It's only six months since Matt and Cat reviewed the former Cask and Taverners in Godshill, but it has undergone a couple of significant changes - a new name and a new chef. Enough for a whole new review.
If you want to read what M and C thought of the old Cask and Taverners, click here.
Encouraged to revisit this vast rural pub by james wilson and Mr Rutelo, Matt and Cat packed up the Ordnance Survey map and headed to Godshill. Unlike their previous visit, the summer sun was shining down on Godshill's narrow-pavemented street and the smell of cooking drew them to the rebranded Taverners.
Godshill is an odd place. It's always been the haunt of tourists, often by the coach-load, who stop off briefly on the way to or from somewhere else - they use the toilets, buy a cream tea and a postcard, and move on. In the winter it can be a ghost-town. So Matt and Cat were intrigued by what they'd heard. Had The Taverners, a big Godshill pub, abandoned the idea of churning out cheap bland food in volume? Would it be as friendly as before and would Cat's meal have any vegetables?
Entering through the courtyard door as before, the pub did not look particularly different despite the promise of a "famous top London chef". Matt and Cat were not sure what they expected; perhaps a moustachioed maitre d' presiding over a lectern and a leather-bound diary in which M and C's names would not appear. As it was a friendly lady stepped out from behind the bar to greet them with a big smile and a clipboard. Thankfully she wasn't canvassing for pub quiz contestants but proffering the menus. The bill of fare was a far cry from the dull offerings of the former pub. Every dish looked interesting and unusual. It was written in an informative yet very jaunty style, with snippets of humour amongst the worthy details of the locally sourced food. Starters included 'classic 1970s prawn cocktail with all the bits' and 'hand raised (ie odd shaped) free range pork pie'.
As well as plenty of clearly identified local produce there was an emphasis on what Cat described as 'man food' - pies, chips, chops and other red meat, perfect fodder for someone who has been toiling in a field all day. In fact, she overheard the man at the next table positively exclaim at the sight of (Moor Farm) ham, (double free range) egg and chips. And it had certainly been some considerable time since Matt and Cat had seen home-made faggots, mash, peas and gravy on any pub menu.
Although the food looked wholesome enough, it all seemed a bit stodgy for Cat and she rapidly scanned the menu for chicken. Alas, none was there. She later found out that chicken was available from Tuesdays onwards due to the slaughtering schedule at the nearby poultry farm.
Matt, however, was spoilt for choice, so unusually decided to go for the full three-course experience. He chose a starter of devilled lambs kidneys on toast (£4.50) and 'proper' beef and ale pie in suet crust pastry with hand cut chips and peas (£10.50). Cat, with her more delicate appetite, struggled to find anything that she really wanted to eat apart from the goats cheese soufflé with roast tomato and salad leaves starter (£4.50). However, help - of a sort - was at hand from a fellow diner. A hearty lady standing at the bar alongside the vacillating reviewer decided that Cat was going to try the home-made tagliatelle with lobster, tomato and basil. "Do you like sea food?" enquired the friendly woman. Cat had to confess that she didn't particularly. "Oh, but we live on an Island," the lady went on to explain cajolingly, "and we eat a lot of fish here". Cat, standing in a pub in a village which must be the furthest point from the sea on the Isle of Wight, found this a little patronising. But a glint in this lady's eye suggested that refusal wasn't going to be an easy option, so Cat ordered the lobster anyway: it was going to be a new experience and that's something she never shies away from.
The food ordered and beer bought - a nice pint of Ventnor Brewery's Undercliff bitter for Matthew, M and C sat back on the charming chapel chairs and listened to the crazy toe-tapping mash-up of French accordion music and dub reggae insinuating itself out of the bar's speakers. Cutlery arrived, swaddled in freshly-laundered linen napkins. The London influence was beginning to reveal itself.
After some time spent, as before, listening to the locals chatting at the bar, the starter arrived. A generous portion of piping hot freshly grilled lambs kidneys sat atop two pieces of extremely crunchy bread, drizzled with a surprisingly sweet reduction. More chutnied than devilled, but splendid nonetheless. The dish was garnished with what seemed to be deep-fried sage leaves; tasteless but crunchy things prepared for texture and colour rather than for their aromatic properties. Matthew was very pleased with this delicious platter.
Although the vast pub was pretty empty, the main courses took a bit of time to be delivered. But this is not necessarily a bad thing, indicating that the food takes more than four minutes at 850 watts to prepare. Still, it might be interesting to see how they manage when a few coachloads arrive on, say Mothering Sunday or the August bank holiday.
Cat looked at her plate of lobster tagliatelle with interest. Tucking into the fishy dishy, Cat was amazed how pervasive the taste of the slightly chewy lobster was. Torn basil leaves helped temper the flavour and tangy tomatoes finished off the rich sauce. The home-made pasta was a bit clumped together in places and Matt ate the thickest bits with gusto. Later, the lady who'd suggested the lobster passed by and asked how Cat had liked it. She was able to say that the dish was very well-made, and lobster was an interesting experience, but perhaps next time she'd try her lobster in a salad.
Matt's pie was fantastic - it was like no steak and ale pie he'd ever had before. The generous portion of meat was packed into real pastry - all the way around, not just topped with a dismal fluffy lid of air. The pie wasn't particularly big but then it didn't need to be. A meaty glaze on the top of the solid pastry lid gave the whole thing a really impressive taste and texture. The chips seemed to be double-cooked and this added to the crispiness.
Feeling like spoiling themselves, Matt and Cat ordered puddings. Again, these tended towards the cuisine Anglaise, bananas, custard and chunks of cake. Matt was very keen to try the intriguing-sounding fried custard with flambéed banana and vanilla ice cream and Cat chose the lemon polenta cake with lemon sorbet.
A vast wedge of the dense cake arrived with a welcome dollop of tangy sorbet. Matt's pile of bananas was covered in a sweet caramelised toffee syrup and the fried custard had a crispy coat to protect it from the deep-frying process. Again, the dish appealed to Matt, high in calories and with a big stodge factor. And fried custard! It seemed worth ordering this just to see what turned up. It did not disappoint in any way.
When the waiter came to deliver the coffees and chocolate chip cookies he stopped for a chat, and on enquiry, explained how the fried custard was made. He also wanted to let Cat know that he had clocked her taking some photos. "Is this going to end up on some review?", he laughed. "You'll have to wait and see..." replied Cat, mysteriously.
Kidneys on toast £4.50
Lobster tagliatelle £11.50
Beef and ale pie £10.50
Fried custard & banana £4.50
Lemon polenta £3.95
2 x coffee 3.60
Now, it's worth pointing out that Matt and Cat rarely, if ever, reveal themselves as reviewers or give their names to restaurateurs - it's part of the deal. So at this stage it seemed pretty likely that their amiable host had an inkling of who he was feeding. It's also a credit to his attention to his guests, as obviously a keen eye had noticed the photographic activity - this almost always goes unremarked elsewhere.
Perhaps this suspicion led him to offer a little extra, because the waiter, who, it transpired, was indeed the 'famous London chef' and proprietor, took the time to show Matt and Cat around the venue. He explained his passion for locally-sourced food, and aspirations for a welcoming pub atmosphere rather than a stuffy restaurant. It seemed that your reviewers' expectations about the maitre d' and lectern couldn't have been more wrong. "I looked up this place on the internet before I bought it", he said chattily, "and saw it on that Matt and Cat website." Obviously fishing for Matt and Cat to step forward and throw off their disguises, Scooby-doo style. But although this wily chef seemed probably to be one of the very few who'd ever actually managed to spot your reviewers in action, they didn't confess their identities, and went on their ways with cheery goodbyes and sincere anticipation of a return visit.
It's to be hoped that Godshill is able to support such an ambitious venture, very different from anything else in the village. Eating at the Taverners was a bit like being in a parallel universe. The venue looked exactly the same as it had done in November 2007 and the locals were still as friendly. All that was different became clear from the board outside "New chef, new menu, new beer, new owners, welcome".
Categories: We like, Pub Grub, Family friendly, Ventnor area, Local produce
nothing more to say
There are so many pubs on the island churning out the same frozen rubbish that it is wonderful to be able to go somewhere as a family and enjoy restaurant quality food.
The children were able to choose from a homecooked menu that suited them instead of having to have 'something' and chips again!
I would very highly reccommend to anyone who enjoys fresh cooked local food!
We'll be down from London more often and will be definitely popping in for the food. Unfortunately we were too late for the Sunday roast dinner the next day as it was sold out...!! Gutted!! I've heard it does the best one on the Island...!!
Good Luck to the new management, and good on you for providing good quality, local grown food. We’ll be back soon…..!!
Pete had the shephers pie which he thought was lush : )
The Taveners is doing exactly what I have always dreamed of doing with an island eatery - using locally available produce and changing the menu to suit whatever fresh food is available. No laminated menu that consists of nothing but mass produced food, I don't care for huge choices of pap, just quality even on a small menu. The sauces and dressings were served in dishes with spoons - not a ketchup pouch in sight, even the napkins were REAL!
If you enjoy fresh, local and good food this is definitely the place to come. The only minus point was the limited availability of vegetarian food on offer.
While we were there we earwigged on another table who asked their waitress if Matt and Cat had reviewed them yet. You'll have to go out in disguise soon!
Can't wait to go back there
PS - no paper napkins -real linen ones!
We are now ringing around our friends to see who wants to come out on Thursday.
Forgot to add, that both times we took our four year old( who is very well behaved) who is expecting to come next time as well
If we ever have a mediocre meal here we'll let you know
We were at the Red Lion in Freshwater a couple of nights before and the Taverners is at least as good. Keep it up!
Matt and Cat respond: We went there this evening, in the hope of eating something. It was closed. We asked in 'The Griffin' (of which more anon) and they thought the Taverners had been closed all day and all evening in the last few days - perhaps a post-Christmas holiday? Guess they've earnt it.
What's really remarkable about the food is that we should be so surprised to find stuff of this quality at this price - its seems so obvious to select really fresh, seasonal local produce and cook it simply with an obvious care about what ends up on the plate, but so many times one finds pre-cooked, frozen or overdressed fare, usually smothered with oven chips and groaning off the table.
These guys have got it spot on - razor clams with garlic butter worth the trip alone, steak and oyster pie and pork escalope perfect. You could tell just by the side salad that you were on to a winner. Other pubs on The Island should be shamed by what The Taverners have done here, and at prices that are fair (not cheap, just fair.)
Please keep it up - you're a beacon of hope for anyone who loves real food!
Now by no means did I feel this the worst of Island eateries, far (FAR!)from it..... but I did unfortunately find it the most disappointing. What we hoped for tonight was somewhere up to the hype, or at least up to the 20 odd positive reviews here. 1st impressions...... Trading beer for produce, funky, if a little dangerous should your untraceable produce ever poison someone.
If we'd stopped at starters, we'd have forgiven the fact that thin asparagus was steamed with fat asparagus resulting in a limp stiff combination no fluffer could rectify. What I cannot forgive is a 15 minute wait for starter plates to be cleared or near 50 minutes wait for main courses. The underside of my plate was filthy, like Russell Brands memoirs. Luckily I was the only possessor of such a plate. My bland duck, but STUNNING lentils, was replated (I assume the old plate was clean on top!) And we continued. Sharing the dining experience, I traded a morsel or two with my companions, duck for pork. I think. I couldn't tell the difference. Pork belly should only really be crisp on top, not all the way round.
We did get some corkers for the staff and owners: The replies: "Sorry our plates are a little grainy." (read filthy) "Our chef worked with Gordon Ramsay" (I'll continue my comment without MY 3* name dropping) and "Our chef got called away, thats why your food has taken so long." (Where'd he go!?)
Effort A+: Performance: D- Could do better.
Shame, we could have / SHOULD have........ loved it.
I would also point out I have never worked for Gordon Ramsay, and unfortunately I did have to step out of the kitchen as a colleague had badly sliced her hand and needed first aid.
Me and the kids had Roast Pork very nice indeed, fresh veg were good and the sprouting brocolli was delicious.
The choice of napkin was interesting still cant make my mind up about the 'tea-towel' napkin still think I prefer either a crisp freshly laundered napkin or the disposable napkin, however the tea-towel did prove most useful when the waitress knocked my glass of wine into my lap!!
Even with the unfortunate wine incident overall it was very good and nice to see an effort being made so many places think they can serve what they like and get away with it, we will definetley be back. Note to Roger maybe the tables could get cleared down quicker the waitresses just seemed to walk past and then past again without even noticing anything untoward.
By the way seeing the Griffin offering meals for £3.95 is so off putting, just makes you wonder what they are serving ...........
We paid £8.95 for our roast at the Taveners not hugely expensive and a reasonable price I am prepared to pay for a good, fresh and not mass produced meal, a meal which was most enjoyable and where the meat was not plastic.
Some restaurants/pubs I'm sure will be feeling the pinch at the moment but I think they are doing themselves an injustice by these menus. Maybe I will try the Griffin and will let you know and hope they can prove me wrong .......
We ate at The Taverners, the evening after Trixie it seems, probably the 10th time we've visited, maybe more, we've stopped counting now!
And................ we still love the food as much as the first time we visited!
If maybe, .... there is a complaint to be made, it would be that the portions have got larger, oops no sweet order again, rats !
Ask me for my fave thing ever? It's gonna Pickled watermelon, which certainly sways my choice from the menu, I'll have whatever it's served with!
I had the lamb chops with roasted cherry toms and baked polenta and crisp tender green beans. The perfectly cooked chops were fragrant with rosemary and thyme and the cherry toms perfectly complemented the dish. I liked the golden baked polenta and I'm trying to recreate it at home this morning. The other half had the grilled lamb tongue with potato salad and watercress. It was gorgeous.
What we like about the Taverners is that the chef is constantly changing the menu, so you go back looking forward to tasting something new and always, always brilliantly cooked.
In the main the reviews were excellent and I have to say we weren't let down. The food was excellent, as someone said the portions are quite large, so once I'd polished off my yummy burger and chips I moved onto my daughters steak, my wifes pie and my daughters pie. Needless because of my now immense size I skipped on the deset but found room to try a taster of the communual lemon maringe pie! Needless to say it was delightful!
Nice friendly staff, lovely locals, a good atmosphere and reasonable prices left me wishing we could have gone again. Oh well, my Mum and Dad are there this week and I've told them to go!
See County Press article.
There is a large public car park 50 yards away
We take our disabled aunt who is always really well looked after and they thoroghly deserve their award
It was absolutely fabulous - lovely-looking pub, friendly people and utterly delicious food.
The Whitebait was wonderful: http://www.flickr.com/photos/itsaboyd/4395206988/
The great thing is in my humble opinion that they do a relatively short (but more than enough for all tastes and persuasions) menu extremely well rather than going for a list so long you've forgotten it all half way down and it all looks and tastes the same anyway.
Thank you M+C and reviewers above for sending us there. And thank you Taverners too.
We rarely manage 3 courses unless very very hungry, so decide when arriving whether to go starter or dessert, and the ‘my nans lemon meringue pie’ normally wins as it is fantastic, a real zingy treat, this alone warrants a trip. The ’hand raised’ (i.e. a bit scruffy) free range pork pie with homemade piccalilli is much tastier than the one I tried at that ‘F’word blokes pub in London, and at a much better cost, and here the famous london chef actually is in the kitchen. With The Taverners great food, atmosphere and service it makes this place a real gem. Well done and please keep up your very high standards.
We did have quiet a wait for our meals, but as everything is obviously cooked to order, this was not a problem.
Really good value.
We will go again.
I really can't praise the Taverners enough. They have a great ethos when it comes to seasonal, local produce, and their food is great. Nuff said!
My eight-year old son was mightily impressed that the children's menu included what we'd call at home "snacky lunch", but which was here described as "Mum Knows Best Platter" - a mix of fruit and veggie sticks with bread, cheese and a little pot of mayonnaise to dip into. He was very happy.
For dessert, we ordered the three puddings on the specials board, and shared. All three were hits: a creme brulée with cherries, served with shortbread; a honey parfait with poached pear (my particular favourite); and chocolate cake with coffee sauce and clotted cream. All three plates were scraped clean.
Other things that impressed were the freshly-squeezed orange juice, and the great range of speciality teas. Obviously, it's a good place if you like a pint with your meal, but equally good if you don't!
Friendly staff, too.
Also liked the little shop in the corner where you can buy bread and goodies to take home.
Will definitely be back, and on the strength of today's meal it goes straight into my top 4 island favourites (the others being Burrs and Olivo, both in Newport and - for a special occasion - The Hambrough in Ventnor).
Have to say the food was excellent friendly, my wife loved her Briddleford Veal, although we my have a problem staring the cute little claves in the face next time we go there!
unpretentious staff, always smiling, and strangely quirky like the menu, uniquely varied in shape size, colour and appearance.. althogether a memorable and interesting experience; even a Prince Harry lookalike in the bar!
We will go back, perhaps on a less frenetic evening.
Thoroughly reccommended - I will be going again soon.
Ian found room for a generous slab of beautifully zingy lemon meringue pie, and Milo the sticky toffee and date pudding, while being rather full I made do with a taste of each (obviously!) and a cleansing pot of jasmine tea.
It's the first time Ian's eaten at The Taverners and he was as impressed as I was. Yum.
Staff are friendly here, and we didnt want to leave unhappy, however, after an interminable wait, and there were few diners, the Steak and Ale pie was dry, crusty and lacklustre, and the fish and chips flattered to deceive with overfatty batter, and a limp salad. With no starters, and no desserts a bill of almost £100 left us with that uncomfortable nauseous feeling you get when the show doesnt match the billing, and the moment has gone. Sorry folks, must do better, and please, watch those prices. A bit tastier than the food..
We ate here last night thanks to your reviews and can´t praise the place enough.
A beautiful venue with beautiful food and oh-so friendly staff.
Everyone was friendly and welcoming, even though they were obviously busy. The friendly waiter who served us the delicious deep fried courgette flowers was kind enough to show us the garden where said starter had been grown´n picked for the menu that evening.
The lovely lady behind the bar was most welcoming to our children and provided them with crayons and scribble pads to entertain them while we (the paying adults had time to relax and enjoy).
We were most impressed with the food. Even the kids nuggets and fish fingers where hand made, along with the chips, no French fries here,,, we are talking real handmade chips.
We had a fantastic bottle of wine (recommended to us) which I am going to have to phone back, just for the name of the bottle.
The children had freshly squeezed orange juice which was an absolute pleasure, both for the young kids and the big ones as well.
The cherry on the pie (oh yes) was the delicious desserts, whilst the kids settled for the bucket of Ice-cream, Mr Alandia and myself shared what can only be described as the best lemon meringue we have ever eaten.
Named on the menu as ´My Nans Lemon Meringue´ I can only comment that I wish my grandmother had such fantastic baking abilities.
All in all a most wonderful evening that left us all oh-so impressed. What more can I say about this absoulute gem of an eating house (dare I use the word pub!)
We are leaving the island tommorrow on an early boat, after an amazing week on the beatiful isle our only regret is that we didnt discover the Taverners on our first day,, maybe if we had we wouldnt of left.
My final words and thoughts on The Taverners Isle of Wight
We will be back soon and thankyou for a wonderful evening.
It will be remembered and recommended to all of our friends
(yes we like to make our friends green with envy)
Thanks again to all at the Taverners.
N. Alandia & Family
This lemon meringue pie mentioned in other reviews really does need to be seen to be believed, it was actually as tall as the salt grinder on our table (photos to prove if anyone likes :p) and was as light as a feather.
My 94 year old grandfather is a regular patron there thanks to us, and the last time we visited for his birthday, the owners were kind enough to move their own car so we could get ours in. The service is friendly and the food is always seasonal, well cooked and delicious. I used to come to the Taverners when I was very small, I remember the jazz piano man playing in the corner, and the home made fudge you used to get at the end...mmm...and it's gone from strength to strength. A must visit.
The food was well cooked and delicious and the service was excellent,we could not help trying each
others dishes.We go out to a lot of restaurants and thought this was somewhere we would come back
too.Thanks for a lovely meal.
Puddings were also a hit: apple crumble with "real" custard; "my nan's lemon meringue"; quince tart with vanilla ice cream; sticky date and toffee pudding all absolutely scrummy. The only "fail" was the final dessert choice of frozen white chocolate choux pastry, which really was a solid lump of a thing. I was surprised it made it on to the otherwise excellent menu.
But all round a splendid meal with lots of polished plates.
You are just as likely to have your card details abused by someone who swipes your card as someone who hold onto it....in fact I would trust someone who acknowledges they are holding on too it as recourse would be much easier and evident.
I work for a pub / restaurant on the Island, and I enjoy eating out, and the biggest problem I find is that we ALL serve the same food and we ALL order from the SAME suppliers, and it was really nice to see an original and varied menu with different suppliers or home made stock.
We seemed to get the last free table in the house, every other table was filled or reserved and the bar was booming, yet food service was not delayed at all and was absolutely faultless. The staff were friendly and professional, and the food was of the highest quality, the waiting times were very small and I would gladly recommend to anyone and we will certainly be going back.
The prices are fair for the quality of the food, although my eyes were bigger than my belly so I missed out on what looked like an AMAZING chocolate brownie (no starters for me next time) And frankly the best Suet pastry I've ever tasted, also the three times cooked chips were beautiful.
Obviously no-one get's it right all the time, and of course sometimes someone will have a dis-satisfactory evening, but I would urge those that do, to not write it off and give it another go, as I hope others would if they came to my establishment and didn't have a good time, no-ones gets it right all the time no matter how hard we try. The Taverners sets a good example worthy of notice.
They really do make the best of local produce here, and even the basics like chips are excellent - hand cut and really crunchy. Desserts were also great, though I was too full to do anything but try a weeny bit of everyone else's! The honey parfait with banana bread and baked banana was stunning.
Consistently good all-round.
but ! ......
Rook salad, causing somewhat of a furore .... (get over it!) gamey morsels of meat served with diced beetroot, green salad a crushed hazlenuts £5.95
somewhat disappointing I'm afraid. The meat was tender enough but a sinew skin was left on the pieces of mets making it necessary to peel off, but really was just the overall lack of flavour from the beetroot & dressing made it flat & bit rather bland. wish i had ordered the usually lovely whitebait .. oh well.
Steak & Ale Pie .... £10.95? i think ....now what a great pie, full of soft tender meat and lovely pastry served with peas & as advertised 'triple' cooked chips. The pie excellent - the chips were, in my mind not triple cooked (I have made these myself- and i dont know how they managed to stay so pale if they were triple cooked ) , far too pale & floury - I wanted crispy crunchy edged chips, instead they were big lumps of slightly flavourless potato - what a shame. The pie would be far better served with another vegetable, as there was an abundance of chips for such a pastry heavy plate. or even some chutney to accompany.
Chilled white chocolate rice pudding £4.95 served with Grand marinier orange syrup .. very tasty although I was a little full by this point so couldnt fully aprreciate it ! would be nice if the de-pipped the oranges though .. just a small detail
overall the standard is as ever better than most pub on teh isle of wight, service very friendly and the prices very reasonable.
Again my husbands meal of steak, chips and mushrooms with a bernaise sauce was freshly and superbly cooked. Only one point was that the steak wasn't the best of quality and would have benefited from being hung for a while. Sorry we're big foodies. The pub itself (including toilets) was clean and full of character. The gift shop full of quality and interesting products. A delight to find a pub that cares. Bloomin' well done!
Lovely pink beef, duck-fat roasties, perfect veg - what more could you want?
And the staff are great too.
And they've got a nice little playground out the back.
And the dark chocolate tart was terrific.
Over and out.
I love what they have done with the pub, I love their own ale, the food?
The pie was not great, the top hard and the bottom soggy. Innards consisted of fatty meat and was lacking in taste. I don't know why the art of pie making seems to have gone, I can't remember the last time I had a stand-out one. My dog ate most of this.
Chips? Certainly not triple-cooked, not crisp and crunchy.
Sticky toffee pud, good.
Perhaps I ordered the wrong thing, I'll give it another go.
The staff where nice and beautiful and the place had a big open fire and was really warm.
All in all a very great find for a very enjoyable meal.
Cant wait until the next birthday do !
The staff were very pleasant but one of them seemed to be a bit irritable and offish.
The food I will give marks 7 out of 10 because the starter was Bembridge Prawns of which they were not.The so called Prawns were in fact Shrimps.
Matt and Cat respond: Thanks for your comment, Robert. Cat likes chicken too but has rarely seen it on the menu at The Taverners.
Also whilst I'm replying. Because we are commited to only using Island meats, and there is only one chicken supplier (Brownrigg) on the Island, who deliver on fridays only we don't have a regular supply of it. We do occasionally put it on our specials board along with Brownrigg duck and try to alternate between them, however we find the duck dishes are far more popular.