Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
House, Cowes House, Cowes
House, Cowes

Look, let’s just jump in and say it. To eat out at a place like this costs a lot of money, and like most folk we don’t do it very often. So we really want to know we will be getting good value, and that’s what reviews are for. No, don’t thank us all at once. Read on first, see if you’re getting your money’s worth out of us too.

Opening in autumn 2023, House is a High Street venue fronted by chef Matt Egan, late of the Royal Hotel, Ventnor. In 2022 we enjoyed his launch of ‘Se7en’ at The Royal and said we were “thrilled by these intricate and stimulating dishes”. We were keen to see if Egan had brought his flair for crafting complex and innovative plates a few miles north to Cowes – spoiler: he definitely has.

A whiff of aromatic smoke drifted from the open kitchen as we watched our BBQ scallop starters made – and then with a nod to the theatre of food, the glass-covered dishes were opened before us, allowing a few wisps of smoky goodness to waft across the table. A trio of pale scallops dwelt within, swaddled in a luxurious Jerusalem artichoke beurre blanc. Tiny crayfish and fragments of onion made a fascinating and unctuous combination.

Curried monkfish tail was another seafood starter that worked splendidly. Slabs of crisp yet sweet beetroot supported the big bone-in monkfish tail that was soft and rich with curry spices. Frozen grapes, sea herbs, a thai coconut sauce, and some bright green tenderstem made this a visual as well as culinary delight.

Our maple pork tenderloin was a deceptive dish that had a secret to be discovered. The soft, perfectly pink pork was scattered with sweetly-caramelised onion and licked with herb emulsion. It tasted good, but seemed surprisingly straightforward – until under a slice of charred celeriac root we found a nugget of the most powerful sweet bacon jam we’ve ever had. Smeared across the pork slices, this smoky condiment was ridiculously effective.

Matt and Cat’s bill
(Total includes a 20% January discount)
BBQ Scallop £14.00
Curried monkfish £14.00
Pork tenderloin £26.00
Sea bass £27.00
Maple-glazed new potatoes £5
Mille feuille £11.00
TOTAL: £77.60

Sea bass is not a surprise on any menu, but of course in Egan’s hands there were plenty of unusual things to explore. A smooth black garlic aioli and a sprinkle of salsa verde provided contrasting tastes and textures for four massive hunks of gnocchi. Slices of spicy chorizo lay over the fish, its crispy skin concealing the classic white sea bass experience.

For dessert we shared a little cocoa mille-feuille which was more of a savoury than a sweet; with a cocoa-nib ice cream and black sesame wafers all held together by a rich liquorice-root sauce.

So, good value? Actually better than you’d think. Let’s compare House with Thompsons. The experience was similarly well-curated – great service, a comfortable and informal venue, splendid open kitchen and a chance to watch some truly skilled chefs at work.

With essentially the same price on the menu, House doesn’t offer the charming bonus courses you get at Thompsons; in fact side dishes cost extra. On the other hand the Cowes venue offered a seasonal discount because it was January, making it cheaper than Thompsons when we visited. So it’s probably broadly comparable value.

Matt Egan is doing some interesting and exciting work in this new venue, and we expect there will be plenty more to come. If you want a truly outstanding meal out – and you don’t mind paying for it – this is one of our top recommendations.

This is the full-length version of the review first published in the Isle of Wight County Press

01983 301103

If you want a truly outstanding meal out – and you don’t mind paying for it – this is one of our top recommendations.
  • Complex and innovative dishes
  • Incredible bacon jam
  • Surprisingly good value
  • Side dishes cost extra

5 of 5

5 of 5

3 of 5

4 of 5

3 of 5

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