Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
Bembridge is a former fishing village with a pretty village centre and some interesting beaches. The Crab and Lobster is one of its most...

Bembridge is a former fishing village with a pretty village centre and some interesting beaches. The Crab and Lobster is one of its most popular pubs; the route to which is a journey which probably illustrates the nature of Bembridge quite well. The would-be diner, following an trail of brown signs, is directed off the bijou High Street, past some impressive Victorian houses and then suddenly into a seemingly endless vista of bungalows, where the route passes row after row of interchangeable blank-faced open-plan single storey dwellings with low-maintenance gardens. If they are are lucky enough to complete this twisty maze, visitors will find themselves going down smaller and smaller roads and tracks, hemmed in by houses, until they feel sure that they must be driving up somebody’s garden path. Finally, the road emerges unexpectedly at the coast, and the Crab and Lobster Inn. Even at moderately busy times, and especially in the summer, this convoluted route gets clagged up with traffic. Much better to park in Bembridge village and stroll along the coast if you can.

Matt and Cat, mindful of the above, took the opportunity to visit early on a weekday evening. Even then, parking was quite tight, but they soon got inside where very friendly staff greeted them and a gas fire was blazing merrily, if ineffectually, in the hearth. The inn is set out entirely for food, with no real public bar area left. The seating areas are comfortable, roomy and characterful. Furthermore, and to Matt and Cat’s profound approval, it is entirely no smoking inside! Outside is a patio area with sea views, but Matt and Cat chose a cosy corner table and studied the comprehensive menu.

“Seafood is our speciality”, the menu proudly boasted, and indeed so it seemed. Plenty of seafood of all types was on offer, and the specials board seemed almost as big as the menu, with some impressive alternatives. The prices for many items were slightly higher than many pubs on the Island, but not beyond what one might expect in a restaurant. The menu was also a little confusing, in that the ‘Lite Bites’ section was priced at a whopping £9.95 per item, whilst the ‘Traditional Pub Favourites’ weighed in at a more respectable £7-8 or so. Not tempted by the fish, Matt selected pork medallions in a creamy sauce, whilst Cat took the opportunity to try one of the good range of vegetarian dishes – a goats cheese tartlet and salad.

The food arrived quickly and was exceptionally well-presented. For Cat, two hot, cheesy goats cheese tartlets sat atop a particularly impressive pile of colourful salad. The tartlet’s filling was a tasty ratatouille-style selection of vegetables, including aubergine, courgette and celery. Although the salad was mountainous, it was also a little monotonous with an over-abundance of that stringy lettuce stuff and not enough of the leafy varieties. Surprisingly, the cucumber had perhaps been waiting around a little longer than it should have, and at that time of the day that’s not a good sign. For once Cat remembered to request no raw onion on her salad and, although there were no onion rings, there was a pile of spring onion. (Perhaps she should have been more specific about what was meant by onion?). However, the dish was served with a nice red pesto dressing and delicious fresh tomatoes.

In a similar way the pork was equally an impressive dish to see – although not a particularly large one – but to Matt’s dismay the accompanying vegetables and potatoes were not as fresh as one might have hoped.

Nevertheless, both meals were very tasty and certainly better than average. The modest size of them also allowed your reviewers to break with tradition and order a dessert. Cat had crème brule, and Matt, on a nostalgic whim, ventured the bread-and-butter pudding. Both were excellent. Matt was pleased to note that neither the pudding nor the custard bore the tell-tales marks of microwaving, being hot but not burnt, and freshly heaped into the dish rather than welded to it.

A very-well known location, and hugely popular, it is hardly any wonder that the prices are on the slightly high side. Given the quality of the menu, excellent service and the delightful venue it’s hard to say that this is overpriced; although perhaps a keener eye in the kitchen to deliver every detail of these delightful meals would really top this place off.
The Crab and Lobster Inn, Bembridge

  • Derek atkins says:

    We had lunch here yesterday and my mussels were the best I’ve had for ages. Not cheap but well worth the money.

  • Beccy and joe says:

    The crab and lobster was amazing. The food was brilliant, the staff were all friendly , the view was good, the room was really nice and clean and all in all was very good we will deffinatley come back and we reccomend it to every one.

  • Jo says:

    Came for lunch on a Sunday which was the first visit for a long while as had heard bad reports… I had a starter of Crab Cakes – had one crab cake which was pleasant but not a lot of taste of crab, some not crisp chips and a minuscule garnish of tired salad. Very nice cup of coffee. My daughter had a full sized fish and chips and her boyfriend had ham, egg and chips which they quite enjoyed but ‘nothing to write home about’. The staff were friendly and efficient. I will go there again, but the food isn’t as good as ‘The White Horse’ in Whitwell, but of course that is the other side of the Island. A pleasant pub with lovely location and food average would be my summary.

  • mike says:

    How on earth does this place keep on winning awards, love the location but never ever had a good meal here in several attempts

  • Gigi says:

    Eating out is a luxury and our first visit to C&L was well worth the visit but like the other people who have commented here I would not return; however, have you tried the little cafe near the Lifeboat in Bembridge? It has a stunning location with very friendly staff and some gorgeous crab and lobster dishes. Slightly hidden along the seawall east of the Lifeboat pier it’s called Lifeboat View Cafe and I’ve heard that it will soon be offering an evening menu too. Well worth a visit.

  • Rainbow says:

    I previously commented that this place was great, but that was a few years ago. My aunt, uncle and cousins went last summer and were so appalled by the food they got a refund and went for fish and chips in Sandown instead. I just checked the comments section again as I was hoping it would have improved. A great shame that it hasn’t. It was a lovely pub in a fantastic location.

  • C & R says:

    Braved it and ate here last night. It was very empty but then it was early on a Monday evening. Wasn’t actually as bad as we remembered or anticipated. The prawn cocktail starters were tasty and fresh. The mains, one fillet steak and one lasagne were possibly a little greasy but enjoyable. The staff were friendly and chatty. We will return, if not as often as before.

  • C & R says:

    Oh dear. Same here, this was our favourite place to eat but gradually seems to have gone downhill. On our last visit we waited, with a by now tired toddler, for an hour and a quarter for our meal! What a shame.

  • SeaviewOAP says:

    Popped into the Crab & Lobster on the off chance of some decent pub grub. How wrong did we get it, not one other person dined in the place, and we can understand why! Absolutely disgusting food… plain, bland, tasteless need I go on. Rude condersending Manageress and rude staff, no more shall we visit here it used to be our favourite place to go for a treat! Avoid!

  • Neil (Local) says:

    I seed the dog ‘problem’ still exists nearly 18 months after my last visit. Was toying with the idea of a return visit soon but having read all the recent comments, I don’t think I will bother!

  • nicky says:

    I hate to say it, but agree with above couple of comments.
    When we have visitors, the request “are we going to the C & L this trip” usually crops up.
    Luckily we have wised up and gone elsewhere, to much nicer and better places.
    When we last went, there was a couple accompanied by their dogs seating on the seats. Whilst diners nearby were eating, the dogs were being groomed on the seats at the same time. The owners were oblivious to various comments flying. When we pointed this situation out to one of the waitresses, she didn’t seem bothered. We were, and after leaving a comment with someone who looked like management, we departed as quickly as we could. Oh and the food wasn’t up to much anyway. We won’t be back.

  • Norfolk Nick says:

    Glor & Mark, I agree with your comments (see mine above) – This place is very disappointing.

    Don’t think Matt & Cat need to spend any of their hard earned cash at place just so that they can now agree with the rest of us!

  • Glor and Mark says:

    Have been to Crab and Lobster quite a few times in the past 6/7 years, each time nothing special food was mediocre. My Husband and I had a few days off before we went away to the mainland in mid September so decided to give the Crab and Lobster another go for Lunch. Surprisingly the place was quite busy for a Wednesday Lunchtime so I had the Steak and hubby had beer battered cod and chips, it came very quick my steak was horrible Chewy,cold and tough the cod was definately not cod and batter was burnt, thick and there was hardly any fish inside it, if you shook it – it would rattle!! and we thought the cod was actually pollock YUK, as usual its overpriced and again we’ve been ripped off, no one came and asked if our meals were ok, so we left. Matt and Catt please try again I dont think this place justifies a “good”.

  • Karen says:

    vile – really really vile. And expensive. Don’t ever go there.

    Moules marinieres sent back – cream sauce was split and was basically butter and lumps.

    red grouper in pesto sauce had been sitting under a hot light for way too long and was dried out.

    Looking at other meals that came out – how on earth do they manage to produce such pale, grey, bland looking plates of food? Is everything boiled?

    I’m astonished that this pub routinely does 300+ covers on a busy August night – guess there’s no incentive to serve anything better.

  • Tanned says:

    Recommended during an IoW holiday. Not terribly exciting food, barely hot and bland. Expensive. Sat outside as it was a glorious day, had a nice view of the goings on in the v busy car park.

    Won’t be navigating the residential streets of Bembridge agin.

  • Matt and his Bird says:

    Many good experiences in bygone years. But visited around Festival time and was hugely dismayed.

    Scampi and Chips – not an easy one to destroy, but sadly very bad. Deep fried to death and dripping with oil. No dressing / garnish / salad. Garlic bread harder than the table. the Bird had a steak – rubbery and a fairly tasteless watery sauce.

    The chef kept popping out to the garden and on more than one occasion we tried to grab his attention. Sadly he was way to keen on talking to his friends / family, whose meal looked significantly better than anyone else’s.

    That sad meal cost a staggering fifty quid. The following day I had scampi with chips and a huge salad from a van at the festival for 6.50 and it was way, way better.

    I shall never visit again. And I strongly recommend anyone in search of good food avoids it like the plague.

  • Looby says:

    Went on Friday evening, must be honest we were running out of options as the football seemed to be on everywhere. Ended up at the Crab and Lobster bit concerned as I knew it had gone down hill however credit where credit is due the staff were pleasant, wine lovely and food very nice.

  • reavill says:

    hi ya crab & lobster on a downward trend went there june 2010 (against our friends advice) service & menu poor this pub is surviving on past reputation

  • I have fond memories of the Crab and Lobster going back three decades. Sadly the new owners have not lived up to this, and the food now is very very poor. When I visited last month I was unable to eat any of the pasta main course and all the waitress could say is ‘thats sad’ – Sad that I will not eat there again.

  • Cpt. Carling says:

    Never Ever, Ever, Ever Again.

    I would rather starve.

  • Sarah says:

    visited October 2009. Poor overpriced food. Not recommended

  • Skipper FW says:

    Prices up quality down since visiting 2 years ago. Pity, but hey-ho there are many more restuarants on the Isle.

  • Pat says:

    My husband and I, just enjoy eating at the Crab and Lobster at Bembridge until August 2009.
    I had a fish dish, looked OK, but the fish was not cooked, and the chips was just like value ones you buy at Tesco.
    So we I sent it back.

    Few minutes later, my meal came out and was no different. While I was waiting, my husband went to a smokers part away from the pub, and some of the kitchen porters was having a break.
    He told them, and they all said, there is a new chef. The food is all pre cooked, the owners are not very worried, even though we have meals being sent back every day.

    One of the porters said, I clean the kitchen before I leave.
    I work 3 days and split up. When I return, the kitchen is worse, nothing has been kept clean, there is rat droppings, the E M H would have a field day.

    My husband came back, and said, we are going home, he said to the waitress, i want to see the owner.
    When he came out, all he said, have this on me, and went back in.

    Never, never again shall we wait are money there

  • Nearly islander says:

    Amused by the the Two Veggies comment on a pub called the “Crab and Lobster”, surely it is implied you’re not going to get much choice 🙂

    Anyhoo, I have been to the C&L plenty of times as a part-time islander, the beer and welcome are pleasant and normally I have enjoyed the food, but yesterday I have a ploughmans and my daughter had another lite bite and was very surprised by the poor quality and the brown salad.

    I shall still enjoy the beer at the end of a dog walk, but think I’ll go to the Pilot Boat for food until standards improve.


  • Rosie Smith says:

    I ate at The Crab and Lobster many a time and the food and service was great.Shortly after new management took over i found the place started to go down hill.

    I later found out that the head chef had left and that’s when the standard really did slip. I tried to go back on several occasions, but with cold food and cold service, i do not recommend this pub to anyone.

  • KJ says:

    Not sure how they have managed to be named the County top Dining pub of the year…2 years ago maybe. We had a long string of glowing reports and ate there a lot ourselves. By comparison this year we would not set foot in there and all we get are complaints so have stopped recommending it.

  • Norfolk Nick says:

    Due to the location, we have eaten here on a few occasions over the years, hoping each time that things will improve………… but sadly they never have.

    Chewy steaks, undercooked chips, soggy rice, & overcooked crumbly fish are just a few of delicacies we have endured.

    Will give this place a miss until the reviews are more consistently positive.

  • mike says:

    Went to lunch at the crab and lobster i have never felt the urge to make a comment on any of our meals out before today.As the owner of an iow eatery some comments can be unhelpfull but my lasange was the worst example of italian classic.You could not find any pasta,it was just sauce and a crust of thick mozzerella .For £9.95 it was a pathetic excusse for a meal.They had two chances to get it right and failed both times.never again!!!!!!!!!!

  • Aneke says:

    MMM what can I say.. Crab & lobster has certainly gone down hill in my estimation. In Feb we enjoyed a lovely meal, real fresh lobster, Fresh hand cut chips, with salad. our visit this week was More expensive by a whopping £4.50 for the same dish Bought in teeny tiny fries, litle salad garnish.. what has gone wrong? we asked if they were busy ? they replied no today is very quiet. Is it really any wonder.
    I don’t get it, Why put your prices up & serve a poorer standard of food?
    We won’t be going back.

  • Owen says:

    We also had a bad experience in June this year.Very poor service left us with two meals parts of which had been reheated and probably the worst fish I have ever eaten.

    When the waitress asked the obligatory,”Was everything was OK” I suggested that the meal was substandard and if the pub wanted to keep its reputation to sack the chef.A bit harsh maybe but she did seem to offer some agreement with the sentiment though we never saw or heard from the management.

    The result is we do not recommend this to any of our friends who visit.

  • Neil (local) says:

    Jef, on the occasion I was referring to we was already eating when the dogs came in so we had no prior warning so thus had little choice. I satnd by my earlier comment; The pub itself is great with great food but dogs (especially wet ones) should not be allowed in an area where people are eating meals. I am not being ‘anti-dog’ here, and I am not saying they should be banned from this or any pub. Would you like your food to be sprayed by a wet dog shaking itself Jef?

  • Jef says:

    Neil, Those of us that enjoy our dogs have already been barred from most beaches on the Island and a majority of the food pubs. There are a number of pubs on the Island that do not allow dogs, may I suggest you try one of them.

  • Neil (local) says:

    Visited a few times and the food is always great. My only problem is if you end up eating in the pub part then more often than not, you have to put up with other customer’s dogs which, in some cases are soaking wet after being on the beach. Sorry, dogs should not be allowed around people who are eating… especially if they are wet.

  • John & Kathy says:

    We visited the Crab & Lobster twice in January 2009. Sunday lunch was excellent and on our second visit John had steak which was cooked perfectly to his liking, I had seafood pasta (loads of seafood) – both meals excellent. The staff are friendly and efficient. Definitely worth a visit.

  • kj says:

    as long as a taxi doesn’t run you down on the way 🙂

  • bushy says:

    Yes – It changed hands around Easter, and they did put the prices up (but, to be fair, so have many other places, bearing in mind the increased cost of raw materials these days).

    My take on it is that it’s a very good pub to have as a local – good beer and wine, super terrace and view, quiz nights etc. and always a friendly welcome. And they do turn over an incredible number of meals which, inevitably, means that standards aren’t always maintained at busy periods.

    As a result, if we do eat there we tend to go at quieter times and we also stick to the ‘light bites’ section which is generally fine.

    And – living within walking distance – we don’t have to endure the nightmare of finding a parking space!

  • kj says:

    I wonder if it has been was for sale for a while

  • Penny S says:

    Having eaten with friends and enjoyed many a fantastic meal at the Crab & Lobster over the years, I have recently had 2 very disappointing visits this summer. The hot seafood platter at a whopping £48 consisted of reheated seafood which was not only burned but also tough and rubbery. Our most recent meal included past it’s sell by date skate (a fact admitted by the management and not really apologised for) and very bland and stodgy crab cakes served with an old and boring salad. The poor quality of the meals made me feel like I was eating in a fast food chain, and the lack of care and concern by the management left me feeling cross and unwilling to give this place any more chances. Please review this establishment yourself – I would be interested to read your comments. Plus, the prices seemed to have soared without justification.

  • Rainbow says:

    I went to the Crab and Lobster in June 2008 with some friends. We sat outside and the sea view was wonderful. Everyone loved their meals and the service was prompt. I had the home-made crab cakes which were absolutely delicious and came with a nice salad and good quality chunky chips. A filling meal (friends had to finish it off!) for only £9.95. Others had the seafood mixed grill, lobster salad and goats cheese tart. The rest of the menu and specials board looked good too and the prices were fairly reasonable. Another good point was the clean and airy toilets- often a sign of a quality establishment!

  • Two Veggies says:

    We always seem to get lost trying to find this pub but were impressed with the newish refurb.
    Disappointingly there were only two veggies options on the menu and nout on the specials board. Penne pasta and tomato sauce or taglitelli and cream sauce with wild mushrooms. To make the meal a little more exciting I asked for parmesan shavings….the meal arrived and we got grated parmasen and even worse it was grilled, a far cry from the dining pub of the year award..not even a sprinkling of colour with parsely. The whole dish tasted as sloppy and soggy as it looked. Defeintely a vegetarian no go

  • dave says:

    We used to go to the Crab and Lobster every Sunday without fail. We would take our Golden Retriever for a walk along the beach and then climb up the steps to our preferred table just to the right of the terrace tables. Dog lying at our feet, we would enjoy a crab salad or Sunday roast dinner while gazing across the Solent. Just magic.

    Then something happened. The Crab and Lobster shut down for refurbishment and enlargement. Many miserable weeks trying to find a replacement venue and being served microwaved frozen roast potatos or boil in a bag mush passed slowly. Chips and peas with everything even the reheated lasagne. Beef so old and tough you could use the slices as frisbees. Even the dog was getting depressed.

    When the Crab and Lobster reopened, it looked wonderful and the windows and roof didn’t leak anymore. It took us about three trips to realise that the food had gone downhill. At first, we just thought that we had caught the kitchen on a bad day. Where before, the specials board had new and different dishes every day, now the specials were always the same which sort of takes the special out of the “specials”. It felt like they had fired their wonderful and inovative old chef and hired one of the ones who churn out the same old rubbish day in and day out because it’s more profitable than creating meals from fresh ingredients. Our last meal, the Sunday Roast Beef, featured the dreaded frozen roast potatos, frozen Yorkshire puddings and tough as old boots roast beef.

    We have been back. We take the dog down the steps to the beach and walk along the sands and then climb back up and have a pint at our favourite table with dog at our feet. And then we get in the car and drive to St Helens to sample some real food.

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