Eating out in Cowes Week is cheaper in 2012 than it was in 2011 – that’s the unexpected conclusion of the annual price survey that Matt and Cat undertook.
Despite popular wisdom suggesting that food prices in the famous sailing town only ever go up, when Matt and Cat visited Cowes to check on prices of some of the more popular foods – including a portion of chips, an all-day breakfast and a burger – the opposite seemed to be true.
Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week asked Matt and Cat to survey a selection of Cowes high street prices in 2011 just before the start of regatta week, and they repeated the survey this year. Although some prices had indeed gone up, most had stayed the same and many had even dropped. In particular they found that, on average, food prices had gone down.
The survey compared advertised prices for common items at a range of venues in Cowes and Gurnard. A portion of chips at the Anchor has gone up 25p since 2011 to £3 – making it jointly the most expensive portion of chips surveyed in Cowes this year, alongside the Coast Bar. Yet the average price for chips across the town has dropped 7p since 2011. The humble burger has shown the most surprising price change, with the average Cowes burger costing 42p less than last year at only £6.59, and price reductions seen at Lugley’s, the Fountain and the Duke of York. The cheapest burger in Cowes was found at Totties Fish and Chips, costing only £2.60. The most expensive is again at Coast costing £10.95 – although unlike Totties this includes an entire meal. A sailing crew favourite is the all-day breakfast, and this staple of Cowes dining has also gone down in price by an average of 28p, to £6.14. The cheapest breakfast surveyed was at Cowes Combined Services and Social Club and costs only £4.50. Although Matt and Cat are not sure if you can just walk in and eat it – do you have to be a member or something?
EDIT – Apologies for missing out that the Octopus Garden also offer breakfast at £4.50, so they share the glory as the joint cheapest breakfast in town.
However, tea and coffee drinkers will have to dig a little deeper this year as there have been some price increases, albeit modest ones. Retaining its crown for the most expensive coffee in Cowes is the Steam outlet in Fountain Yard which is selling coffee for £2.70. By contrast the cheapest cup can be found at Eegon’s, costing half Steam’s price, at only £1.35 – exactly the same as last year. But overall the average cost of a cup of coffee has gone up by 16p to £1.85; whereas the average cost of tea has gone up by only 9p to £1.50. The priciest tea costs £2.20 for a pot at Brawn’s.
The cost of chicken tikka masala with rice was a new item on the survey, and amazingly, all three curry houses were within 15p of each other- suggesting some very tight pricing going on. Fish and chips, by contrast, showed a wide variation, with a purse-friendly £4.80 at Daylan versus £9.95 for one of Matt’s all-time favourite pub dishes in Cowes, fish and chips from the Duke of York. This also emphasises an important thing to understand about these figures – they cannot compare like with like. A sit-down meal will be priced differently from a takeaway, and some might come with various other items included, or not. So for once, Matt and Cat are not making any claim about quality or indeed quantity. The survey simply went on the cheapest advertised price at each establishment.
There are also some deals specially for Cowes week – Murray’s and Manuel’s both have promotional Cowes Week menus which look like good value. The Food Hamper is offering its usual Bembridge crab sandwich for only £2.99, and Baan Thai has lunchtime specials for only £7.50.
Given that the cost of ingredients has gone up, these price reductions can mean really good value for those who want to eat out during Cowes Week. Sure, if you want to eat expensive food there will be plenty on offer, and some of it will be worth the money as well. Although it’s not always in the places you’d think. But this survey suggests that many of the cafés, pubs and restaurants in Cowes are quite clearly doing their bit to offer good food at affordable prices.
Do you agree with Matt and Cat’s findings? Have you discovered some decent Cowes Week offers that they have not spotted? Or do you feel you’ve been ripped off somewhere? Leave your comments below.