With Cat unexpectedly incapacitated, Matt had to find himself an alternative dining-out companion. First in line was barbeque-enthusiast Kieron, an old pal who has many times plied Matt with more perfectly-grilled meat than a normal human should ever eat. The well-matched duo set off towards Ventnor on the hunt for some good eating.
High Street Bar Co in Ventnor is a spectacular conversion of a former grotty old shop into a sparkling, modern sports bar that also offers food. Last year they boldly contacted Matt and Cat to draw attention to their burgers. So when Matt and Kieron – after a false start elsewhere in the town – ended up outside this door, there was little doubt as to what was going to happen next. It was Champions League final night and the place was packed with fans, but nonetheless they were soon sorted out with a nice quiet table on the comfortable mezzanine floor, where the yells and whoops of the fans below gave them the enjoyable experience of feeling like they were part of the action, without actually having to watch any football.
HSBC has a cute ordering system whereby patrons fill out a questionnaire and hand it to the server, not unlike the traditional catalogue-based process at Argos. On the menu were burgers and pizzas and the usual accompaniments, jazzed up by waggish spellings such as SEAZ’ND FRIES or WINGZ. This was surprisingly easy to use. The lads both ordered beef burgers, with extra toppings that could be selected from the unusually broad range on the list. Matt went for a simple cheese and bacon combo, whilst Kieron pushed the boat out with bacon, Emmental, rocket and a fried egg. The meals were prepared in the open kitchen and arrived hot and fast, in those trendy foil containers, and with proper metal cutlery.
Matt’s burger: £8.20
Kieron’s burger: £9.10
Crazy fries 2 @ £4.50
Now these burgers were not bad. The choice of toppings was the best bit, and the diners indulged themselves thoroughly with those. The meat itself was fine – not the best burger on the Island, not even the best in Ventnor but certainly well above average. So let’s just skip ahead to the important bit. Both guys ordered crazy fries, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you will eat at the High Street Bar Co. You see, it’s long been a maxim of Matt’s that on any decent menu all this business with meat, cheese, vegetables and so on is just filler to give legitimacy to chips. A poor showing in the chip department can’t be mitigated by even the finest, most tender steak. A good stack of chips will allow you to forgive anything; and if you order crazy fries at High Street Bar Co you’re going to get exactly that. A big foil carton packed to the brim with soft, hot fries; coated liberally in garlic mayo and topped with a thick slough of cheesy sauce. With a generous allowance of crispy bacon bits over the whole lot, this was more like an inspired potato-based version of macaroni cheese. Matt and Kieron chowed down on their crazy fries like men possessed. No hipster truffle-oil or parmesan crisps here – this was simple but glorious manfood.
High Street Bar Co is an unashamed sports bar experience with fast food chucked in. Its superb new industrial interior and full-on multiscreen coverage is not the place for an intimate soiree. But it does what it does very well. Service was excellent – amiable, informative and quick. Pricing was keen. And then there were those fries. The trip to Ventnor is worth it for those alone.
This is the full-length version of the review that appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Awesome fries
- Funky ordering system
- Pleasant venue
- Lively sports atmosphere not for everyone!