The Eight Bells is a popular pub, frequented by families and the Sunday lunch brigade. Positioned as it is in the middle of the...

The Eight Bells is a popular pub, frequented by families and the Sunday lunch brigade. Positioned as it is in the middle of the pretty village of Carisbrooke and with a well-populated duck pond in its leafy garden, one can see why.

Beef in a creamy pepper sauce

Having wandered around inside the cavernous pub and ordered their food, Matt and Cat chose a seat in the garden, by the delightful pond. The menu was plentiful with a good array of specials although the prices seemed a tad expensive. However, on the plus side, the play facilities were very good – a good family pub garden – and there were plenty of little ducklings carrying out their duckling antics on the pond. It was particularly nice to see that the vast pond was not cordoned off in a draconian way; in this risk-averse nation of ours, it might have seemed prudent to fence off the whole area and put up acres of notices about keeping away from the edge. But no, just a simple low wall and a low chain fence separate visitors from peril, without impeding the view. And, you know what? This understated approach seems to work.

In their reviews of eating out places on the Isle of Wight, Matt and Cat do not normally concern themselves too much with peripherals like car parking and toilets unless they are particularly notable. Such is the case of the ladies toilet at the Eight Bells. The single facility is pretty grim and Cat, having already ordered food before paying a visit, was very concerned.

Rotten wood

Scanning the rotten wood of the skirting board, the grubby walls and the rusty plumbing, Cat shuddered to think what state the kitchen was in. Still, people want to know the truth and Matt and Cat are here to give it to them.

In fact it turns out that the kitchen isn’t as bad as the toilet, as the helpful IW Council food safety website gives the Eight Bells 4 out of 5 stars (at the time of M&C’s visit). The ladies was a bit of an anomaly; the gents toilet turned out to be freshly refurbished and clean.

Gents toilet, Eight Bells

The gents did feature Matt’s pet hate, which he has christened ‘Hologram Taps’: these are the sort of taps that can only be used by holding them down. So the only way to actually wash your hands is to press down the tap with your forehead… leaving the imprint of a letter H on your skin. If you don’t understand why this means ‘Hologram’, it’s too tedious to explain. Here’s the money shot:

Hologram taps leave their mark!

Matt’s forehead. Not quite an ‘H’ but you get the idea.

So, on to the food. This was delivered by a friendly lady, who had to cart it all the way out to the pondside table. Matt chose beef in creamy pepper sauce, served with a big bowl of chips and a nice salad. This turned out to be a very enjoyable dish made not, as he was expecting, with slivers of fried beef, but generous hunks of tender braising steak which were served in a splendid rich sauce.

Quorn and cashew nut curry

Quorn and cashew nut curry

Cat chose, unusually, quorn and cashew korma, which was served with a fresh and crunchy poppadom and piles of steamed rice. The plentiful curry was delicious and creamy with what looked like sprigs of fresh coriander in it. Cat was delighted with her meal, and even exclaimed that the poppadom was better than the some of the normal offerings at Indian restaurants.

So, finally, the pleasure of the excellent meal in such enjoyable surroundings quite took away all the bother about the toilets. Matt and Cat enjoyed their visit to the Eight Bells, and would recommend it.

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  • Neil (Local)

    30th October 2012 #1 Author

    Took my two sons in today for lunch. My eldest (who had just had his wisdom tooth out) opted for the Pumpkin soup which he enjoyed. My youngest had a child’s sausage and chips with peas which he also enjoyed. I had a steak, mushroom and onion baguette which came with salad and chips. I found the chips just as i like them, normal straight cut but crispy. The steak was done just as I wanted so all in all a very satisfactory lunch stop.

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  • Dave

    9th September 2012 #2 Author

    We went 3 times during a week in June and were very impressed. Under the relatively new owners the food was excellent, the service good and the owners and staff extremely friendly. It was always busy and i think that shows how good it is. If you are staying in Carrisbrooke then would recommend a visit. No need for a car and thus can have a drink as well.

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  • simon

    7th March 2012 #3 Author

    I’m looking at these comments food is terrible expensive the place is cold and just dull use to be good total waste of money.

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  • JJ

    5th June 2011 #4 Author

    We’ve visited the Eight Bells several times since it re-opened under new management and were there again today. There is always a friendly welcome from all the staff and a great atmosphere.
    Whether it was just the two of us or whether we went as an extended family group, the food has been excellent, served piping hot and the meals arrived together. Will most definitely return!

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  • Vicky

    25th May 2011 #5 Author

    Went to the Eight Bells today, had fantastic cream tea, scones were melt in your mouth. Company was great, staff were extremely friendly and helpful. Will definately be back for more.

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  • colin james

    19th May 2011 #6 Author

    Went in Last week for a meal with the wife. Pub looked a lot cleaner and warming then it did under last people. was expecting long wait due to how busy it was, we got last free table! big portions, good taste, nice staff and only waited 25mins, we’ll be back!

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  • Heather

    9th April 2011 #7 Author

    I have just spent 7 days in Carisbrook on a walking holiday, and each night we ate at the Eight Bells.
    A very welcoming atmosphere, friendly and courteous staff. The food is of substantial proportions – just what you need after a days walking.
    I had food from both the Menu and also the ‘specials’ board, both were as good as each other, and piping hot.
    I would recommend this pub to all – families, couples and especially walkers – they didnt seem to mind our rucksacs!

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  • Tracy

    9th April 2011 #8 Author

    I recently visited the newly refurbished Eight Bells to celebrate my twin daughters 20th birthday with family ranging from the ages of 18 months – great grandparent, Our party consisted of 17 people who each ordered individually, however this was not a problem as all meals were served near on at the same time, We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, and was made to feel really welcome by all members of staff. I would recommend this pub as a venue for any family occasions. We were impressed with the layout and the decore, it has a very friendly and inviting atmosphere.

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  • ghostmoth

    17th February 2011 #9 Author

    Apparently the Eight Bells is currently being refurbished prior to opening under new management at the end of the month.

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  • Simon Jeffs

    18th November 2010 #10 Author

    We had a DofE group over on the island and the staff went to the pub for breakfast one morning. What can I say wow! It meant I didn’t have to eat until the evening. The food was great. Suffice to say we had breakfast there all week! Yes the toilets were a bit dodgy but then I chose to eat at a table 🙂

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  • Deta-Marie Lockyer

    19th August 2010 #11 Author

    This is a fantastic pub with very friendly staff, who go out of their way to accomodate every dietry need they can. It’s been a firm favourite of Islanders (such as myself) for many years. I have fond memories of the pub from my childhood, it’s hardly changed at all. The portions are massive and you really do get value for money here. Play area and pond to keep the children amused (some adults too!!!) We have family get togethers here too, am just about to see if they have some tables free for my 40th Birthday next month. Highly reccomend place to eat 🙂

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  • chris

    12th December 2009 #12 Author

    I would suggest a revisit is in order! Having been told about the great food at the eight bells I decided it was worth a visit. How disappointed was I to get one of the worst meals i have experienced in a long time. I ordered the lamb and rosemary hot pot with fresh veg. what arrived bore no resemblance to a hot pot, chunks of lamb (well cooked though) covered by dried out slices of potato, no gravy, juice, sauce or liquid of any kind, just dried lamb chunks and potato with a plate of under cooked veg (and no I’m not the sort that likes his veg cooked to within an inch of there life) no gravy on the plate at all.

    How disappointed was I to get one of the worst meals i have experienced in a long time.

    when I complained at the bar the first person I spoke to said they could get me some gravy but they would probably charge for it!! second person saw reason and arranged a jug of gravy, unfortunately it was the onion gravy that went with the sausages, I like onion gravy but not with lamb and rosemary. I overheard the chap from the kitchen telling the lady behind the bar that the lamb was off as it had dried out (possibly when frozen) pity they didn’t decide that before serving mine.
    My wife had a steak, sirloin in name only as it resembled more of a stewing piece then something that should be grilled or fried, it was more a case of cut the meat of the fatty gristle then the other way round.
    So why not complain louder? I hear you say……well it was my daughters 18Th birthday and it was meant to be a treat for her and her friend and there chips looked passable so we didn’t want to make a scene…..only to find out after we left that she didn’t want to complain as we were treating her but she couldn’t eat the fish as it was greasy (has to be bad for an 18 year old to comment) and full of bones. and her friend’s meal? I feel we will never know as she is a polite girl who would probably keep her thoughts to herself when someone else is paying and they had suggested the place……but suffice to say she has not suggested a return trip.

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  • Sophie

    3rd November 2009 #13 Author

    Visited only yesterday. Been on the Island for 4 days and easily the best meal we had eaten. Excellent value, MASSIVE portions and all freshly cooked. Tradtional menu but also some great alternative specials. Not very busy when we visited (3pm) but would definately recommend to anyone in the area. Really surprised ad the standard of food in a pub that serves all day. Friendly staff who catered to wishes of extra items/personalising the food.

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  • Mrs Lansley

    4th July 2008 #14 Author

    A lovely family pub, with superb facilities and Excellent food. Very fast service and lovely freindly staff. Also the
    Children loved the surprise toy at the end of there meal. Thankyou for the lovely meals.

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  • Trish Milne

    12th July 2007 #15 Author

    Very confused by Sammy (visitor)’s comments. The food at the Eight Bells is, generally, of a very high standard. I can personally recommend the Spicy Chicken which has to be one of the best meals I have ever eaten. However, I always have it with rice – not the chips which are the standard accompaniment. Contrary to Sammy’s comments the staff do care and I can only imagine that he/she was so rude or difficult to understand they were confused as to what the problem was.

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  • Amy Parker

    20th June 2007 #16 Author

    well i am a regular eater at the eight bells and in the past 7 years of me eating there i dont think i have a bad thing to say! the staff are always pleasent and willing to help and the food service is excellent! and refering to sammy, unfortunatly every now and then you are bound to come accross an odd hair not that i have expierenced it at the eight bells but it has happened to me at other places this is just part of life! personally i think sammy must of gone to a different pub as i have no problems with the eight bells and i would highly recommend it!!

    Editor’s note: at the author’s request Sammy’s original comment has now been withdrawn.

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  • Hayley Webster

    13th June 2007 #17 Author

    this is the bosses daughter first i would like to thank you for your lovely comments and thoughts! how ever i would like to point out that we have been busy with lots of maintance work such as our play equipment, gents toilet and the patio upstairs, and the ladies toilet is on our next to do list now the patio is complete. And im sure you are aware that it is difficult to get everything done at once as there is not enough hours in the day.

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