Charter Lounge is the latest in a series of businesses that have launched in the ground floor of Charter House, Newport – in what is, on the face of it, a candidate for the most desirable non-seaside restaurant location on the Isle of Wight. We visited during the venue’s first week; lured by promises of “one of the sexiest places to hang out” and “global street food with impeccable service”.
Certainly it seemed the fanfare of publicity had been effective – the lounge was well-populated with curious diners and drinkers on the same mission as us. The building is historic, and nicely set out, with comfy seating alongside a huge mirror on the wall; and distressed brickwork with exposed trunking that all appeared to be authentic heritage styling and not just faux hipster chic.
The menu, on the ubiquitous clipboard, was on the table, and we ordered at the bar. There is a breakfast menu, but we’d come for dinner. Our choices were from a series of ‘boxes’, all of which looked quite tempting. The international theme was apparent, with Thai, Indian, Mexican and Asian fusion options on offer. And a chicken burger, for the patriots amongst you. ‘Proper loaded fries’ were, essentially, versions of the main dish choices, on fries. Not a bad idea – even if several of the main dishes came with fries anyway. Is there such a thing as too many fries? It’s an experiment we have been conducting for many years, without reaching a conclusion. Maybe Charter Lounge would provide the definitive answer.
The menu said the food would be in a box. It was not in a box. Perhaps it would have been if we had ordered takeaway. Luckily we didn’t, as it took over forty minutes for the food to arrive, but when it did it looked great. It came on little wooden boards, which were just as good as boxes, and probably more sustainable.
Bao box (regular) £7.95
Thali box (large) £9.95
Tandoori chicken fries £6.95
Garlic chilli pork in bao buns was accompanied by fries, and hoisin sauce for dipping. The garlic chilli flavour was subtle, and the pork was served at room temperature, but nonetheless it was a satisfying dish. The Thali box was a generous selection of Indian-style finger food, alongside more fries, and a curious little pot of chopped tinned tomatoes. The thali was hot and tasty, and a well-considered selection of bits to nibble on. We shared a bowl of tandoori chicken shashlik ‘proper loaded fries’. This was probably the best thing in the meal; a hot, fresh pile of those fries topped with slices of tandoori chicken, moist fried onion and roasted red pepper, all slathered with mint yoghurt sauce. It was an unusual and enjoyable way to eat fries – we almost finished the lot.
Charter Lounge fed us well, and certainly delivered on the promises of global street food and good service. It is an attractive venue, easy to access in a very central location, and outstanding value for money. The food was not bad, with some imaginative touches. If you want the ultimate in international fusion food you know where to go (a hint – it’s smoking), but you’ll pay about three times as much and struggle to get a table. Meanwhile this new venture at Charter Lounge has made a good start – we would be happy to suggest you give it a try.
This is the full-length version of the review first published in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Great value
- Convenient location
- Friendly staff
- Slow service