Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
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...
Castle Inn, Newport - interior

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.

Beef baguette

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.

Stuffed mushroom and Stilton

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

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  • George

    19th November 2012 #1 Author

    Never been to the Castle but try the pies at The Sportsman’s Rest, Proper home made pies! Not cheap but worth it.

    Reply

  • da yw wyth

    17th November 2012 #2 Author

    Yes, I agree with Sean that the availability of fried potatoes (they were never called sauté in the old days when made up on Mondays from uneated roasties!) was a real plus.

    Returned for a repeat steak pie, this time with a starter, to compensate for the lack of bulk. Nice thick bread with it, and I’m sure the soup was wholesome, but unfortunately the ham and lentil was watery and somehow managed to have the flavour of Knorr Chicken Noodle! And why, why why – served in a deep vertical sided bowl which meant it stayed scaldingly hot almost throughout. This is not what I call a soup dish!

    Pie again was great, but this whole puff pastry thing is puzzling. However good it is it’s not really a pie is it, if there’s a bowl of meat in gravy with a separate flaky lid on top – a pie is an organic whole!

    The pub is great though, a proper bar with men standing by the barand chatting in a real pub sort of a way. The “oldest pub in Newport” line wafted across quite naturally as part of the conversation, hopefully with a sense of pride. Strangely as M & C say, it dates from the fourteenth century but over the fireplace is the seventeenth century date from the datestone on the front – this refers to the brick front wall only, installed after a fire.

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  • Sean

    13th November 2012 #3 Author

    What impressed me when eating at The Castle recently was the homely menu, I had a stew served with sauté potatoes, the wife liver and bacon with bubble and squeak, how refreshing to not have just chips or new potatoes on offer! Both meals were delicious and we agreed to return!

    Good quest da yw wyth – have you tried steak, or the steak and kidney pies, from Primrose Fine Foods in Holyrood St, take away I know but to die for!

    Other than that its The Taverners Steak Pie for me.

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  • da yw wyth

    11th November 2012 #4 Author

    Yes, all very good, despite the misleading sign outside saying “Food served from 12.00” – in reality there’s a gap at tea-time, and food is not available till 6.00 p.m.

    Okay, the quest for the best steak pie continues, following the disappointing nosedive in quality at the George. The pie here is really good quality. The only snags are – puff pastry not shortcurst, whose bright idea was that? – and lack of quantity. Not really filling pub grub, I’m afraid – but quite handy if you need to do exercise or something not long after. An enjoyable option, probably the best central Newport pub for food at present…

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  • Mike

    22nd December 2008 #5 Author

    I’ve always like the Castle.I have often compalined by the appaling attitude of some OIsland establishments where the customer seems to be regarded as a hinderance.Not so in the Castle. Excellent service food great.10/10

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