Outside In recently invited me to their Blogger’s event which was on a Sunday afternoon. This was a chance to meet the Southampton Bloggers and try out some food from the different vendors that are situated all around the warehouse-style building. Having been a regular since it’s opening last year, I was quite familiar with the vendors and was going along to support the event, meet up with new contacts and find out more about the people attending. After only half an hour and with a huge amount of food covering our long, stretched-out tables I soon realised that this was going to be the biggest feast I had attended in a very long time.
Although I have eaten a lot at Outside In I haven’t tried everything on every menu, so actually this was a wonderful way of tasting different types of food that I might not try otherwise. I guess you always have your favourites in a place like this but the beauty of Outside In is that the food is never too expensive, so you can have a few dishes from different vendors and it isn’t going to break the bank.
The whole venue offers a cashless system so you must have your card at the ready but it is well organised and the system works. The bar is separate and offers a good range of cocktails and happy hours, so look out for that on a Friday afternoon. Filling the space well are a range of long tables and benches, however, it feels social and not crowded with people sat eating, drinking and relaxing. Because the tables are so long you tend to share the space with other people, which isn’t a problem and can be a nice conversation starter sometimes.
The place itself is very chilled with a feeling of community. All the vendors support each other and are very friendly. With its high ceiling, the space really lends itself to events; a birthday party or small wedding would feel intimate but not closed in as you look up and you see vibrant umbrellas hanging from the ceiling 🙂 There are plenty of weekend vibes happening too with lots of room for children. Having toys and art materials for the younger ones means you can arrive, relax and know your children will relax too. It has been lovely to live so close to Outside In and watch its popularity grow but also see its success as street food has had a massive surge over the last 5 years. But having somewhere you can go and enjoy a range of street food, no matter the weather, really is a bonus.
As we sat looking at all these plates of food, it was interesting to see what the vendors wanted us to try. First up was Breeno’s Kitchen who offered a mixed vegetarian platter. Pairing up the puri with chickpea curry and having the well-prepared onion bhaji partnered with the homemade green chutney really woke up my taste buds. This is a popular dish at the Indian and Pakistani food stand. My favourite though, which I went back to eat again a few days later, has to be the Masala fries. The vegan option is delicious and adding the pomegranate as a final touch really does make this dish visually beautiful – as well as tasting divine!
I next tried some of the Venezuelan food from Arepa 2 Go Having had their fries in the past I was pleased to eat the small plates of plantain, black beans, house pico de gallo and guasacaca. This was so satisfying! Venezuelan food has a lot of rice, slow-cooked meats and black beans which is shown in their menu but they mainly sell the arepa pocket sandwiches that are gluten-free and are very tasty! I particularly love the green guasacaca (that is an avocado sauce and coriander sauce mixed together) that was drizzled on the fries we were given, along with feta cheese.
My son adores the Panormus Pizzeria Italian stand and loves to watch his pizza being made whenever we go! The guys that work there always high five him and make a fuss and really care about their customers. I just love the atmosphere; the food is consistently good and the staff are always smiling.
The garlic bread is a nice sharing dish as it comes in easy strips. The calzone is great with a few different filling choices but my hubby’s favourite is the Bolognese; such a wholesome dish filled with a rich sauce and tasty cheese. In the past, I ‘ve asked for a pizza base with just vegetarian bits, like mushrooms and olives, and the guys have been happy to oblige. You can also have a pizza with two different toppings – handy if you want to share.
The one stand I hadn’t tried is Natty’s Jerk because it’s a new vendor, so I was eager to try out some of their dishes. Looking at the mac and cheese waffles I honestly couldn’t believe the combination and just how good they were! I would definitely go and eat them again. We have all seen cauliflower fried and used as a vegan alternative but the ones at Natty’s are very special and stand out. They’re made the Caribbean way and are served with a flavoursome sauce to dip your cauli wings in. What makes Natty’s a huge success is family tradition. Their jerk chicken is smoked using pimento wood straight from Jamaica, giving it real authenticity and love like Natty’s grandma used to make. He joked on the day saying he wants to offer food that he grew up eating as a child and that’s important to him and his family.
One Tonne Burger Co brought out an Instagram-perfect looking plate. It makes you realise that when you specialise in one type of food, getting it right is so important and they absolutely nail their burgers. The quality of the meat makes them special, only using the finest beef and mincing it all in house means they know exactly what goes into their burgers. This shows in the taste and presentation. Trying the double patty, double bacon, double cheese, double onion jam gave me double the taste and texture!
Next to catch my eye was Dumpling Dumpling. Having tried their 3 for £5.00 dumplings before I thought I had seen it all, but listening to Dan I realised that I hadn’t had the pesto mac n’cheese ones. They were melt in the mouth! I also didn’t realise the “hoisin not-duck” was actually a duck substitute vegetarian option, I thought that was a cool option to offer. Our table had a platter arrive with funky Asian fries, a noodle stir fry, prawn crackers and a mix of dumplings. My favourite out of the selection were the dumplings as they are made with so much care by Dan’s wife Nat who prepares them lovingly, having mastered the art of dumpling making while visiting China. It’s great this couple have brought an Asian tradition home and created a brand here we can all enjoy!
Outside In is open all day Thursday to Sunday and has the coffee bar open for breakfast during the week. It’s an ideal space if you wanted to have a business networking meeting and the team are so friendly, they can cater to your group if need be. Having been to a birthday bash there myself it was nice to see tables reserved for us and allowing for balloons etc.
Thank you to Outside In for the invite and the chance to try the most amazing feast ever! We even came home with dried lavender which was put on every plate setting courtesy of Thistle and Ivy.
You can find out more about Outside In here
By Louise O’Brien