About Matt & Cat's Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
We thought you deserved some sort of an explanation.
Q. Who are Matt and Cat?
A. Matt and Cat are a couple of Isle of Wight locals who enjoy the occasional meal out. They claim no better qualifications or experience than this. These reviews are their personal opinions. If you consider that their opinions do not coincide with your own, they would not be at all surprised. For obvious reasons, they don't want to show pictures of themselves or whatever. This is supposed to be anonymous, see? And if you are looking to find out more about them, check their policy statement first. There's also a radio interview with John Hannam you can listen to, to see if you recognise their voices or something.
Q. How can I get Matt and Cat to come to my restaurant/pub/cafe?
Q. Who looks at this stuff, anyway?
A. You'd be surprised: Matt & Cat were. If you're interested in webstats, read on. If not, avert your gaze. Between 4,000-10,000 page views per day in 2009-2010 (it's quite seasonal, not surprisingly, with a big peak in the summer) are recorded on the website itself - you can see the latest stats on the sidebar at the bottom right, or look at the smallprint at the bottom of each full review to see how many people have viewed any individual review. Using more conventional Google Analytics the site consistently got between 300-650 absolute unique visitors per day in the same period. Visitors almost all come from UK IP addresses, but other than them about 2% come from the US and Canada, 1% come from Germany, and another 1% everywhere else.
Q. How does your rating system work?
A. We prefer to rely on our flowery prose, but if you must look at ratings it's simple enough. At the bottom of each review you will find the categories to which we allocate the establishment. For example 'Ryde', 'Cafes', 'Family friendly' and so on. Included in here is one of three rating categories: 'We love!'; 'We like'; and 'We don't like'. Hopefully these are self–explanatory. If a review does not include one of these - and several do not - it means that we either don't feel strongly one way or the other, can't make our minds up yet, or that there was some reason why we couldn't rate the establishment (such as we couldn't get served). By reading the review you should be in no doubt as to which of these applies.
Don't forget, too, that this is an eating out guide, not a directory of tourist attractions. We only rate a venue on how good it is as a place to eat. Just because we don't like the food doesn't mean it isn't great in other respects - plenty of really good pubs and bars, for example, are hardly perfect places for a meal.
Q. How do I get a wrong or out-of-date review or comment changed?
A. You have to wait for Matt and Cat to come back. You can always leave a comment on the blog, too (although if you're connected with the establishment please read this advice first). Reviews are regularly updated if they make a return visit, and their opinions do change quite regularly. So keep looking. But be warned, if they gave a real stinker of a review, they ain't likely to come back soon.
If there's a major development - such as a place closing down - which you think readers need to know then you can at any time simply add a comment to the review with the information. Matt and Cat review all comments and if they think it is significant enough they may amend the review as necessary.
It is not normally possible to edit comments and Matt and Cat will not usually entertain requests to do so - although there's nothing to stop you adding another comment to correct your earlier one. In rare circumstances they will think about editing a comment- but not just because you've changed your mind. See also our policy on comments.
Q. Do Matt and Cat get paid for this?
A. No way! And they don't get free meals either. They don't ask for money from anyone, not you the reader nor the restaurateurs. In fact this enterprise costs them money. They pay for all of this out of the goodness of their big, wholesome hearts. Isn't that lovely?
Q. Why do Matt and Cat run this website?
A. Good question - actually they're not entirely sure, but it's something they enjoy doing. Both Matt and Cat love the Isle of Wight and love to tell people about how great it is here, so perhaps the website is just a way of pointing out some of the really great food you can get on the Island.
One thing they're not particularly bothered about is promoting businesses. This website is about food and eating out; so even the most splendid small business, run by the most charming young couple, in the most deserving and deprived location will not receive any favourable review unless it also provides decent food and service.
A. Establishments that get a rating of either 'We love' or 'We like' are entitled to display, if they so wish, one of our stickers. Some choose to do so and some don't. That's all it means. So the sticker indicates quite a range of opinions from 'we absolutely love this place' to' this place isn't too bad'. It shows that we think the place is worth visiting but is not a guarantee that everything about the place is good. Indeed very few places can get everything right every time. You'll need to actually read our review to see why we recommend the place - and of course it's possible we've changed our review since we gave the sticker out, too.
So if you've had a bad - or a good - experience in a 'recommended' place, then your best option is to leave a comment on the review and let everyone else know. Then anyone who pays heed to the sticker and comes to see the review will see your opinion as well as ours. This means the system is self-policing: most places wouldn't want to advertise a website that is filled with negative opinions about their food.
If you want to get one of these see our special page of information for restaurateurs and proprietors to learn about how they are issued.
Q. Why are your reviews different from the Scores on the Doors star ratings?
A.You will find a link to the council's environmental health department's 'Scores on the Doors' website on the side bar of every review, where it has been since the scheme was launched. We did ask the council if we could link directly to the score for each establishment but apparently it can't be technically done, yet.
Scores on the doors measure health and safety and hygiene. So it's worth checking out the council website as well as this one if you particualarly want to know about food hygiene. The star rating is not a measure of the quality of the restaurant. Often the rating the council gives isn't the same as the review. This is because unlike the council Matt and Cat cannot review safety policies and training, nor do they have special access to a venue's kitchens and non-public areas so can only comment on what they experience as members of the public. The 'Scores on the Doors' rating is not usually a factor in the reviews because even the cleanest and most highly rated place might be the most uninspiring and serve bland food indifferently.
Q. Are Matt and Cat professionals?
A. You'd be amazed how many irate restaurateurs get on their hind legs and accuse M &C of not being professional. Funnily enough it's usually the ones who get bad reviews. But guess what, they're right! Matt and Cat have never owned a restaurant, cooked food for money, been employed in the catering business or won any awards for foodiness. They don't know the names of many famous chefs nor do they understand about rosettes, stars and ribbons - or much care. They are just people who eat out, and that's it. Matt once cooked a lettuce and cornflake curry for goodness sake. That's how much he knows.
Q. Do the pubs and restaurants know you are coming?
A. Absolutely not. Normally, Matt and Cat turn up unannounced, and don't tell the establishment until after they have gone. They get exactly the same experience as random diners walking in off the street, and yes, they do pay full price too. Otherwise there might be a danger that the establishment might do something different to normal.
Q. Can I copy or reproduce any of this material?