Then and now: One year on from underwhelming review, Becketts leaves Dish Detective with food for thought

Published by Scott Challinor on October 17th 2020, 8:08am

When food critic Dish Detective last reviewed hospitality business Becketts, based in Southsea, Portsmouth, in the September of 2019, they recorded that they were by no means “blown away” by the culinary experience of the restaurant.

By the time Dish Detective returned to carry out its 2020 review in October, the restaurant had undergone a root and branch transformation masterminded by Terence Carvalho, the incumbent general manager who took over the running of Becketts in October 2019, shortly after the previous review.

Coming up to his one-year anniversary in charge of the business, Carvalho has overseen a £40,000 kitchen refurbishment and teamed up with head chef Jack Sencherey-Evans - who arrived in August 2019 boasting experience working in Michelin Star restaurants - to redesign the entire menu.

A multitude of awards, accolades, and positive reviews have epitomised what Carvalho’s management and Sencherey-Evans’ cosmopolitan dishes in tandem have brought to the table at Becketts and have been instrumental in fuelling the wholesale transformation of the customer experience. Quite frankly, the difference in 12 short months left the Dish Detective critics flabbergasted this time around.

Initially returning to assess how the restaurant had changed from a hygiene and Covid-secure perspective, the critics were immediately struck by the standard of hospitality, as a cheerful and masked-up waiter greeted them to take their temperature.

Becketts has implemented a number of Covid-secure procedures to render the premises safe for both staff and customers, including staggering shift patterns, socially distancing the tables, reducing the menu and conducting wide staff-wellness checks. Anyone displaying a temperature is immediately sent home.

Having selected from the menu, accessed via a QR code, the critics were tucking into their starters in a timely manner, with Dish Detective recommending the wild mushroom truffle mac and cheese starter to tantalise the palate, calling it the “best mac and cheese” they had ever eaten. The critic’s companion was equally satisfied by their starter: salt and peppered squid which was garnished with lime, crushed peanuts, spring onions and coconut cream.

The table was swiftly cleaned and re-laid once the starters had been finished for the main course to make a timely arrival. The items of choice were two flat-iron steaks - one medium and one medium rare - served with chips, kale, roasted shallots, pickled garlic, plum tomato and herb oil, both accompanied by peppercorn sauce.

The critic described the “melt-in-the-mouth” steak as an “incredible” example of culinary prowess, with a “just right” amount of sauce with plenty left to mop up with the chips, and the green herb oil a perfect complement for the quality steak.

Dish Detective’s parting words in the review read as follows: “It’s safe to say that a dinner at Becketts definitely does blow you away – and you won’t regret it.”

To that, a beaming Terence Carvalho said: “To see staff members improving continuously and earning more and more positive reviews for their work is the biggest privilege you can have as a manager. It is an amazing turnaround from what Dish Detective thought of us one year ago and a perfect way to mark my first year in charge.”

Photo by Nanxi wei on Unsplash


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