Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
After a shopping trip to Ryde’s French Market, from which they came away laden with cheese and sausages, Matt and Cat wandered down Union...

After a shopping trip to Ryde’s French Market, from which they came away laden with cheese and sausages, Matt and Cat wandered down Union Street in search of somewhere new to eat. Yes, even after 120+ reviews there still are places in Union Street that have yet to enjoy Matt and Cat’s scrutiny. Today it was the turn of Kasbah, the Moroccan Cafe-Bar.

The first time M & C essayed a review at Kasbah, it had just that moment experienced a flood from upstairs, and bowls and pans were set around the bar and floor to catch the onslaught. The doughty staff welcomed them in nonetheless, but your reviewers retreated elsewhere. This time there was no flood, just the gentle world music tinkling in the background, a welcoming table of Sunday papers, and a splendid view over the Solent out of the open front door.

Certainly, Kasbah has managed to create a very unusual environment in what was, not too long ago, a traditional town pub. The Moroccan theme is comprehensively exploited, even extending to their impressive website (complete with annoyingly un-turn-off-able Dead Can Dance samples). But would the food measure up? Outside, a sign proudly claimed ‘Full Menu Served All Day’, and indeed a comprehensive list of tapas-type food along with a good number of more substantial meals were on offer. Cat, having just had her breakfast, had no capacity for a meal so she asked for a pot of tea, whilst Matt – able to eat at any time of day or night, chose baked potato with bacon, with a pint of bitter shandy to wash it down. Bizarrely, the server offered this with Strongbow – Matt declined this and chose instead the more conventional John Smiths.

Kasbah, Ryde (c) Debs Allen

There then followed a longish wait, during which time the elegantly-dressed young ladies behind the bar didn’t quite find time to clean the rather crumby table, but which did allow Matt and Cat to soak up some more of the very relaxing atmosphere, and read the Sunday magazines. The promised potato did eventually materialise, but the drinks didn’t. Upon enquiry, the waitress apologised, and soon a brimming pint appeared. There was still no sign of the tea. A further gentle reminder was necessary before the full order was delivered.

The potato was a big disappointment. Although of a reasonable size, it was simply a microwaved spud split down the middle. Prepacked butter was available, but the potato itself came adorned with nothing whatsoever. It was not even browned-off in the oven, but had that characteristically dry and pallid texture that only a good microwaving can impart. Alongside was served the stars of the dish – two big sizzling rashers of delicious freshly cooked smoked bacon. To garnish came some limp and browned iceberg lettuce with tomatoes with salad dressing. Overall, not really good enough. Cat’s tea, by contrast, was quite serviceable. Alas there was no pot – it came in a mug with the teabag inside but, as consolation, a big jug of fresh milk came with it; the tea seemed to hit the spot.

Kasbah was a great place to relax, with splendid atmosphere in a great location. Probably ideal for a quiet drink with friends. But food – well, perhaps they haven’t quite sorted that bit out yet. Matt and Cat were left feeling rather glad that they had not ventured onto the main menu and tested the Kasbah’s promises which included moules mariniere, Moroccan chicken, or battered cod. Frankly, if they can’t pull off a baked spud the prospect of these fancier meals does not appeal.
Kasbah, Ryde

  • Unhappy customer says:

    On our visit to Kasbah recently, were incredibly disappointed.

    There was no menus around so we went to the bar and asked for one, where they looked puzzled, faffed aound, and told us they didnt have any, we’d have to all gather round the blackboard.

    5 mins later they’d found a menu.

    Food arrived fairly promply, but we had to send one plate back straight away as it was cold in the middle.

    The plates stated they would come with ‘garnish’ ‘lemon’ ‘tartar sauce’ etc but nothing came with them, so we started to squeeze out the packet mayo, went to eat it some and spat it out. Not a good look in the middle of eating. The mayo had gone off, by a fair bit. It made me reach. So we tried the packet tartar sauce. Same problem, it smelt vile.

    To top it all off, one of the meatballs had a bit of plastic in it. Not strictly Kasbahs fault, as nothing is handmade, it is ‘supermarket bought’ but complaints could be dealt with better.

    After all the drama, Kasbah did give us a full refund.

    I am incredibly disappointed with Kasbah. It is a great quirky pub, with a fairly niche menu, but they cant pull it off at all at the moment, which is a shame.

    Sorry Kasbah

  • Lauren Bennett says:

    I would just like to say that Kasbah has been taken over by new ownership since these reviews were written and has changed considerably.

    We would like to welcome you back to see if you notice any difference!

    Kasbah Management.

  • passer-by says:

    Having not read this review we were in Ryde at lunchtime last week and popped in the Kasbah for a snack (as we were waiting for someone off the ferry and were planning lunch then). The place was pretty empty, but with all the prime tables having what looked like paperwork on them, so we retreated into the back. Our deep fried snacks took half an hour to arrive (they were apparently short staffed!) but were nice when they arrived.

    Would not go again because of the unwelcoming feel and slow service.

  • kj says:

    It may be for sale and in a prime position, but at the price they are asking, it may be a while before it changes hands

  • Vicki & John says:

    We visited the Kasbah early one evening just before Christmas as Witherspon’s was packed. It was empty but the service from behind the bar very friendly and we got our drinks at once and sat at a clean table. I ordered prawns and crab cakes both of which turned up quite quickly and the potato dish my friend had looked great. We cleared the lot and thoroughly enjoyed it and I can assure you felt no ill effects after. I was looking forward to going again this week but because of the bad reviews my friends are worried. Obviously we did not see Hotel rooms and I believe the place is now for sale so new owners may improve this. However I have to say what good value I considered our food was, how goood the service was and what a lovely atmosphere.

  • Lee says:

    I had the misfortune to eat at the Kasbah a few weeks ago, and I’ll never do it again. I ordered ‘Morroccan Chicken’ which was brought to the table after a half-hour wait and it was still cold in the centre. The accompanying sauce tasted like tarted-up hamburger relish. Surely it can’t take 30 minutes to undercook a meal in a microwave? Ooops, apparently it can.

  • Sarah James says:

    Well we had the tapas (yes we went before reading your reviews). And as tapas goes it was ok. The dishes were about £3 each and could have been smaller. The potatas bravas was like fried cubes of potatoes with a slightly spicy tomato relish on top, the chorizo was ok, breaded whitebait was alright ( not my choice) and the fried octopus was heavily covered in breadcrumbs and looked like chips although tasted lighter than it looked. Falafel was decent with a nice chilli dip (bottled no doubt) and the fish cakes were oriental type – quite nice. However it was ALL deep fried. Every single thing. Now this may be down to our choice, but the fish cakes were too greasy, as was the falafel, which is usually quite a dry dish. The interior was nicely done, but I agree – for a drink only. I was a bit surprised that they had tapas, main meals, a snack menu – all day. Who stands in the kitchen all day just to cook for a couple of passers by? I can’t believe it’s a Morroccan chef – not at that standard. Sorry Kasbah.

  • Kate says:

    I’ve only eaten there once. And I got food poisoning (yes, it was the food, I wasn’t drinking).

  • daisy says:

    Going off the topic a bit, but we stayed at the Kasbah earlier this year, and the ‘relaxed’ attitude of the staff that you are referring to easily made it the very worst place we’ve ever stayed. It was filthy, and coming down to breakfast to eat at a sticky dirty table with an overflowing ashtray was the pits. The owners obviously have ambitions well past their limited abilities, and the website is full of lies – sea view my a***, and they don’t mention that it’s over a busy bar that plays loud music until past 2am. God knows how we managed to leave without contracting a hideous illness, it was so unclean. You’d have to pay me a substantial amount of money ever to set foot in the place again.

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