Appley Manor Hotel – the Manor Inn Restaurant, Manor Inn or just The Manor? Rather like Kate Cottage this venue seems to have got so excited over its publicity that it’s hard to say which it is. Careful study of its website will reveal an answer for those who care – but Matt and Cat went there for food, not logomachy.
The Appley Manor is a grand old pile on the outskirts of Ryde, which has supplemented its hotel trade with a very substantial restaurant in the carvery style. A huge, low-ceilinged extension accommodates acres of space, and a bar so long you could play skittles on it.
Matt and Cat settled themselves at a table, dutifully noted the number and reviewed the fare on offer. The menu was typical for such family-dining venues, with the commendable addition of a substantial vegetarian section focussed on pasta, which did manage to go beyond cheese and omelettes. The specials board was the real revelation: a large range of dishes was chalked on the wall, making the choice actually pretty good – and something for most pockets as well.
Cat was feeling the need to eat a proper meal. Matt insipidly pointed her at the home-made chicken masala, or spinach and ricotta cannelloni, but to no avail. Dismissing his feeble suggestions she bared her teeth and with a low throaty growl commanded “Meat!”. Matt backed away to the food-ordering counter where he swiftly ordered her a char-grilled fillet steak from the grill menu. Sometimes it’s the only thing to do. Scanning the specials he chose for himself beef bourguignon in red wine, garnished with field mushrooms and silverskin onions. En route back to the table carrying the drinks Matt reflected with satisfaction on the fact that although the staff he’d spoken to were young enough to be wearing orthodontics, both were smartly uniformed, charming, professional and engaged him with polite and friendly conversation as well as serving him.
When Cat’s steak arrived she fell upon it like a woman possessed. Matt looked on nervously – would it be up to the mark? And what if it wasn’t? Fortunately, The Manor passed with flying colours. The red mist slowly receded from Cat’s eyes as the delicious, tender steak worked its magic. Perfectly char-grilled on the outside, and devoid of any fat or gristle, it was an excellent example of the grilled fillet. A modest portion of chips came alongside, and soon Cat was happily chewing with a beatific look of contentment.
Matt’s beef bourguignon proved to be equally enjoyable. A good and faithful rendition of the classic French dish, the simple stew was mostly big chunks of braising steak cooked to perfection. Occasionally what is sold as bourguignon is served with carrots or chopped onions, or even recycled roast beef – but this one avoided all those traps. Not too dry, it was served on a bed of rice to absorb the juices. A few vegetables alongside might not have gone amiss, but Matt had taken the liberty of ordering some extra chips which managed to supplement the carbohydrate element of the meal quite effectively.
Your reviewers broke with tradition and ordered desserts from the modest but tempting array on offer. Apple pie for Matt, sherry trifle for Cat. Both arrived served in traditional style, and were well-received. On reflection, Matt and Cat realised that the overall cost of their meal and drinks had been pretty good – the Appley Manor seems to keep its prices at the lower end of the market as perhaps one might expect from such a high-volume establishment – yet somehow they manage to also produce good quality food and courteous service. An unexpectedly good place to eat, which Matt and Cat are happy to recommend.