Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
(see below for 2006 review) 2008 Review: dashing home after a football match, Matt and the lads were in Sandown with a mind to...

(see below for 2006 review)

2008 Review: dashing home after a football match, Matt and the lads were in Sandown with a mind to eat chips.

Fat Harry's, Sandown

Leaving Bill sitting in the car in his studs and mud-caked football kit, Jack and Matt nipped into Fat Harry’s to try the takeaway. When Matt and his junior reviewers had first visited Fat Harry’s, two years ago, it had been new and shiny (see review below). They’d eaten in, and found the food and service to be above average.

So how had Fat Harry’s fared in the meantime? For a start, there seemed to have been a change of personnel. The jolly frying fellow was no longer behind the counter, and some chap with a kitchen overall intriguingly marked ‘Marina Bay Hotel‘ was there instead. Matt ordered two cod and chips, and a chicken and mushroom pie and chips. He and Jack settled down to await their order. They noticed that the place looked more-or-less the same, not quite the glittering new emporium of 2006 but still a clean and tidy shop. The food came soon enough, wrapped in sweet-smelling hot paper as tradition demands.

When the parcel was finally unwrapped back home, a decent pie was on top – piping hot, albeit with a lot more sauce than meat or mushroom. The two cod were both fairly meagre to look at, and the chips, although scant in number, looked pretty good. On tucking in, the diners found that these first impressions were quite accurate.

Cod and chips

The pie was tasty, the fish was not. A very thick layer of batter encased two slight slivers of cod. Sadly, the batter was so thick that the inside was floury and soggy, and the whole lot peeled off soon enough. The outside was pretty greasy. Worse was to come – although one of the cod was not too bad, the other one proved to be riddled with bones, and under the white flesh a whole strip of thick dark skin did nothing to improve matters. A certain amount of skin and bones is all part of the white fish experience – but there are limits. Disappointing.

The good news, however, was the chips. Just as before, these chips were very good indeed. Cooked to perfection, tasting fresh and wholesome, not too oily and with plenty of soft potato inside; these were eagerly eaten by the chaps. In fact, they wouldn’t have minded a few more.

Matt concludes that Fat Harry’s has still not quite achieved its self-appointed goal of ‘gourmet fish and chips’. If anything, the service, food quality and quantity has faded a little since 2006. However, it’s far from a lost cause and is still worth a visit.

2006 Review: You’re beside the seaside, and so, naturally enough, you wish to eat fish and chips. Oddly enough, this more-or-less universal craving can strike the would-be diner at any time of the year. However, it seems as though certain establishments on the Isle of Wight are unaware of this – closing, as they do, for much of the off-season. Those which remain open are worthy of investigation.

Fat Harry’s is a fairly new franchised fish and chip establishment in the Island’s capital of the bucket-and-spade holiday, Sandown. It opens every day from lunch until late, and when Matt ventured there on a cold and windy February afternoon, he found a warm welcome.

Fat Harry's fish and chip restaurant

No, your eyes do not deceive you
– there really is a plasma screen displaying the menu.
How wonderfully nerdy is that?
It scrolls, too!
Your attention is directed to the Fat Harry’s website
– an unusually good example of a simple,
informative and welcoming restaurant website.

The place is glitteringly clean, modern, well-designed and functional. The traditional fish counter and bar is reassuringly in place, and you can see the food cooked in front of you. Take-away seems to be the popular choice, but there are clean comfortable tables to sit at if you wish to eat in. The floor under the chairs is even carpeted – a minor point, but if you’ve been in a few seaside chip-joints you will appreciate just what this says about the style of Fat Harry’s.

On arrival, your reviewers were greeted jovially by the amiable proprietor, whose vaguely north-eastern accent put Matt in mind of pleasant fish suppers enjoyed in places such as Whitley Bay and Tynemouth. Traditional chip-shop menu items were on offer, alongside the slightly exotic, such as hot drinks and burgers. A hot cup of tea was the first to arrive, although UHT milk and a bag in the cup was perhaps a little disappointing for such a high class joint. The food was freshly cooked, so a short delay ensured. Junior reviewer Bill, taking his reviewing duties very seriously, took the opportunity to inspect the toilet facilities at this point, and stoically declined to break cover even when sent back to ‘wash his hands properly’. Debriefed at a safe location later, he reported them to be pretty clean and comfortable, even if the bin was overflowing with paper towels. Like everything at Fat Harrys, the toilets were immaculately new and so have not yet had the travails of a busy summer season to see how they fare – perhaps they won’t be so clean this time next year, but then again, it seems quite likely that they will (update: see comment below).

When the food arrived, it was a pleasure to see. Well-presented on a big oval plate, the piping-hot fish was large, tasty and perfectly cooked. A tiny garnish of tired iceberg lettuce was something of a formality, but the big wedge of freshly-cut lemon alongside was just what was required. Copious quantities of perfect, golden-brown chips were reinforced by a complementary extra plateful from the friendly host, who seemed to worry that his customers might waste away. Matt’s cup of tea didn’t really recover from the UHT milk, but this small flaw was more than eclipsed by the splendid food.

This restaurant is certainly a few pegs above the average chip shop; and as a place to eat it provides reasonable value for money compared with similar sit-down venues. It offers a comfortable and enjoyable environment, and the welcoming staff and good service ensured that the whole experience was one which may well be repeated soon.
Fat Harry’s, Sandown High Street

  • PAUL MULLERY says:

    Re the bright orange batter. Identical to the fish and chips I had at Alexandra’s in Ryde. A most strange colour! If you think Fat Harry’s in Sandown is bad, you have obviously never tried The Cod Father on Ryde seafront.

  • Traveler says:

    Steer well clear, we visited it during May half term week. This is the worst Fish and Chip shop i have ever been to in over 43 years. As you entered the premises your shoes stuck and slipped across the grease ridden floor. The fish we had, the batter was bright orange. The chips were undercooked. Shame as it was many years ago brilliant.

  • Gary says:

    These are the worst fish & Chips I have ever tasted! He warmed up left over chips from earlier in the microwave oven and the fish was more skin and bone than actual fish! I don’t know how these people stay in business! Disgusting. Now I can understand why there is never anybody in there!

  • anon says:

    I visited this shop in July 10, we all ordered our food and sat down to wait, when it came my battered sausage was red inside, my husbands cod tasted disgusting when i told the man behind the counter he was very rude stated it was cooked i said it cannot be cooked when it has blood inside and then he when on to say that he has been having problems with his supplier and he would be changing suppliers soon he gets a complaint everyday reguarding sausages not cooked, so why the hell sell them still???? I walked out and will never used this shop again

  • Alan says:

    Went to Fat Harry’s tonight as the Avenue Road Chippy was shut for annual holiday’s. Haven’t been for well over a year and it was very busy. Excellent fish and chips and without doubt the best chips I have tasted from a takeaway for many a year. Much better than the fish and chips we got from Brading last weekend & I would certainly use again

  • Holiday Maker says:

    Average, average, very, very average “the best on the Island” (always the staff comments)
    chips soggy and fish batter slimey …..not a good start

  • Natalie says:

    What a mixed batch! My family and I eat chips from Fat Harry’s EVERY Saturday night without fail. Since Gary took over the shop’s been fantastic, they are by far the best chips on the island, believe us when our chippy closed we were distraught and it took us ages to find a new one that was good enough! We know for a fact the chips are made from real potato (Often a topic of discussion at the meal table) and we always get a very warm welcome. We’ve tried nearly everything off the menu and have never *Touch wood* Been dissapointed. I would highly reccommend you give them another try! You might just be surprised 🙂

  • Peter Chiverton says:

    Well we saw their advert in the County Press last week stating they do gluten free fish
    and chips. Normally I can’t eat shop fish & chips as there is wheat flour in the batter. We phoned
    to order take away food and went down to collect – on a Friday evening – the food was
    ready on my arrival, reasonably priced and tasted fantastic. We shall be back on our
    next visit to the IW – and we’ll be recommending it to other coeliacs.

    Looks like the FH website could do with an update though – doesn’t match the menu prices
    in the shop.

  • Holiday Maker says:

    Possibly the worst fish and chips i`ve eaten this year !
    Found a very nice takeaway at ventnor Ocean view very nice and tastey!!!

  • charlotte says:

    We visted sandown yesterday and we were looking forward to a fish and chip lunch after a long walk along the seafront……..what a shame we went to fat harrys we should have known when we walked in and saw almost full plates of food at empty tables!

    the chips had been fried so much there was no potato left just a hard shell. the fish was stone cold and went back,the second bit was worse,the fist was tiny and was going brown and cardboard like,teeming with bones.the batter was so thick and overcooked it wasnt crispy but hard as nails i wanted to leave a message on the website but of course they dont give that option,wonder why,the guest book would be full of complaints!

  • Sean says:

    I visited Fat Harry’s in July 2008 and ordered Cod and Chips for £4.55 which is very good value. It was noticable that the shop was fairly busy even in the late afternoon which is always a good sign as the competing chip shop next door was empty.

    I’m pleased to say the meal was well cooked with decent chips and tasty Cod.

  • jonty stewart says:

    Hi Matt & Cat, just wanted you to know that we sold Fat Harry’s in December last year; it’s now owned by Gary & Lauren Beaumont. Thanks to all the customers who enjoyed our fish & chips, and sorry to the ones who didn’t… apart from the miserable bad-tempered ones who wanted the world on a plate for tuppence and came on holiday to our beautiful island determined to be miserable and not spend any money – w***ers!!

    Jonty (Fat Harry)

  • ahmet hertfordshire says:

    I have been in the Fish and Chips trade a good 30 yrs (most of my family owned Fish shops in North London). On Wednesday 2nd of April 2008, i went to Fat Harrys with my family (wife and 3 children). I can honestly say that is is without doubt the worse Fish and Chips i have ever tasted. Apart from what i paid, what made me angry was the awards in the window !

    Two young lads one serving who was not bothered that we had sat at a table that had not been cleaned after last customer that sat there, and a fryer who thinks by heating the oil to a high temperature, means you can cook a piece of fish in under 5 mins. The batter was burned, and the fish was still raw. The chips had already been blanched ages before, and had absorbed so much oil, that when re-fryed they were so crisp and full of oil. I hope the owners are made aware before they lose their business, unless those two clowns are the owners, then they should be shut down.

  • jackie says:

    fat harrys not bad but if your looking for the best chippy its in monkton street ryde, chipmunks best freshest fish and chips ive had for a long time sorry fat harrys ive tried you both and you do come a close second.

  • Gill says:

    We visited Fat Harrys for lunch on holiday last week. Cod and chips absolutely delicious and such good sized portions. We sat close to the till, it was quite busy and they had just taken a huge order for something like 28 portions of chips and various other items, so we resigned ourselves for a long wait, but no, the food arrived within 10 minutes. Staff were very pleasant but we noticed they had to put up with some moaning from senior citizens. Would definitely give it the thumbs up for quality and value for money.

  • Stuart Simpson says:

    Have you reviewed Corries Cabin in Cowes. It is pretty good

  • kerry says:

    It’s the first chip shop we tried. As the assistant was preparing the chips sweat dripped off him into them, he had to do another portion. I’d say compared to anything I have had from a chippy these were horrible….real shame as the decor was so nice

  • Allison & Robert says:

    I thought Fat Harry’s was absolutely awful!!!!

    The food was late to begin with even though he advertises that you will have your meal in 15mins. Then you get it and they forget half of what was ordered and gives some lame excuse for it being late.
    I thought never mind once it tastes good I will forgive the tardiness. Well……… was tasteless.

    We were visiting Isle of Wight and because of the recommendation in the Island Life Magazine we went there. Totally dissappointing. I won’t be recomending Fat Harry’s to anyone.

  • Matt says:

    Blimey, D.Runham, you did have a bad day didn’t you! It dosn’t sound at all like the experience we had. And I can’t help wondering if the whole idea of a pensioner portion is that it isn’t very big. However, in the Isle of Wight County Press this week Fat Harry’s ran an advert apologising to anyone who had to wait over the summer, due to the very busy time they had. So maybe that had something to do with it. Or maybe they’ve gone downhill! Matt & Cat will return in due course to investigate.

  • d.runham says:

    went 07.09.2006 Fat Harrys Sandown.
    had an OAP MEAL if the fish had been any smaller it would have blown
    off the plate, the tea was undrinkable I don’t know what teabags they
    use,it was a shame to spoil the water, we would have been better with
    a normal one between us, but as every body went they all left chips on their plates,it was’t because they had too many, they were inedible.
    It is one fish shop we won’t recommend, or go to again.

  • Matt says:

    Ah, well, you’ve put us straight there! I knew you were not from around here but apologies for not even getting the right country. Glad you found our contribution helpful – we look forward to a nice cup of tea!

  • Dear Matt & Cat, many thanks for your splendid review of Fat Harry’s, we’re delighted you enjoyed it so much and look forward to seeing you again soon!

    Just a couple of little errata for you – I’m actually from Belfast (via France, London & Manchester, so the accent’s probably a bit confused by now), Clair’s from Wigan, and the shop’s already over a year old (opened in March 2005), so your comments about the toilets being brand new and not having had to survive a summer season are particularly complimentary 🙂

    We make a point of trying to be a cut above the rest and in fact came top five in the region in last year’s national Fish & Chip Shop of the Year competition (our region includes Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Berkshire & the Isle of Wight). Needless to say, we are determined to improve on that this year.

    Your honest and unbiased feedback has been extremely useful – we’re off to look for teapots and milk jugs this week 🙂


    Jonty & Clair Stewart
    Proprietors, Fat Harry’s

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