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The Dolphin, Old Portsmouth, Portsmouth

41 High Street
Phone: 02392823595

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 7 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Pub SignMan left this review about The Dolphin

This spacious bare boarded pub opposite Portsmouth’s cathedral, claims to be the oldest in the city – a claim that seems plausible enough, although anyone casually strolling in would be hard pushed to recognise this from the opened-out interior. You enter into a wide space with high tables and stools to the left next to an upright piano, and an open-fronted snug to the right with some nice old beams and stained-glass screens helping to make it feel like the sort of traditional, historic pub they claim to be. In 2016, the landlord found a pane of glass in storage which was believed to have come from one of the pub’s old windows and been signed by Horatio Nelson. This pane has now been hung over the brick fireplace in this room with a brief explanatory note detailing its supposed significance. Armchair seating and shelves full of books, bottles and salvers give this room a cosy, homely feel and for me it was probably the nicest spot in the whole pub. The bar is along the left-hand side of the main room and has a grey panelled counter front and bar back plus a metal framed gantry, none of which enhances the traditional feel of the pub. There’s a decent sized seating area opposite with standard tables and chairs in front of a nice fireplace and a ‘community pillar’ which has been used to display various messages and advertisements of interest to the locals. Beyond is an area with a stained glass ‘Private Bar’ sign which offers lots of bench and chair seating in a smart space that in turns leads out to the beer garden. The décor is appropriate to the overall look of the pub and includes lots of old photos on the walls and some nice lamps.
The ale range here was a lot more extensive than in other pubs in this part of town, offering Adnams Ghost Ship, Sharps Doom Bar, Hammerpot This Is England, Wadworth Horizon, Bradgy Twt Lol Horny Goat Ale and Milk Street Uncle John’s Tarantula Juice. My half of the This Is England was nice enough and served up by a slightly surly barman.
It’s a bit of a shame that you don’t get much of a feel for exactly how old this pub is when you’re inside, but despite this, I still thought it was a nice enough place to enjoy a few beers from their decent selection. If you’re out and about in Old Portsmouth, this is definitely worth a quick stop-off.

On 9th September 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2423 recommendations about 2423 pubs]

Steve C left this review about The Dolphin

Not knowing that there is a well-kept enclosed beer garden at the rear of the Dolphin I decided to have a smoke out the front before I entered on a recent Friday afternoon. This gave me a chance to read the A boards on the pavement which advertised the Sunday comedy night, Thursday quiz and live acoustic music on Fridays. Inside the pub there is seating to the left and right of the entrance and there is a piano next to the bar that runs up the left-hand wall. On the right, opposite the bar, is a seating area with fireplace. At the rear is some seating on a flagstone floor that leads to the aforementioned beer garden. The plasma screen was turned off and there is no Sky/ BT Sports, but sports on terrestrial TV will be shown if asked for.
Heineken, Amstel, Hop House, Birra Moretti, Fosters, Strongbow and Guinness were the keg options. I counted six hand pumps that were drawing Hammerpot Brewery’s This England, Wadworth’s Horizon, Adnams Ghost Ship, Sharp’s Doom Bar, Trefforest Horny Goat Ale and Milk Street Great Uncle John's Tarantula Juice. Food is available from lunch and dinner menus. A basic burger is priced at £9. I quite liked it in here and would return if passing.

On 10th May 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3586 recommendations about 3565 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Tris C left this review about The Dolphin

Established 1716 and Grade-II Listed, this is a boast which is backed up as this being Portsmouth’s oldest pub and as described below. It also features a graffito drawn by none other than Nelson – honest guv!
The barman was a bit strange, repeatedly extolling the virtue of buying a pint when all in our group plumped for a half – he should have been grateful for the customers given the few other drinkers.
A decent selection of ales on offer, I plumped for a half of Trefforest Brewery’s Horny Goat at a pricey £2.10 and not bad.
Worth a bit of a detour to get here and a must-visit if in the immediate vicinity, in which you’ll find yourself if visiting the city’s micro-cathedral, opposite.

On 2nd April 2019 - rating: 6
[User has posted 953 recommendations about 939 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Steve of N21 left this review about The Dolphin

The Dolphin self-claims to be the oldest pub in Portsmouth, which could have some truth due to its location on the high street of the Old town. But it’s not alone in self proclamation as during our extended weekend exploration of the Old Town area we noticed several other buildings that purported historical age or heritage or importance of some description, none more so that the large church opposite the pub that purports to be a cathedral.
Back to the Dolphin, which for pub ambience and beer choice was probably the best of the three we tried in this part of town. The very nice front snug with framed window panel and open wooden floored drinking area to the front does seem to have some original features. This then leads to a pleasant and airy stone flagged dining area before you then come to an equally pleasant small courtyard garden section at the end.
Six ale hand pumps that were dispensing the five beers mentioned in Mr Fastard’s review below, plus Adnams Ghost Ship. I also went for the Trefforest Horny Goat Ale which was rather good. All in all a good pub experience and although I agree the young bar keep could have demonstrated better customer service skills, I’m not inclined to penalise the overall pub for that on this occasion.

On 2nd April 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1699 recommendations about 1648 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Real Ale Ray left this review about The Dolphin

If you link to the pubs site below, they say "Pop by for a drink, something to eat or just chinwag with our lovely staff". I couldn't imagine having a chinwag with the barman on our visit, he barely cracked a smile and didn't make us very welcome on our Pubsgalore crawl. The pub was quiet on our Friday afternoon crawl, so 17 extra drinks served should be welcomed, or maybe the barman was getting warmed up for all the visitors coming off the cruise liners as the season progresses. We went for the Horny Goat Ale, which was in excellent condition. If we had got a jolly and welcoming reception, my rating would have probably gone up higher.

On 1st April 2019 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2975 recommendations about 2975 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Bucking Fastard left this review about The Dolphin

This mid terrace pub has a sign saying "oldest pub in Portsmouth" and given it's location this may ring true.There are some old beams within,although the decorations are more contemporary and not in an olde worlde style.There is a front snug to the right of the entrance with a framed window panel which "reputably" had been etched by Nelson using a diamond in his signet ring.Hmmmmm.
The rest of the interior is long and thin with a bar to the left and an upright piano further back.The barman faced with the Pubsgalore crawling crowd ordering halves did try to explain that the beer was also available in pints,but his sarky comment fell on deaf ears !
The six handpumps were drawing Wadworth Horizon,Doom Bar,Hammerpot This England,Milk Street Great Uncle John's Tarantular Juice and a decent Trefforest Horny Goat Ale.
Given the range,this is well worth including on any crawl and I enjoyed my brief stay.

On 31st March 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2054 recommendations about 2054 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Graham Coombs left this review about The Dolphin

A really old pub, sandwiched between more modern buildings, retaining beams and other features but all tastefully modernised in an upmarket way. The main room at the front has a nicely polished wooden floor, with a side room containing a pane of glass allegedly boasting Lord Nelson's graffitied signature. To the rear is a larger stone-floored dining area and at the back a small patio. A fair range of ales was on offer and seemed well-kept, although it has to be said not the cheapest.

On 30th March 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2194 recommendations about 2145 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Malden man left this review about The Dolphin

This claims to be Portsmouth's oldest pub, whether it is or not I cannot vouch but there is a vague feeling of age with a beamed ceiling and a centrally located large inglenook fireplace opposite the side bar. Long and relatively narrow, the front has a small side room with its own smaller fireplace, bare boarded here, about halfway down it steps up a little to a flagstone area which then runs on to a small paved rear courtyard with large barrels as tables.
Leaded windows, stone jars and weigh scales on a shelf, lots of old B&W photos of the local area plus a large and rather good old photo of Southsea Pier on a chimney breast beneath which sits a piano.
There were six handpumps of which five were in use, one was reversed but I couldn't pick it. GK IPA, Pride, Doom Bar plus thankfully Red Cat Scratch plus also Tom Cat. Not cheap at £4.10 but a decent drop for the TC. Despite the cat themed beer the pub is dog friendly and a bowl of water and a biscuit were provided for a particularly giddy canine visitor.
It's not a bad spot however it felt a little bit corporate and impersonal, maybe it is me but there was a little bit of something missing.

On 8th May 2016 - rating: 6
[User has posted 1685 recommendations about 1662 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Moby Duck left this review about The Dolphin

Open plan with a leaning toward the gastro but still a decent pub,6 pumps including some usual stuff like Doom Bar and Pride, my pint of Irving Frigate was excellent and the best pint of the day, however unless I was overcharged ,this was by far the most expensive pub of the day,£4.60 for a 3.8% beer was more than a pound over the local odds. That aside ,its not a bad spot.

On 29th February 2016 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1321 recommendations about 1308 pubs]

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Quinno _ left this review about The Dolphin

A knocked-through place but retains some character and it claims to be Pompey’s oldest pub. Two areas as you enter, on right through a presumed modern stained glass and timber divider is a nice room with fire, comfy chairs and a map on the wall. The rest of the pub is staple shape shaped with a restaurant area at the rear. Décor consists of stripped wood floor, floral wallpaper, plastic ivy on the walls and what I took to be faux fake ceiling beams from the 1970s. Upright piano spotted, don’t know if it’s tuned or not. Six pumps at the bar; Hogs Back Farnham White, Irving Invincible (fair), Hobgoblin Gold and London Pride. Quite a good little place, we enjoyed our 20 minutes in here.

On 21st February 2016 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3969 recommendations about 3957 pubs]

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