It all started with tomatoes, or the lack of. Cat’s tomatoes were in Matthew’s fridge for reasons too tedious to explain here. This meant that her planned packed lunch of torn mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and freshly ripped basil leaves from the plant on her kitchen window sill, all drizzled with extra virgin olive oil had to be abandoned. Which could only mean one thing – eating out for lunch!
You may think that, having eaten at so many establishments, Matt and Cat would by now be running short of places to have lunch in Newport: and you may nearly be right. But a few still remain, so foregoing Pizza Hut and deciding not to pay the Top of the Town a second visit, they stumbled into the gloom of “Newport’s oldest pub”, the Castle Inn.
This historic building apparently dates back to to the 14th century and its interior is delightfully in keeping with the stone and leaded lights of its façade. Matt and Cat entered from a surprisingly sunny November day, and found the pub was dark and intimate; made even more so by the dark wooden panelled walls and low ceiling. Refreshingly, unlike many other olde worlde pubs, the Castle Inn allows its historic structure to speak for itself, and does not subscribe to the horse brass and nautical ephemera style of decoration.
The bar staff were very welcoming and Matt was soon in possession of a pint of bitter shandy and Cat a glass of tap water and lime. Settling on a table in the quiet bar they perused the surprisingly full and appealing menu. With only time for a quick bite they had to pass on the tempting-looking main meals such as lamb brochettes with minted yoghurt dressing, or spaghetti with tiger prawns in a tomato, chilli and basil garlic sauce. Matt ordered a roast beef baguette, and Cat took mushrooms stuffed with melted Stilton and red pepper, from the starter menu. Both were very reasonably priced, and soon your reviewers were tucking in.
The baguette was well-stuffed with very tasty meat – obviously carved off the joint and not of the prepacked variety, as it was quite dry and crumbly. Some horseradish, mustard or other lubricant might have improved it even further but Matt was very happy with it anyway.
Cat’s mushrooms turned out to be a singular dish – with one mushroom, albeit a large one. It was tasty, and accompanied by enough fresh salad to count for more than a garnish, and a mountain of fresh crusty bread.
With its very friendly staff, comprehensive menu and authentic flagstone floor, the Castle Inn offers a great alternative lunchtime venue to the supermarkets, pub chains and sandwich bars of the town. Both Matt and Cat enjoyed their lunch and passed back out into the High Street refreshed and replete. They’re definitely thinking of coming back for an evening meal some time – those specials look very tasty, and great value.
Castle Inn, Newport