As is the modern way, Matt and Cat wear several hats. As well as their eating out hobby which takes up considerable time, they also have day jobs. Juggling all of their activities is part of what the neologists call portfolio working.
Running a business from a smartphone is a million miles away from the old-fashioned way of organising one’s affairs. Only in the early noughties, Cat did a business studies module which exhorted participants to make a business plan, present it to a bank manager and get a loan for premises. Even swyping this on Cat’s Sony Xperia, it sounds archaic and absurd. A bank manager? Premises? Matt and Cat mostly operate from cafés and bars, with only a few meetings actually being at the M&C HQ.
And, when in Newport, Matt and Cat have a couple of preferred venues for client chit-chat. The Quay Arts used to be their go-to place but the challenging acoustics, queuing, and diminishing menu has seen it slide down the charts. Particularly since the discovery of One Holyrood.
The café is the front end of a boutique bed and breakfast venue situated in the centre of Newport. At first glance it looks like a shop – in fact for years it was a sort of art gallery. However some significant works have taken place and entering the café is like stepping into an old-school parlour.
There are many reasons that Matt and Cat like One Holyrood. One is the interior, which evokes Matt’s vicarage upbringing and the Cat’s mother’s keenness for all things Edwardian; inspired by Sunday night TV staples the Duchess of Duke Street and Upstairs Downstairs. If you fancy lolling in an armchair then settle yourself in the lounge at the front of the café. Or, if you’d rather sit at a mahogany table as you pour out your tea, then make your way through to the back dining room. On a sunny day, the little walled garden is the perfect spot. Many’s a cuppa and cake Matt and Cat have had in this cottagey idyll.
Jacket potato £6.95
2 x tea @ £1.75
The lunch menu at One Holyrood is pretty traditional: jacket spuds, sarnies and soup. But like the choice of big, sticky cakes; all of these are excellently presented, with trimmings galore. Matt’s particularly fond of the home-made coronation chicken filling for his baked potato. Sweet, oozing spicy yellow sauce, and loaded with chicken, it’s his top choice at One Holyrood. And if it’s an afternoon tea you are after, you’d have to go a long way to beat this one. Fresh scones, copious jam and cream, cups with saucers and endless proper tea in a real pot – with a tea cosy if you want one. Yes, a knitted tea cosy. That should tell you all you need to know.
The ambiance is a cut above. Matt and Cat have noticed that table service in cafés is becoming more popular and it’s something that they mightily approve of. Of course counter service is never going to go out of fashion but, when you’re trying to get the most out of your hour’s lunch with friends, it is galling to spend a quarter of that time queuing. Nope, at One Holyrood you can all sit round the table and gossip to your hearts’ content and the friendly staff will come to you.
Cat’s favourite sarnie at One Holyrood is, like the setting, a classic – egg and cress on white bread. All sandwiches are served with a reasonably-sized and varied side salad and vegetable crisps. Not bad for around a fiver. She’s also enjoyed a cream tea in the garden; soft scones, strawberry jam – natch – and a goodly dollop of the old clotted. And, for those among you who get confused by coffee menus, then there is only the cafetiere sort here. Served in a cup with a saucer of course, and a jug of milk.
Matt and Cat meet a lot of clients at the big dining table; it’s a great place to spread out documents. Also, unlike some other town centre cafés, it’s not at all noisy. No scraping chairs, excessively loud music or traffic noise. No, it’s a great place for an intimate chat or to talk business, helped along with tea and all the trimmings.
The trouble with telling you lot about One Holyrood is that you might go there and adopt it as your favourite venue in Newport. Which will displace M&C – or perhaps we can all sit around that big table and have a nice cosy chat, like we’re in your nan’s living room.
This is the full-length version of the shorter review that first appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Lunches are excellently presented, with generous portions and trimmings galore.
- Friendly table service.
- Classic tea room interior; on a sunny day, the little walled garden is the perfect spot.
- Sometimes the door has to be propped open for ventilation which can be a bit draughty at the front of the café.
- If you want a big table, there is only one - although it is possible to book it.
- Open during day times only.