Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
It seemed like a crazy mission – to go to Cowes in the middle of August, and try to get a decent meal at...

It seemed like a crazy mission – to go to Cowes in the middle of August, and try to get a decent meal at a humane price. Everybody knows that you don’t go to Cowes in August, because there be yachties there, arrr! The little boutiques crank open their rusted shutters for another six week season of trading, polishing their stripped-pine floors and artfully arranging the few, impossibly overpriced items in their oh-so-tasteful windows. The streets are crowded with throngs of frolicking mainlanders wearing curious clothes, and prices for the simplest commodities escalate into the stratosphere. Or so was once believed – could such deep-seated prejudices be dislodged?

The Bahar Tandoori Halal Restaurant, Cowes

Many times friends have urged Matt and Cat to try out the Bahar in Cowes – a very well-known and long established tandoori on the High Street. Yet somehow they have left it until now to do so. How they could have resisted the twinkling lights of the charming venue is hard to imagine, especially given the number of photographs of Richard Branson in it. For be in no doubt, this restaurant is a shrine to Sir Richard, with no fewer than six massive images filling the walls and windows, depicting the famous day when he shook hands with the beaming proprietor and met his delighted family. It was at least ten years ago, judging by the clothes – generations of diners must have enjoyed their curries with the chirpy face of Sir Richard offering benedictions from the wall.

But was the ballooning knight right? Did he just pop in for a quick ruby and get caught by a keen photographer? Or was he exhibiting that curious instinct for a good thing that seems to have propelled him through his career so far? Matt and Cat were welcomed to the intimate interior of the Bahar by smiling staff. They were swiftly seated at a spacious table, and noted with approval the carpeted floors, traditional décor – and, of course, the pictures of Sir Richard. The restaurant has two rooms, and so gives the impression of being quite tiny. Out of the front window is a remarkably good view down the public slipway, allowing diners to watch the passing boats and ferries as well as hapless sailors flapping about in the channel.

View from the Bahar
The view from the restaurant

The menu is simple, with a modest range of standard items supplemented by a few unusual dishes with a Bangladeshi influence. Cat went for the former, with a chicken tikka balti, and Matt struck out with Sylet lamb.

The food arrived promptly and proved to be quite excellent – amongst the best eastern fare to be had on the Island. The Sylet lamb was remarkable, with chunks of lemon cooked in the sauce giving it an unusual and very enjoyable piquancy. The balti was equally pleasant, with the rich sauce and delicate chunks of chicken proving to be to Cat’s entire satisfaction. Unlike the canny locals who were obviously prepared, Matt and Cat had not brought a bottle of wine with them (or even, like one typical Cowes family who were observed, two pre-chilled bottles of Bollinger). For the Bahar adds to its charm by not possessing a drinks licence. With no corkage charge they encourage diners to bring their own alcohol, and elegantly serve it for you. This all keeps the bill down, of course. Matt and Cat are pleased to report that Sir Richard had it right all along. Despite their worst fears, the prices in the Bahar were well within the reasonable bracket, which, particularly for Cowes in August, means that the place is most strongly recommended.

  • Sean says:

    Had another great meal (3rd since Dec13).

    The food seems to get better and better and the place has some character and characters & flock wallpaper!!

    Bringing your own drinks reduces the price so much…this time touch under £60 for 4 including a huge pile of poppodums & dips to start! Plus 4 mains, many side dishes.

    Keep up the good work fellas it was packed again so you must be doing something right.

  • PAUL MULLERY says:

    As I don’t live in Cowes, I have not been in this one. Increasing prices during Cowes week is somewhat short-sighted as presumably they rely on locals during the winter months. If their winter regulars wish to show their displeasure they could boycott the place for eat in meals and takeaways between September and May. Nine months of no cashflow might work wonders for their attitude and pricing policies.

  • kj says:

    Not the only resteraunt in Cowes to up its prices as much as £20… These premises should be ashamed of themselves..they will never have my custom at any time of year

  • Trevor says:

    BEWARE: Check your prices very carefully, and check what you are paying for. We were charged over £25.00 for popadoms that we thought were complimentary. We also paid over three times the amount for some item’s to be told ‘it is our special week, its Cowes Week’.

    When we questioned the staff about this, they were VERY rude and abusive.

    We will not be visiting again!!

  • Nick says:

    I love going to the Bahar,the staff are always welcoming and very attentive. Love the fact that we can bring our own drink, for the price of a glass of wine in a restaurant I can get a bottle! Never been disapointed with the food, just as good as Saffrons but much more affordable. Happy days!

  • alex says:

    i would recommend anyone to go to Bahar Tandoori Restaurant. The staff are welcoming and the food is wonderful.

  • da yw wyth says:

    Well, on my visit the staff were welcoming to the point of virtually dragging me in off the street as I was hovering outside! The actual meal was quite middle of the road, as far as I was concerned, no more no less.

  • kaz says:

    In refute to the above comments i must say that this resturant is absolutely amazing..the staff are very welcoming and the food is delicious..i think its the best resturant on the island serving the best indian food..i would advise everyone to go there.

  • Kumara says:

    Oh my GOD, this is the worst restaurant in uk, staff are so rude and this is absolute NOT an Indian restaurant.
    Worst restaurant in my holiday!!!!!!!
    Spoile my holidays!!!!

  • Eb says:

    Returned recently having eaten here 2 years ago – remembering that hadn’t been a great experience we thought we’d give it a go – the food was quite nice but the welcome was poor – staff really unfriendly and we struggled to get a smile from them – however when regular customers arrived the staff were much more jolly which made us feel all the more uncomfortable – we won’t be returning

  • mike davis says:

    just had probably the worst tikka masala EVER from Bahar in Cowes. It was a take away though so maybe the restaurant food is better… couldnt be any worse !

  • PAUL MULLERY says:

    Went to the Roadside Inn. With respect to future eating experiences when food is eventually served I will leave that to Matt and Cat. I already have thoughts on the ambience of the pub as an eating venue but am reserving comment for Matt and Cat’s verdict. I suggest they try it in about three or four month’s time.

  • Alex says:

    I had a meal in here recently. We waited one and a half hours for our food to be served cold (and initially the wrong food was served). When I complained I suddenly had four members of staff surrounding my table and not listening to my complaints, instead they just blamed me for coming in too late and when they were busy. The bahar has always been a great restaurant in the past but there is a reason that people in Cowes are now avoiding it, as it has gone down hill considerably recently. The bahar has recently added many new tables and simply cannot cater to so many people and maintain a high standard. I had a terrific meal in Cowes tandoori recently and I will be going there in the future, I will never visit the bahar again after the experience I have just had there. AVOID!!!

  • Matt D says:

    BE AWARE!! Check the menu prices carefully. They inflate there prices by 50% when racing is on.
    I took my Wife and two small small children (5 and 2 years) It was 6pm and the Bahar was empty.
    We would normally pay £30.00 – £40.00 for the same food with several acholic drinks at our local curry house which is excellent, it cost us a whopping £64.00 at the Bahar for fairly avarage food and one diet coke.
    We won’t be back.

  • aafsa says:


  • emma says:

    I had visited the isle of wight with my family recently for easter. Me, my brother and my father went for a meal at the Bahar tandoori. I must say it was the highlight of my holiday on the Island. The food was superb and the staff were very welcoming. I would recommend this to anyone who would like to experience the sensation of indian cuisine.

  • MiFi says:

    16 years ago? i was there the day richard branson came to eat at the bahars which was actually 12years ago. its not about how long ago it was, its about the importance of the visit. i think its very nice of them to leave the pics up there. i think its one of the best places to eat on the island.

  • jade says:

    what do you mean man bahar tandoori is exellent man its better than saffron or cowes tandoori

  • We love the Bahar … and hope they never, ever take the Branson pics down – surely legendary landmark by now!

  • Taddy says:

    They really milk the Branson thing, for your information he visited 16 years ago! But its a nice little indian and worth visiting.

  • James P says:

    “the staff was unbelivably rude and abusive to me”

    Makes one wonder what skl said to them, given his obvious prejudice!

    I have had several excellent meals at the Bahar, and have always enjoyed the atmosphere there. Being able to take your own refreshment is always a bonus in my book, too.

  • kj says:

    Also Kashmir, which in between India and Pakistan and home of very many great’indian’ dishes (and cooks)

  • DRFox says:

    Whatever your experience of the restaurant you obviously are not well informed. The majority of Indian Restaurants in the UK are Bangladeshi (in fact in the south east of England its about 80% of Restaurants). This is not actually weid since Banglashdesh, Pakistan and India are part of the Indian Subcotinent and were all part of British India (you could also include Ceylon) Bengal, a region that influences many dishes is a region split between India and Bangladesh.

  • skl says:

    i had the misfortune of visiting this restaurant recently. firstly it is not indian and is run by bangladeshi. u cannot order other things if u do not order main dish. and the staff was unbelivably rude and abusive to me. so my advice to anyone indian is not to go there

  • Kim says:

    loved the friendly service at this curry house. Curry very good and took our beers so made it a cheaper night out
    Thaks for the recommendation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.