Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
OK, alright! You’ve spoken up and, as always, Matt and Cat have taken heed. You’ve shone the beacon into the sky and your call...

OK, alright! You’ve spoken up and, as always, Matt and Cat have taken heed.

Matt and Cat light

You’ve shone the beacon into the sky and your call has been answered… Chale Green Stores it is!

As if the price of petrol was no object, Matt and Cat made their second trip west in just a matter of days, the first having been to the new Hong Kong Express in Freshwater. It was a glorious day and the drive into the deepest countryside of the Island was a pleasure. Rural pursuits were observed; huntsmen in their ‘ratcatchers‘ trotted by, buzzards battled in the sky, and rabbits lay sleeping in the middle of the road.

Lamb pie

On arriving at Chale Green Stores, Matt and Cat wondered if the recent publicity – a full page advertorial in the previous day’s County Press – may cause the café to be oversubscribed. There was certainly a bit of a tight squeeze in the car park. However, Chale Green Stores is also a valuable and award-winning community facility; many of the visitors were doing their shopping, visiting the post office or having a chat.

This was the sort of attention to detail that they have only seldom received in far grander venues
Ciabatta with Mozzarella, pesto and chargrilled vegetables

Although Matt and Cat were there for lunch, on their stroll through the shop they were impressed with the range of goods and the cleanliness of the place. Like many rural stores across the land it had a post office counter, lottery terminal, newspapers, vital supplies and a smattering of fresh vegetables. But further into the shop, it became apparent that this was no ordinary store. A deli counter was hiding round a corner and bore spectacular-looking stuffed olives, a good range of cheese, including some Stinking Bishop spread on little crackers to sample, plus a range of cured meats.

And if you go far enough in, at the rear of the store is the café: a large square room with vast patio doors opening onto a well laid out but as yet immature garden. Small shrubs and a few straggly climbers had been planted, which in a few years will no doubt soften the landscaping. However, the view beyond the patio to the downs was pretty gorgeous, and more buzzards could be seen wheeling around the cloudless sky.

Matt and Cat’s bill
Lamb pie £7.95
Ciabatta £3.95
Elderflower juice £1.50
tea £1.50
2 Desserts £6.50
Total: £21.40

Matt and Cat took a seat at one of the wooden tables, and turning their attention to the menu, noticed that depending on what day of the week you visit, you may not get the full range. However, as they were there on a Saturday, all food was available to them, including some great-sounding specials. As far as can be remembered the specials that day featured bubble and squeak soup with crispy bacon, Thai-style squash soup, butternut pasta with tomato pesto, and rich Isle of Wight lamb pie red wine gravy and buttered carrots. Before even looking at the main menu Matthew decided to try the lamb pie.

Treacle pudding

Cat examined the deli menu. Ciabattas with various fillings included smoked salmon and cream cheese, tuna with lemon mayonnaise, bacon and Brie, and salami, olives and sun-dried tomato. It was a difficult choice, all looked tasty and good value for money. Settling on ciabatta with Mozzarella and pesto with chargrilled vegetables, Cat placed the order.

Back at the table, Matt and Cat looked at the large format photographs of Island views which were hung on the walls. There were also smaller historic photos of previous proprietors, which was nice. The lunches and drinks were delivered promptly. They were startling well-presented; certainly not what was expected from such a modest venue. Cat’s ciabatta was cut into narrow isosceles triangles and these lay next to a tasty salad of peppery rocket, chargrilled peppers and onions and a tangy balsamic dressing. A small heap of ready salted crisps completed the constellation and all was presented on a long thin plate. It was a delicious lunch; the pesto a good addition to the sweet vegetables and rubbery Mozzarella.

Matt’s lamb pie had a fantastic aroma; the red wine quite apparent. The meat, local lamb, was beautifully flaky, soft and tasty with no fat. Carrots Julienne lay alongside. The dish could have benefited from some bread or potatoes to soak up that sublime sauce but Matthew was able to mop up the scrummy juices with the kind donation of a hunk of ciabatta from The Cat. All was washed down with elderflower fizz and tea.

Because the lunches were so delicious, Matt and Cat decided to have pudding. There was a time when your reviewers were moderate about what they ate, rarely having two courses in the interests of their digestion and purses. However, increasingly they have succumbed to the temptations of the sweet course and what was an exception has turned into the rule. Their burden is a heavy one, carried in your own interests, dear reader.

Apple and blackberry crumble seemed to be the only pudding but when Cat went to order the waitress mischievously also offered sticky toffee pudding. It was then necessary to order one of each! As before, the dishes were brought to the table very promptly. M and C were agog at the presentation – the crumble was on a wooden board with an artful squiggle of vanilla-flecked custard and sprinkled icing sugar. This was the sort of attention to detail that they have only seldom received in far grander venues, and it was a real unique selling point for this village café. The crumble was pretty yummy too. Matt’s sticky toffee pudding was presented in an asymmetric bowl. It turned out in fact to be treacle sponge. But, no matter, he ate it with gusto.

You probably don’t need Matt and Cat to tell you what a gem Chale Green Stores is. The proprietors have done a great job of promoting this village facility and even this website has been awash with contributors singing the café’s praises. Matt and Cat would like to add their names to the many who think its a great place to eat.

Update, 2012
Matt and Cat revisited the Stores on a lunchtime excursion out west. Since this review was first written, the place has changed hands, the chef has changed, the menu has changed… so they were expecting to write a new review. But you know what? It’s still pretty much the same, and just as good. So although the details have changed, the essence of CGS remains just as it was before, so the existing review stands without the need for revision.
Chale Green Stores

  • da yw wyth says:

    Had a great visit here in November for coffee and cake following an afternoon walk. Sadly, looks like this will be a thing of the past as the coffee shop has joined the ranks of tea venues that close at 4.00 p.m. sharp! Such a shame – that extra half-hour could make such a difference and attract so many more people. But instead, apathy reigns…

  • Richard says:

    My wife and I took a chance a couple of weeks back and paid our first visit to the cafe at Chale Green Stores since ceasing to to go there on 14th July 2012 (see review on that date).
    We were delighted to find that the quality of food and the service was back up to that to which we had become accustomed prior to July 2012 when it all seemed to fall apart.
    We visited again today and were very pleased with the experience. The roasted stuffed peper and salad was delicious and the service by cheery staff was great.
    Well done Chale Green Stores.

  • da yw wyth says:

    From a visit this week I’d say that rumours of Chale Green Stores turning into a transport caff have been greatly exaggerated!

    Same great quality coffee and a really memorable pumpkin soup. Top notch stuff, thickened through the sheer goodness of its ingredients, not through additives. (Met Bar take note!)

    However, atmosphere seemed oddly bleak and neglected. Service with a scowl didn’t help, so different from the cheery, helpful approach in the shop itself. And, whilst the plates with cakes were diligently placed in a very precise row, oh dear – the cakes themselves were wrapped crudely in polythene – so offputting. (look no further than the Marchesa Bar or Chapel Coffee Lounge at Beavis’s to see how cakes should be displayed!)

  • Stephen says:

    Re Chale Green Stores Cafe

    Like Richard we have always enjoyed the experience at Chale Green Cafe. Like Richard we have recently (Sunday 15 July) experienced a significant fall in quality. In our case it was coffee served luke warm and tastelss by a young lady in a soiled apron. On telling her the coffee was not accceptable it was removed and a few miniutes later replaced, all without any comment at all.

    The replacement coffee was hot but once again tastless.

    We would agree with Richard about the transport cafe environment.

    Like Richard and wife we too will vote with our feet and avoid Chale Green in the future.

  • Lou says:

    Richard, I believe the previous longstanding chef moved on – perhaps this is the reason?

  • Richard says:

    My wife and I have been enjoying the food at Chale Green pretty much since it opened. Our first meal there was superb and both the food and friendly service has remained consistently good……….until today – 14th July 2012.
    What has happened?
    No more table menus – just three untidy blackboards reminiscent of a transport cafe. We were told our soft drinks were in the fridge – with the expectation that we got them out ourselves – and then we were asked if wanted them in glasses.
    My wife’s quiche looked suspiciously un-home made and the salad that accompanied it was unimaginative and nothing like the beautful and carefully prepared ones we have long been used to at Chale Green.
    I wasn’t expecting my pork and leek sausages to be accompanied by tinned baked beans (the “menu” made no mention of baked beans) – but perhaps it resonated with the blackboards to give an authentic transport cafe experience.
    Sorry Chale Green Cafe – but unless this is some temporary aberration – we won’t be returning.

  • ghostmoth says:

    Stopped by for tea and cake with a friend yesterday and although the carrot cake was good, the blackcurrant and lemon drizzle cake was one of the best I’d ever eaten. Add to that the stunning views from the garden towards Hoy’s Monument, it takes some beating.

  • Jo says:

    Had a lovely lunch here with friends today. I had mushrooms in a cream and garlic sauce served with wonderful fresh bread and a proper pot of flavourful English Breakfast tea with a matching small jug of fresh milk. The whole place is clean, comfortable and well managed. I also love browsing in the shop and usually return home with a purchase. Plenty of space in the Ladies, but maybe the mirror could be lowered a little as even though I’m average height I couldn’t see myself to brush my hair. Am looking forward to my next visit.

  • Sean says:

    What a great meal at unbelievable value we had at CGS on Saturday. From the ‘price is wight’ website we purchased a special lunch voucher for 2 for under £15, this included a shared starter then 2 mains (homemade burgers which were lovely) and 2 Desserts (huge raspberry pavalova’s) accompanied by 2 glasses of wine and 2 coffee’s. The food and staff were excellent, and probably the best bargain this year! Thanks to all at CGS and keep up the good work, we will return even without our bargain lunch voucher!

  • Mr R Hjerling says:

    Last year,2010,we found this place and were very impressed with the quality of the food and the service.It was excellent.This year we went back.What a difference a year makes.It was just past eleven am and my wife ordered tea and toast for two.The girl behind the counter said”no,breakfast ends at 11am and lunch does not start until midday”.We settled for two cups of tea.This was tea in name only.We will not be going back there again.

  • John Woodhouse says:

    we visited with friends for lunch last week. A real gem of a place. Excellent food, attentive service and no mortgage required. Plus do your weekly food shop! A return visit definitely required

  • Simon says:

    A second visit to Clare Green after a year bringing the in-laws this time. The food was as ever excellent esp the burgers but only one disappointment – the fish was off and had to be returned but they were most apologetic and gave us a replacement free mains. Despite this, will return when we are next in IOW.

  • Sharon says:

    As we were here for lunch we headed straight to the back of the building to the cafe and were greeted by a friendly member of staff who showed us to a table. The cafe is light and bright and has huge patio doors which give a lovely view over the beautiful gardens and the hills beyond. On a dry day you can sit out in the garden amongst the flowers.

    My husband and I both decided to have the Croque Monsieur. This turned out to be an excellent choice. Two very thick slices of crusty bread were filled with cheese and bacon and topped with a béchamel cheese sauce and grilled until golden and bubbling then served up with a salad of cucumber ribbons, mixed leaves, baby gherkins and dressed with a light vinaigrette. The flavour of the cheese and sauce was tangy and sharp without being too strong. The bread remained crusty and the salad was actually a salad and not just a garnish. All in all it was absolutely perfect.

    While we were eating I was looking around and noticed how clean the place was. I could even see through to the kitchen which I was pleased to see it was extremely organised and well run. Even the gardens looked like they had been manicured.

    If you live on the island or are visiting for a holiday make time to pop in for tea & cake or a light lunch. You will not be disappointed. We are really looking forward to a return visit to Chale Green Stores next time we visit.

  • Wow what a little gem! We had a superb lunch here today.
    The platter from the deli was wonderful with lots of tasty delights and the quiche which Jim had was enormous and really tasty.
    Visit the ‘Curios’ shop just down the road too, we bought a lovely old fashioned bench for our garden.

  • Phil says:

    My wife and I stopped off at the Chale green shop today and were very happy.We both had the same things a light lunch.Lovely rich pate with a small side salad with a French dressing not piled on but just right.Lovely fresh bread and butter.Food I give 10 out of 10 and the service the same.I always watch waiters or waitresses weather they are quick to clean tables after other diners leave.My pet hate is to be sitting next or near a table that has dirty and left over crocks.The waitress at Chale was superb in clearing away and in serving our meals .We recommend this very reasonable priced and very clean cafe and shop.

  • Ringo says:

    Popped in here for a late lunch after a visit to Wolverton Manor Garden Fair on Saturday and was very impressed. Unlike so many other places on the Island, they’ve kept things simple with the menu, which means that everything on it can be freshly and properly prepared to order. No pinging microwaves, no boil-in-the-bag sauces, just one chef (as far as I could see) working her socks off. I had a croque monsieur, served with a nicely dressed salad and proper bread. Lovely. My wife had the pastrami sandwich – I can’t remember the finer details but know that she pronounced it delicious. Decent coffee too.

    I urge all right-thinking people to give it a go.

  • Dawn says:

    I took my parents for a light lunch at Chale Green the other Sunday. We hadn’t visited before. A bit uncertain of where to go we entered via the shop, and were pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of products available. On reaching the rear of the shop it opened out into a modern and airy café with large patio doors opening up onto a very pretty garden, and beautiful outlook over the surrounding downs. We ordered at the counter, to a very pleasant waitress. We ordered a Croque Monsieur, house burger and smoked salmon and spring onion quiche. All were beautifully fresh and well presented with a dressed side salad. We also had a glass of their house white wine, and two island locally brewed beers. All in all we had a really lovely lunch out that was very reasonably priced. It’s good to go to a café which champions local produce and is aware of the environment – we were pleased to see that they use rain water to flush their toilets. I understand from chatting with the waitress that they have a new chef, and it seems that this along with the excellent service and setting is a winning combination.

  • GJ says:

    Went into cafe at 4.40 to be advised ‘We close at 5.00’ – which immediately made us feel unwelcome, so I responded that I was aware of their opening times, but ordered tea and cake for 2 anyway.

    I sat in garden area, having collected dog from car that was parked adjacent to the open side gate while my wife did some shopping. At 4.55 waitress walked past and locked side gate – did they expect a huge influx? (there were no other cafe customers), so at 5.00 we had to go the long way round through the shop with dog and two bags to get to the car, no big deal but an assistant in the shop looked at the dog with a ‘That shouldn’t be here expression’
    Will we go again – NO. Shame because produce in shop is good quality.

  • slj says:

    Had coffee at Chale Green this morning. Not a pleasant experience – the coffee was not worth anywhere near £1.80 per cup.

    There are many other places on the island who provide a better cup of coffee.

    A most disappointing experience.

  • Theresa Flower says:

    Visited Chale Green Stores cafe today, February 24th 2010. Having read so much publicity about it we were expecting good things. How VERY disappointed we were. We had scones and toasted teacakes and coffee. The scone was so dreadful we had to send it back which is something we have never done anywhere ever before. It was obviously extremely stale as it was dry and totally crumbled to bits. Not only was it so obviously days old but neither had the dough been cooked properly as this is another reason for a scone not holding itself together. When my husband took it back the girl was extremely offhand and couldn’t care a damn – she looked very disdainful but said we could change it for something else. She was not at all helpful – just said what do you want. No apology at all. The teacakes were not homemade – we could see the shop bought packet on the side of the counter they were in. We did not appreciate either the plastic lemon tree in the corner where we were sitting – if you cant have a real one don’t bother, its so tacky. All in all an extremely disappointing visit and will certainly not be recommending this place to anyone. Has this place changed hands I wonder.

  • Lewis says:

    I just read an double page article in today’s daily telegraph on the isle of wight, the place named as where to go for dinner was the The Hamborough but the best place to go for lunch is Chale Deli!! Well done guys.
    Just goes to show people will travel for quality!

  • David says:

    Family and i visited the cafe yesterday on your recommendation, wow! Absolutely fantastic fresh food, looks great and very reasonably priced. Will definitely return. 10/10

  • Martin says:

    Based on your review we decided to sample Chale Green Stores today as we are sans children this weekend. As we are peasants more used to feeding five on a budget the cuisine at CGS was definitely a step up from our usual fare. Apparently Ryan was away, but his dad was filling in, and I have to say there appears to be some real talent in the family! A creamy lasagne for Mrs G which didn’t disappoint, despite her own lasagne setting a rather high standard. For me it was asparagus in a pancake wrap, in a tomato sauce. Both came with a nice crispy side salad, featuring a variety of fresh salad leaves. Very tasty, well presented and with excellent service.

  • Wendy says:

    Stopped off for light lunch today with family and tried out the fresh watercress soup, served with a swirl of cream and warm ciabatta to dip in. Delicious.

  • sheldon says:

    I think you will find Ryan is almost as good looking as his brother Matt at Burrs in newport!

  • Gordon says:

    Was the meal free?

  • Ziplobb says:

    sorry one other thing

    when will you be doing dinner ???

    Matt and Cat respond: Hi Ziplobb, thanks for your comments. You might want to direct your question to Chale Green Stores.

  • Ziplobb says:

    Went here for lunch today – would like to say thank you to them all,
    frankly we were amazed – it was of superb quality & more at home in one of the Islands very, very top restaurants/hotels and we eat out reasoanbly regularly – had the Pasta filled with squash & salad and missus Zippy had the goats cheese tart. We would not normally make comments like this as we dont bother going back if we dont like a place & continue to go to the ones we do like and spend our £££ (only about 8/12 places on the IoW) but this is worthy of merit and the Island needs to be told.

  • Wendy says:

    I asked when I was there today, and the chef is the brother of Matthew Burr of Burrs Newport. Luscious cooking clearly runs in the family!

  • mac says:

    i believe its the people who own burrs who run this ive seen the two of the family cooking out there since ive been going. keep up the good work. well one another success

  • Chef says:

    How very kind of you, i am sure most will agree it is nothing like michelin star so please dont be dissapointed! And you forgot Handsome in the young ambitious part!

    Matt and Cat respond: Having recently met Ryan Burr we can confirm his status as the most handsome chef in Chale Green!

  • Having visited the Chale Green Stores & Cafe on many occasions, since it’s launch, we have found the quality & presentation of the food to be close to michelin star standard but at amazing, affordable prices (certainly worth a detour as it is a little “off the beaten track”) The young, ambitious and talented chef is local and has really set a higher standard than what is usually expected at this type of venue. Keep the new ideas coming – the Island is hungry for more of what is on offer at Chale! Very deserving of local support! As the locals here in Bermuda say “spread the love” We will be back to Chale Green soon!

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