Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
Cowes, which endures all year around despite the oft-repeated myth that the place shuts down in winter, has the benefit of no less than...

Cowes, which endures all year around despite the oft-repeated myth that the place shuts down in winter, has the benefit of no less than three good-quality curry restaurants. The final member of this triumvirate to fall under the scrutiny of Matt and Cat is the Cowes Tandoori.

The Cowes Tandoori is set out in the rather predictable smart refurbished style which so many tandoori restaurants now sport. Laminate floor, recessed purple lighting on white ceilings, plenty of chrome and Ikea chic.

Entering the restaurant on a drizzly winter’s night, Matt and Cat were greeted by the (initially) attentive waiter and shown to a table in the window. They soon settled down with a couple of drinks and the menu. The smart restaurant was complemented by immaculate new menus, dazzlingly laundered table cloths and stylish cutlery, not to mention a swish website (probably the best website for a tandoori that Matt and Cat have ever seen [but as of 2010 expired and no longer online 🙁 ]). However, this fine attention to detail was slightly marred by more than one amendment to the menu in biro. Nonetheless, the scribbling did not detract from Matt and Cat’s ogling of the bill of fare, which included clearly-labelled vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections, plenty of seafood dishes and a good selection of ‘sundries’.

Cat chose chicken passanda, and Matt ventured into the unknown with nizami chicken. They also splashed out on a cauliflower bhajee and some papadoms. Helpfully, the menu explained what some of the more unusual featured dishes were: nizami chicken is “Chicken tikka cooked with fresh ginger, garlic, green chillies, mustard seed and yoghurt“. This can be quoted, you see, because Cowes Tandoori publishes its entire menu on their website. Not bad, eh, and particularly useful for forgetful reviewers M and C.

The food was delivered promptly, and looked good. In Matt’s opinion, the portions were not vast, especially the cauliflower bhajee which only just managed to cover the bottom of its modest dish. Cat was very pleased with her passanda, both the quantity and the quality satisfied her moderate appetite. The tandoori chicken chunks were possibly the biggest of any Tandoori restaurant reviewed on this website; the sauce was thick and tasty (but mild) and topped with a generous sprinkling of sliced almonds.

Matt was a little more dubious about his chicken nazami; despite the exciting description, and the even more exciting price tag of £10.95, the dish, though very enjoyable, was nothing exceptional. The fresh green chillies were excellent, the mustard seed certainly gave it an interesting texture, but overall the flavour was not dissimilar to a good balti. The cauliflower bhajee, by contrast, although scant, was really delicious.

Matt and Cat forewent pudding despite the sweet menu being illustrated by some good-looking (if pre-frozen) offerings including lemon sorbet served in an actual lemon! As is now customary in almost every establishment the bill took an age to arrive. When it did, it became clear that the good quality food at the Cowes Tandoori did come at a price. Although not outrageous, the prices here are higher than at some other restaurants Matt and Cat have visited. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable evening, and Matt and Cat went back out into the cold evening feeling well-fed and content.

  • Maddy James says:

    My Husband and I have had several meals here and have always had great service. The food was delicious and plentiful. This was the first place I ever had an Indian back in the 80s and therefore holds a special place in my heart. Such happy times……..

  • Jane says:

    Very good food. Highly Recommended!!

  • Laura Earl says:

    Went there last Saturday and the food was amazing! Accompanied by the very polite waiters. The portions were also very good. Well done, great food x

  • Paul Stevens says:

    I visited the restaurant last week with my family, 1st week of April. The restaurant was very inviting, staff were very polite. The restaurant was quite full, The menu was very smart and easy to follow, and food was served at an adequate time. We enjoyed our meal and left with a nice feeling of the place. I know there are other comments on the site, all I can say is that I had a completely different experience and would just say that not everyday is the same.

  • Where can I start? Being in the catering trade, I am probably a little kinder to some establishments that I should be and I can usually find some redeeming features somewhere. However, my visit to this restaurant on Saturday last has got me stumped for even a whisper of kindness. We were accommodated at a table in this soul-less restaurant next to two men who seemed hell bent on denigrating the female population with a lip smacker/tooth sucker at the next. The service was abominable and, at times, churlish. We certainly didn’t feel like valued guests/customers – a pre-requisite, surely, in the catering/hospitality trade? Once our meals (adequate)… were served, we were ignored until we managed to summon a waiter to ask for a coffee and the bill. My daughter likened it to sitting on the tube – you didn’t know where to put your eyes. Horrible, Horrid. I did mention my concerns at the end of the meal – quietly – and asked to see the Manager – he was apparently ‘not there’ – neither will I be, ever, ever again!

  • Mrs Irene Felix says:

    My husband and I visited this restaurant a couple of days ago during a visit to Cowes and were most disappointed not only with the food but also with the service and the non-existent welcome. My husband who is black carribean was almost stopped from entering by one of the waiters until they spotted me behind him, I am German and caucasian and I got the impression that this softened the blow for them and they offered us a table upstairs where there were no customers seated at all. I objected and said we would sit downstairs and the waiter, a different one this time, then offered us a table downstairs. The service was appalling, cutlery was just pushed aside to make room for the plates in a careless fashion, and the bottle of wine was just plonked on the table rather then poured into glasses,and the food itself was absolutely tasteless, and the portion of rice tiny. Having lived in London for over 30 years, and having been to many curry houses and all types of different restaurants who 95% of the time serve extremely scrumptious food and are well versed in dealing with customers and keeping them happy, I would be able to say with conviction that this is one of the worst places to eat and spend an evening that I can think of.

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