Loaves and Fishes, Godshill: Archive review

The Loaves and Fishes is now closed.

Matt and Cat have a good friend from the West Wight who's a bit of a bon viveur, and who enjoys exchanging notes with them on the latest Island eateries, preferably over a glass of some appropriate quaffage.

Tail-on king prawns with monkfish tail served in a garlic butter and cheese sauce

Over the years they've discovered a remarkable congruence; the more he denounces a place, the more M and C love it. It never fails. So when, during a recent encounter, the fine fellow hastened to pour the most extravagant scorn on Godshill's Loaves and Fishes restaurant Matt and Cat knew that they had to try it. Read on to see if the magic worked this time!

Follow up:

A beeline was made for Godshill, to try the Loaves and Fishes. Several previous attempts to eat at the venue had failed because it was shut, but this time the lights twinkled welcomingly. A garrulous waitress, who turned out to be the proprietress, welcomed her guests, showed them where to hang their coats, and made them very welcome and comfortable. A couple of chaps propping up the bar were almost as jovial and, even though the restaurant was pretty empty, it felt warm and inviting.

Matt and Cat sipped drinks at the bar whilst pondering the large menu chalked up on the wall. A delicious range of entirely fish-based food was on offer. Let's make one thing clear: if you can't or won't eat fish, then just pass by. The clue's in the name - this is most definitely a fish restaurant. Delicacies on offer included seabass fillets in an asparagus/sherry and wholegrain mustard cream sauce and petit pois; six green lip mussels topped with pesto, and many more.

Deep-fried calamari

M and C, no great fish experts, were spoilt for choice and dithered greatly. The helpful waitress was more than happy to give advice, and finally Matt chose deep-fried calamari starter, followed by tiger prawns with monkfish tail served in a garlic butter and cheese sauce. Cat, having enquired about the likelihood of bones, opted for swordfish steak cooked on a flame barbeque with a Thai lime sweet chilli butter and salad.

After ordering, the diners were shown to a window table. "I'll put you here," said the waitress with refreshing candour, "then someone else might see you in the window and come in." It's an old trick, and it seemed to work, for within a few minutes another party arrived and the place began to liven up. The little front room of the restaurant was definitely the most atmospheric, and much effort had gone into setting it out. Fishing nets and floats lined the walls, and as well as ancient flagstones a spectacular Victorian tiled floor was only eclipsed by the gleaming blacked range of what must once have been a kitchen. The whole place was lit by countless little candles and lights, making an exceptionally attractive place to eat. Out the back is a much bigger room - better for a big party, doubtless, but M & C were glad to be in the little parlour. Thankfully the fishing theme did not extend to plastic lobsters; just some artfully arranged oyster shells and a synthetic fish on a stick.

Matt was entertained by how easily this consummate professional had read him; and impressed by the generous response

With hardly any delay the calamari arrived, along with a tiny warmed loaf. The deep-fried squid rings were absolutely fresh and piping hot. Cat gingerly tried one as Matt dug in, and expressed her surprise at how tender they were. The trouble is, squid, like liver, is so often cooked into rubbery inedibility that it's easy to assume there's no other way. Good squid is delicate, moist and tender - as this was. There was a choice of dips, and Matt had picked sweet chilli sauce. He was slightly disappointed to receive the standard sweet chilli from the bottle, but nonetheless it was a great accompaniment to the sizzling squid rings.

Swordfish steak cooked on a flame barbeque with a Thai lime sweet chilli butter and salad

Cat's swordfish steak was next to come on the scene, also decorated with sweet chilli sauce. A wonderful smell of seared meat rose from the slab of fish. It came with what the waitress had described as a garnish of salad - which in other restaurants might have been described as a substantial side-salad. Alongside was a choice of chips or potatoes, and Cat had a big bowl of chunky chips, also piping hot, fresh from the fryer. The steak was really meaty, almost like pork. Its fishy taste was tempered with garlic cloves and the chilli sauce. A couple of bones added a frisson to the eating experience but they were not Queen Mother-bothering splinters.

The prawns and monkfish was served in a little bowl, and also came with what was in this case most definitely a side-salad, complete with a delicious home-made coleslaw. Chips came in another bowl, and the whole ensemble was well-presented and most appetising. Matt was just reflecting on how he was going to mop up that garlicky, cheesy juice when, in a moment of uncanny timeliness, the chef himself appeared with two more of those delicious fresh-baked rolls, offering them to Matt as sauce soakers. Matt was surprised and delighted. It later transpired, as the waitress could not help but report, that she had been so worried by the look on Matt's face when she delivered his main course, she'd reported to the chef that the portion was not going to be enough! Matt was entertained by how easily this consummate professional had read him; and impressed by the generous response made almost before he'd begun to think the thought himself. An outstanding bit of intuitive service indeed, and a really enjoyable dish made even better.

Matt and Cat's bill
Drinks 3.25
Calamari starter 5.95
Swordfish steak 11.95
Monkfish tail and tiger prawns 13.95
Bread-and-butter pudding 4.50

Total: 39.60

Mellowed by this highly enjoyable experience, Matt and Cat elected to share a pudding. Once more the waitress sallied forth, and this time she had clearly decided what her customers were going to order. By the time she had finished describing in exquisite detail the home-made peach bread and butter pudding with Baileys and Tia Maria, there was hardly any point running over the various other freezer-fodder options, which sounded like they might come in a stainless-steel bowl. M & C, clay in the hands of this woman, dutifully took direction and ordered the bread-and-butter pudding.

Home-made peach bread and butter pudding with Baileys and Tia Maria

Of course, she was right, and this pud was the tops. A thick, custardy sauce suffused the hot pudding, which was crammed with dried fruit and peach chunks soaked in alcohol. Never overwhelming, this unusual concoction nonetheless rounded the meal off with a definite memorable taste twang. A rare beast: the sophisticated bread-and-butter pudding.

Replete, and very contented, Matt and Cat wandered up to the bar to settle up. As the evening was quietening down, the chef and his colleague had come out and were chatting with customers. There was no doubt these chaps knew their business, speaking about seafood with a passion. The final surprise of the evening came when the bill arrived - just shy of 40. Not the cheapest, but for a meal of this quality, and especially when M & C couldn't help but compare it with nearly 55 for a far inferior offering in Mojac's recently, this was good value indeed.

So, once more the magic has worked. Matt and Cat's friend has unerringly sniffed out another eating-house which they found to be delightful. A charming, well-laid out and welcoming venue, most definitely recommended.

The Loaves and Fishes is now closed.

 Published: 13th March 2009
Categories: Restaurants, We love!, Family friendly, Newport, Ventnor area, Fish and chips, Tapas

13 comments (newest first)

Comment from: Annie

I think that the Loaves and Fishes has excellent food, with a warm inviting atmosphere. The staff are well trained and polite, and the lighting and decor has been tastefully thought out.
I would highly recommend it!

28/07/09 @ 14:16
Comment from: Another Bon Viveur

I provide tourist accommodation services and my guests often eat at Loaves and Fishes. Their assessments are varied.

One couple old me it was a far superior meal to one they had at the Red Lion in Freshwater.

Others enjoy the entertainment provided by the ‘garrulous’ proprietoress.

Some are impressed by the 5 hygiene award stars.

Some can’t wait to go back and some will never visit again ………

A good friend eats at The Loaves & Fishes regularly.

I sum this up as you can’t please all of the people all of the time and it’s good that the island offers a variety of places to eat.

Matt & Cat this is an excellent website!

24/04/09 @ 12:23
Comment from: Steve

This is obviously one that divides people! My wife and I went to Loaves & Fishes last week for a rather unique evening’s entertainment. I like the branding and don’t object to a fish only menu at a fish restuarant but beyond that I couldn’t find anything else to like I’m afraid. Fans of the reality tv show with Raymond Blanc where he lets amateurs run a restaurent will find Loaves and Fishes quite similar to week two of the series.

Example: Most of the deserts are brought in from Calbourne (no problem as they are excellent products). However, having heard 6 times as other tables were served how the ‘ice-cream was the best ever’ I was a bit surprised when the next table were told they could only have Walls icecream with their cheesecake otherwise it would be too expensive! I guess it was honest.

The honesty continued. When my wife was asked how her meal was she said it was OK but perhaps a bit too much potatoe salad. ‘Well, it comes as a batch so we might as well put it on the plate’ was the explanation.

The food in general was average and the portions large and had it been a pub I would probably have been OK with it. However, the prices are not pub prices and certainly the service is not restaurent quality.

We didn’t even bother waiting for a dessert which is almost unheard of for me!

17/04/09 @ 12:32
Comment from: charles

Having dined at both Loaves and Fishes and Mojacs before Im astonished you can call Mojacs a ‘far inferrior offering.’

Am I really the first person to point out to you that the reason your bill was £15 cheaper here is because you had two seafood dishes and soft drinks rather than two steaks and wine.

I’ve dined at Mojacs for many years and will continue to do so. I pray your readers realise how wrong you are before they judge these businesses by your misguided words.

Matt and Cat respond: your prayers are appreciated. We put the bill up there so you can make just that comparison for yourself. Anyway, it wasn’t the price we were grousing about at Mojac’s, it was the elderly vegetables.

16/04/09 @ 12:15
Comment from: Mike B  

Firstly, thanks to Matt and Cat for the excellent website - exactly what IoW needed!
We had dinner at The Loaves and Fishes over the Easter weekend and were very pleased that we took the trouble to get a taxi from Ventnor to Godshill because we had a great evening. Dez is a terrific host and our waitress was charming and very efficient.
We (my wife and yours truly) both had the deep fried calamari starter which was tasty, tender and we were given very generous portions.
My wife had the sea bass fillets as her main which she raved about (I had a taste and must say it was fantastic). I had prawns (out of the shell) pan fried in a garlic butter and chilli sauce which was also very good and, again, a generous portion.
The bill including a bottle of wine, a beer and one coffee was just over £50 which was good value. We will be back here in future. Highly recommended.

13/04/09 @ 14:41
Comment from: Taddy

This is a good overall, but not ecxellent, seafood restaurant. Firstly, when the ‘tourist season’ is in full force, as it was when we visited, the average waiting time is 50 minutes for a main course. However the portion are generous and cooked well, the light crisp batter with the cod being of particular note. It is fairly priced. The main problems are the waiting times, limited opening hours, and also the fact it is located in the centre of the island (not the place for a nautically themed fish restaurant), competing with the more populist and cheaper Griffin which will always be more popular with the casual visitor from our cousins from the northern regions.

05/04/09 @ 16:23
Comment from: GJ

I am just a simple country boy and find all this a bit odd - sea food restaurants sell sea food, and if you don’t like sea food there are many other places to dine.

Isn’t this the same as complaining that a Ford dealer doesn’t sell Vauxhalls?

As for a business point of view, this site is an eating out guide, not a provider of business advice on what food restaurants should serve. Presumably they have done their sums and reckon that there is sufficient demand to make a success of a seafood restaurant.

02/04/09 @ 16:38
Comment from: David

Wow! That took a while! But thanks for your well thought out comments.

Would you complain if you were a vegetarian and the restaurant didn’t cater to your choices? Why shouldn’t both vegetarians and seafood intolerants be offered a choice? When was the last time that you went to any restaurant where there was no vegetarian or meat options? Have you ever been to a restaurant where there were no fish options?

Stumped? We are too. Vegetarian restaurants make a statement. “We don’t want to kill or eat meat. We think that is wrong.” Kudoes to them. We wouldn’t eat meat if it didn’t taste so wonderful either.

Seafood restaurants and we’re sure that Rick Stein will agree with us here, kill their fish. We might be wrong but we just had the most delicious Thai Steamed Spicy Mussels for lunch and they definitely entered the pan alive and didn’t exit the pan the same way.

Perhaps the Loaves and Fishes have a personal vendetta against finned creatures and wheat based baked items. And they don’t want to kill lambs or baby calves? That’s great but would it kill them to sautee an aubergine?

From a strictly practical business point of view, and that was our comment, it doesn’t make sense that you exclude the two whole segments of the dining public out of the equation by choosing to serve only seafood. Also my dad won’t eat fish and so we have to take him to Mojacs. He loves the fillet. *grin*

31/03/09 @ 17:31
Comment from: David

We too have tried to dine here but to no success, as it has not been open. Thank goodness for the Taverners which is always open and serving some of the best food on the island.

Our beef (pardon the pun) with this restaurant is that it doesn’t cater for vegetarians or the fish-intolerant.

But a new beef emerges with this review. What chef serves monkfish with a garlic butter cheese sauce? The picture didn’t help it’s cause. We suspect that Matt would eat cardboard and rave if it was smothered in a garlic butter cheese sauce. Cue their next review where a cauliflower cheese has a starring role. Please see Lakeside Restaurant at Rookley Country Park.

And so we now count ourselves amongst that number who, like Matt and Cat’s friend, are “bon viveurs". We’ll read the reviews and take the appropriate precautions. Cheers.

Matt and Cat respond: Thanks for your comment, David. The Loaves and Fishes is an excellent seafood restaurant. Would you complain if a vegetarian restaurant did not serve enough meat..?

28/03/09 @ 16:30
Comment from: Tracy

Thanks for your recommendation, only got one word to say……….Yummy!
And what friendly people, we loved it too!

26/03/09 @ 23:36
Comment from: MT

I live on the island and its my favourite restaurant. Friendly atmosphere and scruptious
food.. dont hestitate to try it.

25/03/09 @ 19:17
Comment from: GJ

Very much enjoyed our dinner there on Saturday. Good food and excellent service.

24/03/09 @ 16:32
Comment from: Dawn

I and my daughter have been to the loaves and fishes and we had the same wonderful experience as cat and Matt, clearly a restaurant not to be missed.

19/03/09 @ 13:14

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