There are those who say that the Isle of Wight is stuck in a time warp. If they visit Sandown, these suspicions may be confirmed. Alongside the gift emporiums, crimpolene frock shops, beachware retailers and chippies, are many cafés for visitors who only bought ‘half-board’ in one of the many seaside hotels. One of these is Kate (or Kate’s) Cottage, an eatery which evokes memories of rainy Sunday afternoons in seaside towns in the mid-1970s, when eating out was a special treat.
Matt and Cat went there for tea (or ‘dinner’ for the middle classed amongst you, who – to be honest – are unlikely to want to eat at Kate’s). With inviting blackboards describing simple dishes such as omelette and chips, or all day breakfasts, your reviewers found Kate Cottage alluring enough to tempt them through the door. Even before entry diners will know that the menu is very competitively priced, as might be expected in a street where every other establishment is a café with menus and special offer prices hung prominently in the windows.
The décor at Kate’s is beyond tired and almost (but not quite) achieves a themed mid-20th century seaside chic. The padded vinyl menus are a relic of a bygone era and the variable branding (Is it Kate Cottage or Kate’s Cottage? Or maybe just Kate’s?) was not off-putting. If anything, these features added to the atmosphere of the place. The waitress was busy but not unfriendly and was happy to explain items from the menu. A pot of tea for two and a glass of iced water were quickly delivered followed shortly by the meals.
Cat chose mushroom omelette and chips which came with a pleasant salad garnish, complete with yellow peppers and thankfully no raw onion. The omelette was freshly cooked, although the mushrooms might have been of a different vintage. It was pleasant nonetheless, although the chips could have been cooked just a little bit longer to make the transition from ‘ok’ to ‘excellent’.
Matthew had haddock and chips with similar garnish. It was acceptable, but not brilliant – the fish had a few bones and the chips were, again, slightly undercooked.
However, the tea was nice and there was enough in the pot for two cups each. Whilst enjoying their meal, Matt and Cat entertained themselves by looking around the cafe at the quaint old electrical appliances and the big dollies with their pram in the window. Also, M and C’s window seat provided a ringside view of sunburnt and tattooed people wending their way back from the beach, as well as doughty pensioners in their Sunday best out for an evening stroll. The café was pretty busy with holiday makers, some of whom were puffing away on their ciggies – bring on the smoking ban.
For an convenient and reasonably priced eating experience in an environment preserved from the 1970s, Kate Cottage is a pretty reliable bet. If it’s nouvelle cuisine and matching cutlery you’re after, your lofty ambition might be better taken elsewhere.