. Cheese was distributed evenly and the sauce was well flavoured.
It’s a pity that Wild Lime was let down by its poor preparation and unprepared kitchen. We left feeling let down, with my fellow diners reporting that they wouldn’t want to return. I would just about be brought back for the pizza, but I would expect a massive improvement on service and something done about the echo filled main dining area. Given the style of food and prices the nearest comparison is the nearby Trago Lounge, and in a competition between the two I’d definitely go for Trago.
Overall 2⁄5 stars, but with much potential to improve.