What’s not to like? (As they say.) A café with a view, with good coffee and good homemade cake.
The Penguin Café overlooks the sea, and you can generally get a table looking out to the Isle of Wight; or, indeed, sit outside. I like it best on grey days, when the wind is scudding up the Solent and yachts are speeding along, heeling over enough to make the notoriously susceptible Mrs O. seasick just looking at them. You can gaze out and ponder our maritime history, or the enormous amount of traffic going in and out of Southampton.
The aforementioned coffee is lovely, ordinary filter coffee. The cakes are comforting: scones, bread and butter pudding, rocky road, etc. I haven’t tried the cooked food, but the ice creams (available outside) are good.
It will not have escaped my keen followers that God’s house band, the Penguin Café Orchestra, share a name with this establishment; sadly I don’t think there is any other connection. But there are pictures of penguins on the walls. And the music is usually good: “Roll Over Beethoven” featured on our last visit, and there seems to be a rock and roll theme. (Hey it’s a good thing I’m not teaching any more, with this apalling sentence construction. But I’m an adult. And can do what I like.)
For the sake of fairness, I must point out that there is another great café, the Bluebird Café, with a fascinating history, a couple of doors away. I can vouch for their substantial breakfasts. Don’t forget the Hovercraft Museum (open weekends) a mile to the West.