Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide

We thought you deserved some sort of an explanation.

Matt and Cat

Q. Who are Matt and Cat?

A. ‘Matt and Cat’ are Matthew Chatfield and Catherine James; a couple of Isle of Wight locals who enjoy the occasional meal out. We claim no better qualifications or experience than this. Our reviews are our personal opinions. If you consider that our opinions do not coincide with your own, we  would not be at all surprised. For obvious reasons, we don’t want to show pictures of ourselves or whatever. This is supposed to be anonymous, see? And if you are looking to find out more about us, check our policy statement first. There’s also a radio interview with John Hannam you can listen to, if you fancy trying to recognise our voices or something.

Q. How can I get Matt and Cat to come to my venue?

A. See our special page of information for restaurateurs and proprietors

Q. Who looks at this stuff, anyway?

A. You’d be surprised: we were. If you’re interested in web stats, read on. If not, avert your gaze. Using Google Analytics the site consistently got between 200-800 visitors per day throughout 2018. Summer months are much busier, and there are substantial peaks at holiday times. Visitors almost all come from UK IP addresses but, other than those, about 2% come from the US and Canada, 1% come from Germany, and another 1% everywhere else.

Q. What is your relationship with the Isle of Wight County Press?

A. We have long recommended that anyone interested in the Island should read our favourite local newspaper, the Isle of Wight County Press. From July 2014 we have been regular columnists, writing a fortnightly review for the printed paper, which is also published on the IWCP website shortly after it appears in print. A longer version of the review appears here on our website.

Here are some IWCP special questions and answers:
Does this mean you’re you giving up your website?
No, far from it! Each review we write for the IWCP will have a longer version published on our website; and of course we’ll keep on doing other reviews too.
Does the IWCP dictate what places you review?
No, we’re still as independent as ever: we get to choose which places we review, and we are invited to say what we like! Ooer. As if we wouldn’t.
Does the County Press pay for the food?
No, we’re still visiting restaurants anonymously, unannounced and personally paying for all the meals that we review. If we go to special events where it isn’t a paid-for review, we’ll make that clear just as we do here on the website.
What venue will be featured in your next review?
Pick up the County Press at your newsagent to see our latest review. Where will be next? There’s only one way to find out!

Q. How does your rating system work?

See our ratings explained page.

Q. How do I get a wrong or out-of-date review or comment changed?

A. You can always leave a comment (although if you’re connected with the establishment please read this advice first). Otherwise you’ll mostly have to wait for us to make another visit and write another review.

  • We do sometimes pop back to a venue, particularly if we think there might be something new to be said, plus we have been known to change our minds about a place. So keep looking. But be warned, if we gave a real stinker of a review, we ain’t likely to come back soon – like everyone, we don’t really want to spend our hard-earned on a miserable experience.
  • If there’s a major development – such as a place closing down – which you think our readers need to know then you can at any time simply add a comment to the review with the information. We review all comments and if we think it is significant enough we may amend the review as necessary.
  • It is not normally possible to edit comments and we 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 we will consider 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. The bulk of the reviews on this website we wrote for free, as our hobby (November 2005 to June 2014). Many we still do. Nowadays we sometimes do get paid to write, but still not paid to eat. To paraphrase the great man himself, we’re paid to sell newspapers, not restaurants. The County Press pays us to write our columns, but that’s all. The food that we review is paid for by us – there is no County Press expense account – and we can easily be out of pocket. Overall ‘Matt and Cat’ still costs us more money than we make from it. We’re not in it to make our fortunes, which is a good job. We don’t ask for money from restaurateurs, and they don’t give us free food in exchange for a review on this website.

Q. Yeah, but you must get free food sometimes?

Indeed we do. Matt didn’t get that portly through his own culinary skills. We might get invited to a venue as their guests, or to an event or opening night or that sort of thing. We like to report news about food and eating out on the Island, and that sometimes happens in ways other than reviews. If we write about an event like that, the article will be tagged ‘News and comment‘ and ‘Article‘ to distinguish it from those tagged ‘Review‘. It also would not have a star rating. We might also post an album of annotated photos on our Facebook page, for example. Our game, our rules. If you want to invite us to something you think we might be interested in, please get in touch.

We keep all our receipts, so if you doubt us, here’s an undertaking: if you can prove that we ate free food in exchange for a review (not an article), we’ll promise to publish the evidence and apologise.

Q. Why do Matt and Cat run this website?

A. Good question. Actually we’re not entirely sure, but it’s something we enjoy doing. We both love the Isle of Wight and love to tell people about how great it is here. Primarily, 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. We want to let the world know (through this website) which are the good places and the not so good.

Q. What do those green ‘Matt & Cat Recommended’ stickers mean?

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 Food Standards Agency star ratings?

A. You will find a link to the government Food Standards Agency’s food hygiene website on the sidebar of every review, where it has been since the scheme was adopted. These scores measure health and safety and hygiene. So it’s worth checking out the FSA website as well as this one if you particularly 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, we cannot review safety policies and training, nor do we have special access to a venue’s kitchens and non-public areas so can only comment on what we experience as members of the public. The FSA 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 us of not being professional. Funnily enough it’s usually the ones who get bad reviews. But guess what, they’re right! We’ve never owned a restaurant, cooked food for money, been employed in the catering business or won any awards for foodiness. We don’t know the names of many famous chefs nor do we understand about rosettes, stars and ribbons – or much care. We 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, we turn up unannounced, and generally the first a restaurant will hear about our visit is when the review is published. We get exactly the same experience as random diners walking in off the street, and yes, we do pay full price too – we don’t even go as discount voucher tourists. 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?

A. See our copyright guidelines.

Q. Seriously, who are Matt and Cat? Why the secrecy?

A. Some people – usually people who’ve been on the rough edge of one of our reviews – really would like to find out who we are so they can put a stop to our activities. They write to our Internet Service Provider. They write to Matt’s employer, they write to Cat’s employer. They engage solicitors, and investigators. They ask questions of our friends. Seriously, all these things have happened. So far, if you’re reading this we are still here. So we thought it worth setting out our policy on anonymity for the avoidance of doubt.

We, as Matt and Cat, wish to remain anonymous and do not wish to publish pictures of ourselves, or not often anyway. This is purely to facilitate anonymous reviewing; if a place doesn’t know it’s being reviewed then it will likely treat us the same as any other punter. We have no wish to hide from our responsibilities or appear to be devious. We can be contacted through this website at any time, and will answer enquiries using our real names in all likelihood. Plenty of people know who we are and where we live and work, and who our families are, and so on. You are not alone if you have discovered these things, and we won’t be worried if you threaten to reveal them. However if you do, you risk spoiling the enjoyment of those who do like to read this website.

So please do not contact our employers and complain about this website. It is nothing to do with them. The website is a private enterprise published solely by Pinkeye Graphics Ltd, to whom all enquiries may be addressed using the link at the bottom of every page.

Please also do not trouble our internet service providers. They are not liable for our work and not interested. Frankly, if you think this is offensive or immoral, you really don’t know much about the internet.