Let’s say you’re stuck with a traditional newsagent’s shop in Gurnard. It’s been trading for years but frankly, the writing is on the wall. Nobody buys fags any more, printed media is not really a growing market, and as for sweets and toiletries, darling, we all get them from Waitrose. What to do? Gurnard Press is the perfect solution to this conundrum. The witty double-take name explains how the newsagent still survives as an adjunct to a successful village coffee shop.
The de rigeur Farrow and Ball grey exterior plus Gill Sans signwriting gives the impression of an urban hipster coffee lounge, maybe with serious bearded millennials working on their MacBooks over a chai latte. But once inside we found a cheerful cafe environment, with plenty of newsagent ephemera in evidence. Greetings cards, magazines and newspapers are most definitely still on sale, and indeed whilst we were there we saw many locals pop in to buy their paper and have a chat over the counter.
Clearly this was not just an ordinary newsagents. Chalked on a slate was an offer of homemade gluten free dog biscuits for just £2 a bag. Near a display of artisan handbags there was a single crushed Strongbow can in a frame, for £45.
The place was buzzing with families out for a stroll, plus well-heeled older couples supping hot drinks over a shared crossword. A posse of assorted dogs waited patiently on the hitching rails outside as their owners lingered indoors. We grabbed a window seat and squeezed into a little table which turned out to be the former platform for an old-fashioned sewing machine. Impressive upcycling but less convenient for those who wish to accommodate their legs underneath it. We were there to please our stomachs not our knees, so we took a look at the menu which, amazingly, was not presented on a clipboard.
Pot of tea £2.40
Avocado and egg on toast £7.45
Press breakfast £8.95
Fruit pancakes £4.95
Cat’s smashed avocado was topped with an optional poached egg, on granary bread. There’s a movement gaining traction which has started a backlash against the avocado; decrying its production in South America, connections with Mexican drug cartels and the environment-destroying air miles required to deliver these soft fruits to our ever-gaping food-trend-appreciating mouths. That message hasn’t made its way to Gurnard, nor to Cat’s food choices, so she enjoyed the freshly mashed avocado blended with a hint of finely-chopped red chilli. The egg was as good as it could be; you know the drill by now – firm white and runny golden yolk. Textbook stuff; delicious – and so photogenic!
Matt went for the low-fry Press Breakfast of course, declining beans. He was offered extra bacon instead – a commendable substitution that was warmly received. The breakfast came with toast alongside, with a choice of jam, marmalade or, joy of joys, Marmite! Matt was delighted with this unusual opportunity and naturally snapped it up. The breakfast was decent enough, with the rich and soft scrambled egg being the star of the plate alongside the large portobello mushroom; and the bland sausage being a bit of a lacklustre contrast.
With all thoughts of a new year’s diet flying out of the vast picture window, Cat ordered a second course, or breakfast pudding if you will. From the pancake submenu she ordered a stack with fruit compote and natural yoghurt. The attractive berry blend was deliciously fruity and there was plenty of creamy yoghurt to take the edge off any tartness and help the pancakes slide down nicely. With seconds on the leaf tea and Jasper’s coffee, we certainly had a hearty breakfast, but eventually withdrew giving up our seat for the next party.
For a day in early January in one of the Island’s smaller communities which has a reputation for second homes and seasonal sailors, it was surprising how busy the cafe was. There was a steady, if not, crowded flow all the time we were there and we can assure you it’s not because Gurnard Press is the only place for miles around. With a varied menu, decent locally-roasted coffee and fair prices, this is a venue we’d be happy to recommend.
This is the full-length version of the review that appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press.
Three stars: a decent place that we’d recommend.