Update: The Crown Inn, Shorwell has attracted a vast number of comments over the years, not all of them complimentary. Matt and Cat decided...

Update: The Crown Inn, Shorwell has attracted a vast number of comments over the years, not all of them complimentary. Matt and Cat decided to pay another visit… The first review from 18 October 2007 is further down the page.

Pan-seared pigeon breast

It was a spooky night that Matt and Cat chose to head over the downs to Shorwell. The fog had drawn in, making driving nigh-on hazardous and forcing Cat to squint hopelessly at the three inches of road visible ahead. She and Matt had planned to go to Café Number 44, Carisbrooke, as recommended by fellow Tweep, Sara Oxford but it was closed; perhaps it’s just a daytime venue? So, onward they drove at a gubber-pleasing 20 mph until the bright lights of Shorwell emerged from the gloom. Swinging into the Crown Inn’s car park, Matt and Cat then fumbled their way into the pub, careful not to fall into the little stream.

Thankfully, despite the murkiness of the night, the pub itself was well-lit and welcoming. As before, the first thing your reviewers spotted was the pub’s specials board and a quick enquiry at the bar established that food was being served. Having taken part in the annual Christmas gorge-fest, Cat was feeling a little bloated and only wanted something light. Matthew however, had been eyeing up the eating challenges in the Guinness World Records book and was ready for a hearty meal.

Burger and chips

Thankfully the Crown Inn had food for both Matt and Cat’s requirements. Cat chose the starter of pan-seared pigeon breast with red currant and something jus on a bed of sautéed spinach. Matt, remembering the harsh readers’ comments on the previous review decided to judge the venue with burger and chips, a pub standard. The order duly given at the bar, Matt and Cat took their seats at one of the pub’s cosy nooks.

It wasn’t long before the food was delivered. Cat, given a judicious warning about the temperature of her dish, would also have preferred to have been given the head’s up on the possibility of lead shot within the meat. Despite crunching on a leady ball, the little meal was delicious; the pigeon was rich and gamey and was perfectly complimented by the red jus. The spinach was a bit of a soggy mass, not quite what Cat was expecting from sautéed vegetables but it gave the dish a good colour contrast.

At first sight, Matt’s burger and chips seemed adequate; a seeded bap with chunky-cut chips and a small side salad. However, the bun was surprisingly wet – almost sodden underneath. The burger itself, though anointed with a very good covering of real cheddar, was uninspiring – with so many excellent burgers being offered these days a good pub burger will be meaty, well-textured and substantial. This one was not bad, but it didn’t really get top marks in any of those departments. The chips were better, and the salad was in fact pretty good, heavy on the cabbage but all fresh and tasty ingredients. Matt was also pleased to have a good pint of ale to wash it down with – there were no complaints about that.

The food provided a reviving meal which certainly stoked Matt and Cat up for their impending ghost walk around the mist-shrouded Newport. They set off, fortified, for the eerie excursion, reflecting on their experience and comparing the Crown with their memories of the previous visit. Matt and Cat’s revisit demonstrated a mixed bag at the Crown Inn. Cat was very pleased with her pigeon breast (despite the lead shot) but Matt was underwhelmed by his burger. However, they did not in any way experience the delays, rudeness or bad food that has inspired so many people to leave a comment on Matt and Cat’s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide. Service was timely and courteous. Either things have improved or M&C have visited on two good days, three years apart. Regardless, they’d eat there again.

Matt and Cat’s review from 18 October 2007 is below.
“Surely there can’t be anywhere left that you haven’t eaten?” is a question regularly asked of Matt and Cat. And, the geographically-minded of readers may have noticed that, within a five mile radius of Ryde, the choices are becoming fewer as more eateries are crossed off the list. Hence the recent excursions to Bembridge, Nettlestone and Sandown.

One dark evening, in the search for somewhere new, Matt and Cat pointed the Catmobile in a westerly direction and decided not to stop until a new place emerged in the glare of the headlamps. That place turned out to be the Crown Inn, Shorwell; the journey saw Matt and Cat waving as they passed already visited establishments in Ryde, Binstead, Wootton Bridge and Newport. What a lot of eating out!

Drawing the iron horse to a whinnying halt in the capacious pub car park, M and C entered the cosy pub. With its low ceilings and intimate lighting and nooks, The Crown, Shorwell retains an olde worlde pub feel. However, this doesn’t mean that the pub is stuck in the dark ages; a lovely garden with weeping willows offers a stream-side al fresco dining experience to the gentle quacking of the resident ducks.

Pork steak

On a drizzly evening like the one when Matt and Cat visited, unless you are a determined smoker, you might be more comfortable inside the pub. On entering, they patrolled the entire venue and, because the place is arranged around a central bar, ended back where they started from and chose a table by the door.

Chicken supreme

In a cunning marketing move, the first thing that you see when you enter the pub is the specials board and M and C made their choices from the tempting array. However, in the interests of good manners and their readers, M and C took some time to see what was on offer in the regular menu before ordering chicken supreme with rosemary, lemon and white wine sauce, and pork steak with apple and cider sauce. Other delights included duck breast, plenty of seafood dishes, pub favourites, such as burgers, steaks and pasta; the day’s vegetarian special was three bean and vegetable chilli with rice.
At first glance, the pork and chicken dinners looked pretty similar, with their creamy sauces, pale meats and tomato and parsley garnish. Their tastes were quite different though. The pork was delightfully lean and the sauce was sublime; the apple was neither too sweet nor too bitter and the cider gave it a great tang. Both meals were accompanied by chunky chips and one plate of seasonal vegetables to share.

The well-presented chicken supreme turned out to be both breasts of a roasted chicken, the skin of which had been seasoned to make it nice and crunchy, not flabby as chicken skin can sometimes be. The rosemary sauce was an interesting variation on chicken supreme’s usual coriander, and was soon mopped up by the thick-cut chips.

As usual, Matt and Cat were unable to squeeze in a pudding, although the strawberry pavlova looked very tempting. Where do they get strawberries from this time of year? And where was the duck sourced from? On their exit from the pub, Matt and Cat noticed that the stream seemed strangely quackless…

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  • Sean

    3rd November 2013 #1 Author

    Went with friends on Halloween with some vouchers, what an enjoyable evening. Staff dressed up and decorated the pub, they had a guess the weight of a huge pumpkin, and a snake to hold (if you wished).

    As well as the fun the food was good especially the Venison suet pudding, and a wonderful Baked Alaska. Was one of the best value nights with the vouchers and we will return as we enjoyed the meal so much! Well done all at The Crown.

    Reply

  • Jo

    27th May 2013 #2 Author

    Another nice roast meal with local meat. The vegetables were attractively arranged and cooked just how I like them – i.e. not overdone or undercooked. There were no ‘light bite’ sized main meals on offer, but thanks to my cheeky friend, we had a child’s size at a fair price. As the sun was actually out, we sat in the pleasant garden and looked at the ducks and the fish and listened to the live music.

    Reply

  • Tim

    25th July 2012 #3 Author

    Had lunch here on Saturday and it was overall a very pleasant experience. Food was pricey but very tastey, good portions and freshly cooked. Chips were a lot nicer than many island pub chips you get. Service was friendly and ok. I wasn’t sure about going here but I’d recommend it if it’s always like it was on Saturday lunchtime.

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  • Mike Walters

    18th July 2012 #4 Author

    Well, we had a big crowd there last night. overall, the food was good, and Doom Bar better…..although they managed to get about 4 of the potato styles wrong (& for one of them, curtly told us “that’s how it comes” – no, not when the nice chap behind the bar took a change to that style – rather rude!).
    Not seen “mine hosts” there for some time, it feels like it is being managed rather than owned, if that makes sense…..
    & whilst they have clearly invested a little in the decor and menus, the prices are a tad steep….

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  • Jacqueline Chambers

    22nd May 2012 #5 Author

    Well, I said I’d report back…so here it is.
    Not a good visit. 1) no welcome to speak of. 2) no atmosphere. 3) Food: small sea bass, gristly steak, average curry. 4) told at 9.20pm that we couldn’t have any hot puddings because the chef had packed up, we could only have the cold ones, needless to say we paid up and went home and had cheese and biscuits! We were asked (half heartedly, in robot/programmed manner) if all was ok, to which we told the member of staff that we weren’t and why. Not sure what, if anything, was said but I for one will not be going back! So good luck to anyone who goes there and you have a better experience than ours!

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  • Jacqueline Chambers

    15th May 2012 #6 Author

    I’ve booked a table on Saturday, so I’ll report back next week and tell you all how it was!

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  • Fat Dave

    22nd April 2012 #7 Author

    Two recent meals – the first (chicken curry) was tasty and fresh. Popadoms and chutney accompaniment helped. We couldn’t decide if we liked the experience and so tried again. Second experience was was a little less good. Landlady’s Mum definitely friendly but Dad doesn’t seem to do anything except keep watch. One couple were asked if they wanted puds when they ordered mains. They couldn’t decide and were warned that if they wanted a pud there was a £10 min charge on cards! Food OK but at up to £19 for a main course, at the top end of pub grub served with fish and chip shop style chips. I suspect fine dining aspirations, but they don’t mix with chip shop chips? What we really noticed was the state of the building. Rotten windows and boards covering holes in the ceiling. Made us wonder if money was short?

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  • Ms K and Mr P

    17th February 2012 #8 Author

    As of yet we have not eaten at the Crown Inn, however we like it for the rustic feel of the pub

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  • Tina and Alan

    14th February 2012 #9 Author

    Just got back from lunch at Crown Inn – a vast improvement on when we went there last. After last time we’d vowed not to go back there, but heard about the new Head Chef so thought we’d give it another go. Food was lovely, well presented and a good selection of specials and stuff on the main menu. Veg cooked just right. The chef and owner did seem rushed off their feet though, as no waiting staff were around till we’d ordered dessert and the Chef was actually delivering the food to the tables himself!

    Only small criticism was Alan said his dinner could have done with a bit more seasoning, but other than that, a very good meal.

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  • Pat Rodway

    8th January 2012 #10 Author

    I have to disagree with you as my husband and I have had both the Ploughmans’ and the Fish Platter both of which are on the normal menu and both of which were exceptional.

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  • Jane Lewis

    8th January 2012 #11 Author

    Specials are really good, but normal food on menu very poor.

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  • Pat Rodway

    7th January 2012 #12 Author

    Have just eaten 4 times over Christmas at the Crown Inn in Shorwell. The chef Paul Hayward Is cooking the most beautiful food. He will often serve it himself and comes out afterwards to see that it is to your liking.
    I was most impressed with the chef’s fish platter to share for 2 at an amazing £17.95 in total. I had a Ploughmans Lunch with a beautiful swan carved out of an apple. His presentation is superb and he means business. Please give him a visit and see for yourselves. The bill won’t break the bank either.

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  • Rosie White

    2nd October 2011 #13 Author

    I heard that there was a new Head chef at The Crown, after eating there last year and being very disappointed a friend of mine recomended we return. We went on a friday night and it was fantastic. The chef even came out at the end of our meal and was extremely friendly. Anyone who has been disappointed in the past should definatly return as the specials themselves are worth going for!

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  • David White

    27th August 2011 #14 Author

    Just come back from a meal at the Crown Inn at Shorwell. What a miserable experience! It was difficult to find anything positive about the meal. The soup of the day was meant to be Broccoli and Stilton – it turned out to be a very mediocre, watery vegetable soup.
    The rump steak and accompaniments were served on a cold plate. The whole meal was warmish. The steak was overcooked, dry and chewy. The salad was dried up. Grilled tomato was burned and greasy. Te chips were dry, tough and only warm. We won’t be going back again. The best thing about the meal was the Soda and Lime. If you want a good time at the Crown, don’t order any food!

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  • David Ballard

    19th August 2011 #15 Author

    No longer serving Minghella ice cream (“It’s not what it was.”)So tried the Purbeck… limited range, but very, very good.

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  • A.L.R.

    17th July 2011 #16 Author

    What a gem of a pub, beautifully kept.Wonderful location. And a Very enjoyable meal, my daughter and myself had the salmon,the curry was most enjoyable says my husband, all served in a friendly atmosphere. Will return again when we next visit The Isle of Wight. Hopefully very soon.

    Reply

  • JLP

    15th July 2011 #17 Author

    Have great memories of eating at the crown inn at shorwell around 20 years ago. It was good food in a lovely setting. Decided to visit it for a meal recently and was sadly disapointed. We felt from garden to interior that everything had an edge of neglect. The toilets were shameful which made us question eating there. We however were hungry and tired so decided to chance it. We had beef and ale pies, with new potatoes and veg’. The pastry was over cooked and burnt tasting. The veg under cooked except the cauliflower which had an insipid cheese sauce topped with a tasteless stringy cheese. The worst part however was the beef in the pie which was not only tough and chewy but also fatty and sinewy. Disgusting. The only positive thing to say is that the Mother of the landlady who was working there was warm and friendly. We won’t be going back.

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  • Dr A

    8th July 2011 #18 Author

    Very disappointing. The few lumps of “pork” on the
    ‘Mediterranean- style kebabs’ were 60% – 100% fat. Quite
    revolting, really. Salad very small.In a meal that cost over £9
    the ingredients must have cost around 40p (if that). Beer was
    good but very slow drinks service: they seem to be saving
    money on bar staff as well as quality of meals.
    Like many others (to judge from other comments), I won’t be
    going there again. I think the public deserve a little more
    respect

    Reply

  • John C

    20th April 2011 #19 Author

    I have heard that the owners spend most of their time in Lanzarote. If true it explains everything – so sad to see a once superb pub in a wonderful location go downhill so far.

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  • Neil (local)

    26th February 2011 #20 Author

    I notice that a recent comment here (not mine) has gone missing. can we know why?

    Matt and Cat respond: See our Commenting policy. The comment you saw was not compliant, so we have pulled it and contacted the comment author. (now reinstated following an answer from the commenter)

    Reply

  • ISLEOFWIGHTER

    25th February 2011 #21 Author

    DONT GO TO THIS PUB FOR FOOD!It took over an hour for our food to arrive,my husband ordered cod wraped in parma ham it was cold and not cooked and looked horrible.we complained of this and the waitress come back and asked if he wanted it reheated?no thanks!instead he had steak whitch tasted of fish.My steak was very bloody and i asked for medium cooked.To top it of My son had a childs lasagnya,It had no pasta in it.Who is stupid enough to make a lasagnya without pasta.I was to embarressed for the pub to even metion the pasta,: i couldnt wait to leave.Im guted i spent over 60 quid in this PUB ITS DEFANETLY THE WORST MEAL AT A COUNTRY PUB THAT IVE EVER SEEN AND TASTED YUK,……. YOU NEED A GOOD CHEF CROWN IN PUB …DONT WASTE YA MONEY HERE YOU WILL BE DISSAPOINTED….

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  • donna

    23rd September 2010 #22 Author

    I would really recommend the owners read these comments as they could have a real gold mine here with little thought. I live in shorwell and would love to make this my local.

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  • donna

    23rd September 2010 #23 Author

    The pub is lovely and the staff nice, the beer is great and the food totaly unpalatable. We spent £40 on over cooked, dry cajun chicken, and a blue cheese and leek lasagne with zero blue cheese and 100 yukky, neither of us could finish it. We have eaten here 3 times and each time has been bad. Pity as a drinks are great and the pub its super lovely its just the food thats awful.

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  • John C

    13th July 2010 #24 Author

    Having been a regular visitor to the Crown when Mike and Sally were mine hosts and disappointed when they retired it was sad to find lower standards in all departments under the new managment. After two very poor meals we decided to cease visiting. Nearly two years later we had another try recently. It was even worse – cottage pie a liquid mess swimming with peas, tastless burgers with no seasoning, unfriendly staff and worst of all the lovely garden was totally unkept not a flower in sight and scruffy. We shall not go again. I would be surprised if the owners survive next winter !

    Reply

  • John Murrell

    21st June 2010 #25 Author

    At the weekend I took a party of 14 people for a Saturday lunch.
    We had a copy of the latest menue from Pamela so we Knew in advance what was available, so ordering did not take too long.
    Because it was a large group and we had warned them in advance we had a special table in one of the side rooms set for us.
    We all thought that the choice of food was excellent and the service very good. There was no complaints and everybody was well satisfied with their food. One of our party had the duck and is going back to have the other half!
    The Crown is a beautiful pub in a nice setting with a large garden and a river flowing through filled with trout.
    A realy nice place and I would not hesitate to go back again.

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  • Jon

    21st May 2010 #26 Author

    Seems all is not well at the Crown! Zero stars on the EHO website!!!!

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  • David D. Ballard

    11th April 2010 #27 Author

    Very friendly service. Generous portions… and suitably hot. Great puds. Special mention of the Spotted Dick. I’ve not had that for years (medical joke!)

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  • Anonymous

    25th March 2010 #28 Author

    I would not recommend this place even with the new menu & a big change they should have done is to have reduced the prices… It’s a pub not a restaurant.
    It is such a shame as the actual pub & grounds are spectacular & gorgeous in the summer.
    As another person has mentioned “staff are excellent and without them the place would fall apart” & the landlords should quit before things get any worse, if thats possible & let people take over who know what they are doing!!

    OVERALL – DON’T GO

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  • Reeny

    28th September 2009 #29 Author

    The Crown used to be a favourite of ours for food years ago, when they used to do the best garlic bread on the island! We visited last year and sadly said we were sure we’d never bother again as it was not the same quality as it used to be.

    We must be forgiving souls as we went again a few days ago and sat out in the lovely garden. One of us had the home made burger and the other had the tagliatelle. Wow! We were both impressed with the quality of the freshly made food that was served by a friendly waitress. Portions were generous and I have never before tasted such a lovely balsamic dressing as I did on my side salad, that came with the burger. The husband normally wont go near a mushroom, so I was expecting to see a little pile of them left on his plate. But no, he actually enjoyed them.

    The Crown is back on my pub list!

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  • brinkley

    13th August 2009 #30 Author

    The place to go to be screwed over. And when you challenge they tell you you’re lying!
    For all the prettiness of the location, going to The Crown spoilt what would otherwise have been a lovely day.

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  • A former overner

    9th June 2009 #31 Author

    The Crown has been one of our favourite places to eat on the Island for years and when we
    lived on the Island for a while, we went there regularly. However, on a trip there last
    summer, we were VERY disappointed with the food. As it was quite a cold day (don’t you
    just love our English weather!) we ordered some good old pub food – sausage and mash
    with homemade onion gravy. I can honestly say it was the worst food I have ever
    had. The sausage and mash were barely warm and the sausage was undercooked but the most
    unappetising part of it was the gravy. Instead of homemade onion gravy as promised – a
    pot of the cheapest catering-type oxtail soup seemed to have been poured over it! It
    really was awful. We should have complained, but didn’t. Instead we both spent the rest
    of the day feeling very ill.

    We’re coming over to the Island again soon and really hope that the chef problems at The
    Crown have been sorted out now as it used to be a lovely place to eat and spend an hour
    or so sitting in the pub garden.

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  • Geoff

    10th May 2009 #32 Author

    Having not been to the Crown for many years, probably 10 or more, we decided to see what it is like these days.

    Choice of beers pretty good. Nice atmosphere but a bit noisy.

    We ordered 2 chicken curries, scampi and pasta dish. the pasta and scampi were OK but the curries !!

    8 chunks of chicken on a bed of rice covered in a chili tomato sauce – definately NOT curry.

    when we went to pay i mentioned that the ‘curry’ was disappointing and was asked “what not enough chicken”

    I think I might try again in another 10 years.

    PS the meals were also on the expensive side

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  • VANESSA GOODALL

    18th February 2009 #33 Author

    from Vanessa.
    Myself and my husband went for a meal at the Crown on Sunday evening and it was extremely good!!
    After reading some of the reviews we were a tad apprehensive? but the meals were perfect, my husband always has steak and the sirloin he said was cooked to perfection!
    All in all we had a perfect evening of good food, good company and excellent customer service the barman was first class!!!
    Would recommend to all.

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  • Kate

    13th January 2009 #34 Author

    Visited the Crown recently after a long absence and have to say we enjoyed ourselves immensely!
    The food was great and the service was even better, Staff were very friendly and we had many a giggle so thank you to pauline and gareth! will be back

    Reply

  • Paul

    22nd November 2008 #35 Author

    It’s a shame to see the negetive comments above. My wife and I regularly eat out and
    consider the crown to be one of the best pubs on the island.
    We popped in today and the food was as excellent as ever; had the portebella steak after
    much deliberation!(lots of specials to chose from!) she had the mushroom stroganoff

    the young barman was very welcoming and friendly and it was nice to cosy up next to
    the crackling fire!

    We were told about an upcoming dickens ‘christmas carol’ night in decmber complete with
    turkey and pudding so have already booked ourselves in!

    Highly Recommended to anyone!

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  • Colin and Teresa

    20th November 2008 #36 Author

    Visited The Crown Tuesday 18th November having previously had many good meals there. However, it was very disapponting. The vegetable curry was in fact carrot curry and not very tasty. The chicken curry was completely tasteless – bits of what appeared to be frozen chicken in a tomato sauce. The plaice was very dry with a very thick coating. We did complain at the time and were offered free puds or coffee but declined. We will not be back.

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  • John

    6th November 2008 #37 Author

    I hear that the head chef is up for an award.

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  • Wendy

    28th September 2008 #38 Author

    Pleased to say our visit to The Crown today was far better than last time (see my comment from March 08). The opening hours (12-9pm each day), menu, and staffing have all improved, attitude was generally cheery and helpful. We were able to place our order promptly and food arrived within half an hour. Ian enjoyed his pork steak on apple sauce, with a cheese topping. My tuna steak was plentiful, though I was a bit thrown by the orange and mango “compote” accompanying it, which contained tinned mandarin oranges; not quite the zingy sauce I’d anticipated. Accompanying vegetables were very nicely done: cabbage, carrots and creamed swede with pepper; plus new potatoes. My six-year old son wolfed down a tuna mayo sandwich, served with crisps and salad.

    The Crown was busy (Sunday evening), with plenty of booked tables. I do hope the teething problems for the new management are over and it continues to improve.

    Reply