Category: Cowes & East Cowes
Some people imagine that Matt and Cat are orderly souls; with a neatly-written list of candidate venues to review, fully researched and scheduled in their diaries at regular intervals.
The truth is so far removed from this cosy vision of administrative tidiness that, to be honest, M&C could probably collect the prize for the most chaotic and disorderly food reviewers on the Isle of Wight - if only they could organise themselves to do so.
Take today. When Cat finally woke from her slumbers at mid-morning o’clock, she was told by amnesiac Matt that they had a meeting. In fifteen minutes. Half an hour’s drive away. And he only knew this because his phone had reminded him with one of those nagging but essential beeps. Cat threw on some clothes and tugged a knitted beany hat over her knotted bedhair before driving her and Matt as fast as the speed limit would allow to their rendezvous at the Folly Inn, East Cowes.
They had a pleasant morning catching up with an ex-colleague and Cat, who had not had time for breakfast, subsisted on a vast cup of coffee and all of the tiny complementary almond biscuits that she could snaffle. Their meeting over, M&C decided to visit Waitrose, as they were in the area, to buy some much sought after shelled pistachios. Then it was off to lunch. Or for Cat, her first meal of the day. And this, dear reader, is how they roll.
Matt and Cat love eating out in Cowes, but they always approach a new review in the town with a certain caution.
It seems that M&C’s style of leavening their articles with impertinence and occasional sarcasm is one that riles Cowes more than any other Island area. They welcome readers weighing in, but it seems as though Cowesians are just a little more trigger-happy with the green ink. Take Matt and Cat's 2011 review of the Little Gloster, for example, which resulted in peevish objections to the use of the words 'gurgler' and 'breathless'. Other Cowes reviews, now thankfully superseded and archived, raised hackles even further. Learned friends were consulted. Strongly-worded letters were despatched to M&C. Not that Matt and Cat pay any attention to that - and, to prove it, recently they were back in Cowes undeterred to venture boldly into what some could perceive as the heartland of trendy yachtiness, the impossibly chic new Moocow in Cross Street.
The Royal Family's junior members have always courted controversy.
Who can forget Princess Diana and her lively chum Sarah Ferguson dressing up as policewomen and partying in Annabel's nightclub back in the 1980s. More recently some of you may have clicked onto TMZ to see Prince Harry's... er 'billiards'. However, these titled youngsters could learn a thing or two from the teenage Princess Elizabeth. Who? You know, HM the Queen. When she was just seventeen she got the nation's attention by spinning around the dancefloor of London's trendy Bagatelle restaurant to the Latin beats of Edmundo Ros. But what's all this got to do with a new tapas bar in Cowes? Nothing really. Other than when Matt and Cat entered the intimate venue they soon found themselves tapping their feet to Edmundo Ros' rumba music.
But let's unravel a bit. M&C had already scoped out Brawn's during their preamble to Cowes Week - and they thought the venue looked promising. However, as they'd already stuffed themselves that day with crab and chips they only had room for a nice cup of tea. Yet, salivating over the menu, they vowed to return.
Eating out in Cowes Week is cheaper in 2012 than it was in 2011 - that's the unexpected conclusion of the annual price survey that Matt and Cat undertook.
Despite popular wisdom suggesting that food prices in the famous sailing town only ever go up, when Matt and Cat visited Cowes to check on prices of some of the more popular foods - including a portion of chips, an all-day breakfast and a burger - the opposite seemed to be true.
Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week asked Matt and Cat to survey a selection of Cowes high street prices in 2011 just before the start of regatta week, and they repeated the survey this year. Although some prices had indeed gone up, most had stayed the same and many had even dropped. In particular they found that, on average, food prices had gone down.
So far this year's been great news for cosy suppers round a roaring log fire; or shaking the rain off your galoshes before nestling down for a hot toddy. But opportunities for relaxed al fresco lunches have been, until recently, almost entirely absent.
With that in mind, the first time the sun looked as though it might peer with watery gaze through the clouds at any time near midday, Matt and Cat were out like greyhounds from the trap. They headed to one of their favourite places for a gentle stroll, the delightful grounds of Osborne House. As a mealtime wasn't far away - is it ever? - they were naturally enough moved to consider the tripartite options for eating at Osborne. Dismissing the pleasant but small-scale tea kiosk at the Swiss Cottage, they took a good look at the cafeteria in the visitor centre as they bought their tickets. It was absolutely heaving with lively pensioners who'd just toddled off a nearby brace of coaches, so that left as a lunching venue the Terrace Restaurant, in the former chapel of the main house.