On the verge of cooking up a delicious tuna carbonara, shallots quartered, red pepper sliced and mushrooms randomly hacked - Cat received a phone call from Matt. Pals of theirs had invited them to curry night at the Marine Hotel, Ryde. Never turning down the chance to eat out, Cat packed the prepared food into containers, bunged it in the fridge and, pausing only to spit on her hands and slick down her mane, sped out of the door.
In a matter of moments Matt and Cat found themselves sitting with their friends and, without even taking the trouble to peruse the menu because it was curry night, ordered curry. It came in three flavours: beef madras, chicken khorma and lamb curry.
The prominently positioned Marine has undergone a recent transformation and is now neatly decked out with tongue-and-groove on the walls and stripped wooden floors all coloured with a nice muted palette. And, for that extra touch of luxury, leather beer mats - go on, sniff one: see, real leather!
And, with a canny eye on what will undoubtedly be the Marine's busiest weekend of the year, the walls are decorated with mod artefacts such as record covers, pictures of mop-headed laddies and roundels. Just the thing to lure in the scooterists.
Whilst waiting for the curries to be delivered Matt and Cat took the trouble to have a look at what they could've had. The menu offers pretty traditional pub grub with its selection of steaks, burgers and pasta dishes. There are also plenty of interesting light bites available such as half a pint of prawns or perhaps two giant flat mushrooms cooked in garlic with crispy bacon and brie. The vegetarians amongst Matt and Cat's readership do not have much to choose from, salad and cheese-based dishes seem to be about the limit and, on the main menu, there is nothing at all for our herbivorous friends. However, the specials board may yield a meatless treat.
Still, M and C did not spend too long shedding tears over the limited vegetarian range of food as bowls of meat-based curry wafted in front of their unblinking eyes.
Cat's chicken khorma had some lovely pieces of (sliced) chicken and hunks of mushroom, although the curry was tangy rather than creamy. It was delivered in a stylish balti bowl and accompanied by big fluffy rice and a poppadom. It was a work-a-day curry which is no more than can be expected for a fiver.
Similarly, the lamb curry was pretty average and pretty hot. Mat suspected that the meat was added later rather than allowed to soak in the spicy juices of the curry but, again, what can you expect for such a bargain price. Certainly there was plenty of food in both dishes and, with poppadoms, it's hard to see how they do it for the money.
There's really nothing to criticise about the Marine; it's clean and tidy and pleasantly decorated in a neutral way. The food is courteously served and offers good value for money. With plenty of pavement-side seating for the smokers and weather-resistant clientèle, it's just the place for watching summer in Ryde.
We stayed for a drink late on and noticed the bar staff blocking the fire exit door to the front of the property by loading tables and chairs into the alcove. We thought this was a fire safety hazard.
The staff were also putting chairs on tables whilst we were still in the pub, as if they wanted us to leave even though it was only 9.30pm.
No opening or closing times displayed on the door and 6 sandwich boards strewn across the pavement outside smacked a bit of overkill.
Nice food but felt unwelcome and concerned in the event of a fire breaking out!
The place looks really good and im sure the food and music would have been too but the paint smell was just a tad too strong.
We will return maybe in a few months to try again as it looks like a real fun place now.