(see below for 2006 review)
2008 Review: dashing home after a football match, Matt and the lads were in Sandown with a mind to eat chips.
Leaving Bill sitting in the car in his studs and mud-caked football kit, Jack and Matt nipped into Fat Harry's to try the takeaway. When Matt and his junior reviewers had first visited Fat Harry's, two years ago, it had been new and shiny (see review below). They'd eaten in, and found the food and service to be above average.
So how had Fat Harry's fared in the meantime?
For a start, there seemed to have been a change of personnel. The jolly frying fellow was no longer behind the counter, and some chap with a kitchen overall intriguingly marked 'Marina Bay Hotel' was there instead. Matt ordered two cod and chips, and a chicken and mushroom pie and chips. He and Jack settled down to await their order. They noticed that the place looked more-or-less the same, not quite the glittering new emporium of 2006 but still a clean and tidy shop. The food came soon enough, wrapped in sweet-smelling hot paper as tradition demands.
When the parcel was finally unwrapped back home, a decent pie was on top - piping hot, albeit with a lot more sauce than meat or mushroom. The two cod were both fairly meagre to look at, and the chips, although scant in number, looked pretty good. On tucking in, the diners found that these first impressions were quite accurate.
The pie was tasty, the fish was not. A very thick layer of batter encased two slight slivers of cod. Sadly, the batter was so thick that the inside was floury and soggy, and the whole lot peeled off soon enough. The outside was pretty greasy. Worse was to come - although one of the cod was not too bad, the other one proved to be riddled with bones, and under the white flesh a whole strip of thick dark skin did nothing to improve matters. A certain amount of skin and bones is all part of the white fish experience - but there are limits. Disappointing.
The good news, however, was the chips. Just as before, these chips were very good indeed. Cooked to perfection, tasting fresh and wholesome, not too oily and with plenty of soft potato inside; these were eagerly eaten by the chaps. In fact, they wouldn't have minded a few more.
Matt concludes that Fat Harry's has still not quite achieved its self-appointed goal of 'gourmet fish and chips'. If anything, the service, food quality and quantity has faded a little since 2006. However, it's far from a lost cause and is still worth a visit.
2006 Review: You're beside the seaside, and so, naturally enough, you wish to eat fish and chips. Oddly enough, this more-or-less universal craving can strike the would-be diner at any time of the year. However, it seems as though certain establishments on the Isle of Wight are unaware of this - closing, as they do, for much of the off-season. Those which remain open are worthy of investigation.
Fat Harry's is a fairly new franchised fish and chip establishment in the Island's capital of the bucket-and-spade holiday, Sandown. It opens every day from lunch until late, and when Matt ventured there on a cold and windy February afternoon, he found a warm welcome.
- there really is a plasma screen displaying the menu.
How wonderfully nerdy is that?
It scrolls, too!
Your attention is directed to the Fat Harry's website
- an unusually good example of a simple,
informative and welcoming restaurant website.
The place is glitteringly clean, modern, well-designed and functional. The traditional fish counter and bar is reassuringly in place, and you can see the food cooked in front of you. Take-away seems to be the popular choice, but there are clean comfortable tables to sit at if you wish to eat in. The floor under the chairs is even carpeted - a minor point, but if you've been in a few seaside chip-joints you will appreciate just what this says about the style of Fat Harry's.
On arrival, your reviewers were greeted jovially by the amiable proprietor, whose vaguely north-eastern accent put Matt in mind of pleasant fish suppers enjoyed in places such as Whitley Bay and Tynemouth. Traditional chip-shop menu items were on offer, alongside the slightly exotic, such as hot drinks and burgers. A hot cup of tea was the first to arrive, although UHT milk and a bag in the cup was perhaps a little disappointing for such a high class joint. The food was freshly cooked, so a short delay ensured. Junior reviewer Bill, taking his reviewing duties very seriously, took the opportunity to inspect the toilet facilities at this point, and stoically declined to break cover even when sent back to 'wash his hands properly'. Debriefed at a safe location later, he reported them to be pretty clean and comfortable, even if the bin was overflowing with paper towels. Like everything at Fat Harrys, the toilets were immaculately new and so have not yet had the travails of a busy summer season to see how they fare - perhaps they won't be so clean this time next year, but then again, it seems quite likely that they will (update: see comment below).
When the food arrived, it was a pleasure to see. Well-presented on a big oval plate, the piping-hot fish was large, tasty and perfectly cooked. A tiny garnish of tired iceberg lettuce was something of a formality, but the big wedge of freshly-cut lemon alongside was just what was required. Copious quantities of perfect, golden-brown chips were reinforced by a complementary extra plateful from the friendly host, who seemed to worry that his customers might waste away. Matt's cup of tea didn't really recover from the UHT milk, but this small flaw was more than eclipsed by the splendid food.
This restaurant is certainly a few pegs above the average chip shop; and as a place to eat it provides reasonable value for money compared with similar sit-down venues. It offers a comfortable and enjoyable environment, and the welcoming staff and good service ensured that the whole experience was one which may well be repeated soon.
Categories: We like, Restaurants, Take aways, Sandown & Shanklin, Fish and chips, Tea shops
Just a couple of little errata for you - I'm actually from Belfast (via France, London & Manchester, so the accent's probably a bit confused by now), Clair's from Wigan, and the shop's already over a year old (opened in March 2005), so your comments about the toilets being brand new and not having had to survive a summer season are particularly complimentary :-)
We make a point of trying to be a cut above the rest and in fact came top five in the region in last year's national Fish & Chip Shop of the Year competition (our region includes Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Berkshire & the Isle of Wight). Needless to say, we are determined to improve on that this year.
Your honest and unbiased feedback has been extremely useful - we're off to look for teapots and milk jugs this week :-)
Jonty & Clair Stewart
Proprietors, Fat Harry's
had an OAP MEAL if the fish had been any smaller it would have blown
off the plate, the tea was undrinkable I don't know what teabags they
use,it was a shame to spoil the water, we would have been better with
a normal one between us, but as every body went they all left chips on their plates,it was't because they had too many, they were inedible.
It is one fish shop we won't recommend, or go to again.
Jonty (Fat Harry)
I'm pleased to say the meal was well cooked with decent chips and tasty Cod.
the chips had been fried so much there was no potato left just a hard shell. the fish was stone cold and went back,the second bit was worse,the fist was tiny and was going brown and cardboard like,teeming with bones.the batter was so thick and overcooked it wasnt crispy but hard as nails i wanted to leave a message on the website but of course they dont give that option,wonder why,the guest book would be full of complaints!
Found a very nice takeaway at ventnor Ocean view very nice and tastey!!!
and chips. Normally I can't eat shop fish & chips as there is wheat flour in the batter. We phoned
to order take away food and went down to collect - on a Friday evening - the food was
ready on my arrival, reasonably priced and tasted fantastic. We shall be back on our
next visit to the IW - and we'll be recommending it to other coeliacs.
Looks like the FH website could do with an update though - doesn't match the menu prices
in the shop.
chips soggy and fish batter slimey .....not a good start