Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
Archive review: Little Gloster Archive review: Little Gloster
Archive review: Little Gloster

This is an archive review. Little Gloster is now closed. 

There’s definitely some kind of social pecking order out in Cowes, but being from Ryde, Matt and Cat really don’t get it.

Little Gloster

Take Gurnard, for example. Is it a wannabe suburb of the cosmopolitan hub that is Cowes; or is it actually the exclusive enclave that everyone in Cowes wants to escape to? So hard to say, or indeed to care. It’s probably both, depending on whether you’re talking to someone from Cowes or Gurnard. But one thing M&C can say with certainty concerns eateries in Gurnard. They don’t have many, but they’re very keen on the ones they do have.

So when last year a new restaurant opened in the former Outlook Bar, down at Gurnard Marsh, there was a fair buzz. The Little Gloster had some good coverage and got some favourable comments on this site – “You must, Must, MUST visit the Little Gloster on Gurnard Marsh“, enthused Mr Happy; “Delectable from start to finish!“, gushed Wendy V, and many more in the same vein. M&C did actually make a couple of attempts to visit, but got muddled with opening times over the winter, deciding eventually to come for a lunchtime session to be sure of getting it right. That undertaking finally came to fruition when your reviewers, with a couple of friends, made a foray to Gurnard one Sunday lunchtime and put the Little Gloster to the test.

the delicate green broccoli sprouts were a master-class in how to present this much-misused vegetable
Little Gloster

It’s advertised as having a Scandinavian influence, and that’s probably a good job given the unusual building. Now M&C don’t normal extend their reviews to architecture but this one can’t be left to one side. It’s a building that it’s hard to perceive as anything but a yacht club – located by a busy slipway, bracketed by tenders and boaty junk, the fairly utilitarian structure has few windows on the landward side, although it’s been made to look pretty smart. Once the visitor gets through a fairly functional lobby the reason for all this is clear – on the seaward side, the Little Gloster opens up to give panoramic views of the Solent and nearby garden. Huge picture windows surround the diners, with the kitchen and bar area wisely hidden out of the way, creating an excellent, airy, environment.

Having confirmed their booking to the waitress who greeted them, Matt and Cat found a table and settled in, soon joined by one of their dining companions. When the waitress returned to serve drinks, she was happy to leave the threesome to peruse the menu for a little while longer as they waited for the fourth member of the party, who’d been delayed. Very obliging; but once he’d turned up it was another half an hour before the party finally had to flag down a waitress and ask to order.

Little Gloster

The menu was a substantial one for lunchtime. A good range of seafood and specials complemented a decent array on the standard lunch menu. Matt was fully convinced by the roast dinner option, and asked for roast pork with crackling, which was labelled as Isle of Wight produce. Cat, feeling dainty as ever, asked for the Bembridge crab and crayfish fishcake starter to be served as a main – a variation which was readily accommodated.

Waiting for their food the diners chatted and enjoyed the scenery, sneaking a peek too at their fellows at nearby tables. The spacious and open layout means that there is plenty of distance between the diners, but even so M&C couldn’t avoid noticing the statutory table of well-heeled gurglers that seem to be a fixture of any restaurant in the PO31 postcode from April-September. It’s a simple and touching scene that will be familiar to Cowes restaurateurs. An ample young gal adjusts her flimsy frock and simpers at the striped shirt opposite her. He obligingly bellows unlikely intimacies into her ear before the whole table bursts into chortles of delight, waving be-signeted hands for more iced Chardonnay. In fact the whole place had a pleasingly informal but classy feel – it made sense that this was particularly successful as a lunchtime venue, especially given the view.

Matt and Cat’s bill
Crab and crayfish cakes £8.95
Roast pork £15.95
Lemon tart £4.95
Chocolate brownie £5.95
Coffee x 2 £3.90
Total: £39.70

The food, when it made its appearance, was similarly satisfactory. Three mighty slices of pork loin, cooked to a turn, made up Matt’s roast pork special. The vegetables caused expressions of delight, and one of the diners who’d opted for the similarly-served roast beef exclaimed that the carrots were the best she’d ever tasted. Matt could believe it – and the delicate green broccoli sprouts too were a master-class in how to present this much-misused vegetable. And if the gravy that came with it was slightly frugally applied, a request of the waitress brought some more soon enough – she even checked if it was to be pork or beef gravy. And yes, there is a difference. Alas the promised crackling was missing; a further request to the waitress was necessary for it to be produced.

White and dark chocolate brownie

Cat was delighted with her brace of crab and crayfish fishcakes and, having exposed one’s core, insisted on taking a photograph to record just how much seafood was inside. Unlike so many similar offerings, these tasty morsels were not bulked-up with potato and breadcrumbs; they were pretty much chock-full of crustacean. A crisp and fresh watercress salad, anointed with an excellent tangy dressing, plus a little ramekin of dill and creme fraiche set the little cakes off very well.

Although the diners were not in any hurry there was a substantial break between courses. The desserts were worth the wait. Cat chose a lemon tart with blueberry and fruit coulis; the flan was subtly flavoured with a nice creamy texture. Matt enjoyed his warmed white and dark chocolate pecan brownie with vanilla ice cream. Both sweets were beautifully presented, with a comma of sauce here and a brandy-snap sail there; and with coffee were a decent round-off to the meal.

The sun worked its way down over the Solent as the party sat and chatted in the relaxing venue. The merits of horseradish sauce, and how to make your own, was a hot topic (geddit?). Matt rashly declared that he could find a horseradish root growing wild within a hundred metres of the restaurant, but was much relieved when nobody took him up on it, as he realised that at this time of year (spring) he’d have most likely failed miserably.

Eventually Matt and Cat took their leave of the Little Gloster after what proved to be a more-than-satisfactory meal. The cooking brought out the best of the locally-sourced ingredients; the taste and presentation of the food showed great attention to detail. The laid-back atmosphere was conducive to a relaxed dining experience but this casual approach was not so welcome in the intermittent service. Forgiveable, entirely, and even if the place wasn’t the sublime choirs-of-angels experience that some of the more breathless Gurnard groupies had promised: the Little Gloster is undoubtedly worth the visit.
Little Gloster

A great location and atmosphere, with a creative menu offering consistently good food. It also has some very nice accommodation.
  • Excellent menu
  • Wonderful setting and sea views
  • Relaxing ambience
  • Service not the fastest

5 of 5

5 of 5

3 of 5

4 of 5

4 of 5

  • Philip says:

    My wife and I went to the Little Gloster with 2 very good friends last night for a special meal.We arrived and were shown to our table and immediately we all liked the atmosphere of the restaurant,Very tastefully decorated and a nice warm feel.
    The food was very nice .We new that it was not going to be cheap but it was as we expected.Roughly about £40.00 each for 3 courses including drinks.the food was very well presented and very nice.Staff were very nice and the food was served in about the right times between courses.
    The one complaint we all had was the cacophony of sound that pervaded the entire time we were there.The background music was much too loud and was toned down when we asked but even then was too loud.The acoustics were very bad all round .If any one reading this has eaten in the Marks and Spencer’s cafe in Newport one could compare .Just not right !We all 4 of us have in eaten in very good restaurants here and all over the world and we all said we have never experienced the noise we had last night.A shame realty but all in all I would give this restaurant 7 out of 10 but if they improved the sound I would give 9 out of 10.

  • sean says:

    Lunch out to celebrate my chef sons 21st Birthday.

    The Little Gloster was amazing; the service and food top class.

    Thanks to everyone at TLG for a memorable lunch.

  • Stephen says:

    We ate at Little Gloster on 28 December. The food was very good, with particular mention of the chowder, burgers and pear and frangipane tart. I would recommend the restaurant to anyone for the food alone, but the setting is also superb.

  • Sean says:

    Yes great, I saw some pics of the food being prepared as our son is a chef there! I knew you were going so I thought you would have some kind of review.

    I understand the winter set menu returns next week!! Bravo.

  • Sean says:

    I have been waiting for a review at TLG for the Jay Raynor event. Did you forget your pencil? Was it a night off?

    Matt and Cat respond: How about this, Sean? It wasn’t actually a review as the restaurant knew who we were, so we were not writing copious notes. We were just there as ordinary diners like everyone else. And yes, we did pay in full and were glad to!

  • Sean says:

    Reading your latest review (Yarbridge Inn) I agree about kidneys not gracing our menus often enough for us kidney fans…

    We ate at The Little Gloster on Friday from their new winter menu and one of the dishes tried was lamb cooked 3 ways, a lamb and spinach risotto, with sliced lamb, and the most wonderful spicy sautéed kidneys, in a delicious jus, it was nothing short of sublime!

    The ‘arancini’ risotto balls were worth a mention and the french onion soup, but the kidneys were just wow

  • Had a really lovely lunch here today.
    Opted for the Sirloin burger with Gallybanger cheese… was marvelous!
    Would love to come back here and stay the night in the suite upstairs, looks lovely.

  • Robert says:

    Dinner last night was one ofthe best meals we have had on the island. Recommend the shared platter for starters, crab cakes were the highlight. We both had fish, brill for my wife and IOW mackerel for me. Both beautifully cooked. Shared a pear and blueberry frangipani tart, could have a little more bite for my taste. A wine list that has been carefully selected and not over priced. Service was efficient and friendly, could have been a title more knowledgable about what was available and where the food was sourced from. Great location which they make the best of and a thumbs up for the choice of music!

  • Sean says:

    Some time ago here on M&C I stated that the best devilled kidneys I had ever tasted were at The Taverners, being better than those sampled at Gordon Ramseys.

    I would now like to say The Little Gloster has taken the title, had them Friday and they were just so good, as was the rest of our meals.

  • Sean says:

    Had Sunday lunch at TLG and was very, very, impressed.

    It may be a few quid dearer than some places at around £15 for the choice of roasts, but when tucking into IOW Pork, interesting and delicious veg, the best roast potatoes ever tasted (even better than the memory of Nans or so I think) and gravy just to die for.

    It was worth every penny, and the ultimate accolade, we booked to go again soon. Try it or miss out!

  • Wendy V says:

    Friends treated us to a wonderful meal at The Little Gloster last night. I opted for beetroot soup with creme fraiche (beatifully sweet), Gurnard fish fillets (perfectly cooked, with new potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli and a fab sauce), and the apple and blackberry trifle (which looked lovely and was just right, full of flavour and not TOO creamy). Ian equally happy with Bembridge crab and crayfish cakes, pork belly mains, and a knockout dessert of rice pudding with Bourbon whiskey sauce and plum compote. Good job he wasn’t driving! Service was excellent.
    Fresh from The Little Gloster’s appearance on C4’s Four In A Bed B&B showdown this week, I thought it might be busier on a Thursday night, but it was pretty quiet. Excellent meal, happily recommend it.

  • Helen B says:

    I visited The Little Gloster during the busy Cowes Week period. This truly is a fantastic restaurant… Probably the best on the island. I have eaten at quite a few establishments around the world in my time – and this is way up there! I can’t recommend the seafood platter more – it was absolutely delicious. The service was spot on… Attentive, very friendly – yet relaxed. A must visit for any island local – or visitor!

  • dreamalittle says:

    We went to the Little Gloster a few weeks ago and I have to say I wasn’t impressed! The food was ok, though overpriced but the service seriously let it down! I might go back in the hope the service had improved but for the price I’m reticent!

  • ScrappySPJ says:

    I had lunch at the Little Gloster a couple of weeks ago. It certainly didn’t feel roomy during our visit as it was packed (Tuesday lunchtime).

    The New Forest Venison carpaccio was delicious, but only really offers so little sustenance that you should probably treat it as a starter. The caramelised rice pudding dessert was also excellent. Everyone I was with (party of about ten) enjoyed their lunches and had only positive things to say.

    PS. I can also recommend the Veuve Clicquot champange (I can’t comment on the price as thankfully I wasn’t paying the bill!)

  • julie says:

    After a recent trip to little gloster at sunset one evening, i have to say it is my fav restaurant ever. i’ve eaten in many places, many famous tv chef’s restauarant, but this place is far and beyond the best for food, atmosphere and venue!!!

  • Ringo says:

    Went for lunch on Sunday and can report that it is mighty fine: relaxed without being sloppy, and the seafood platter was just right. Big lawn area means that it was good for our little ‘un too, which always helps. Prices reasonable too, for a place that could easily survive by extorting the yachties.

  • We’re not all posh in Cowes you know 🙂

    Glad you like it – I think the food there is great, but find that it’s almost a bit too roomy inside and so lacks a bit of atmosphere….

    However, I’ve eaten sarnies and chips on the lawn at lunchtime (fab) and had a very boozy girls’ evening (where the bottles of wine consumed outnumbered the girls there) – and both were excellent.

    Spot on review.

    *Simper, simper, whilst flicking my luscious ‘Kate of Cambridge’ long locks and twirling my pearl necklace round my fingers…*

  • Dave says:

    Was that another “flippant” remark?

    To quote C.S. Lewis The lowest “Joke of all is Flippancy where the “Joke” is assumed to have been made long ago in shared contmept, so that any serious or virtuous subject can be referred to in a manner that implies- without explanation- that insiders see the ridiculous side. Lewis observes that flippancy is the opposite of joy: ” It deadens, instead of sharpening the intellect and excites no affection between those who practice it.”

  • Dave says:

    Dear Matt and Cat, please advise what is a “breathless Gurnard groupie” It’s not included in my Encyclopaedia of Fish.

    M&C respond: we’ll probably do the next review with subtitles. Or possibly without adjectives altogether. It might be safer.

  • Eileen says:

    Dear Matt and Cat, please advise what a “gurgler” is? I have tried to Google it – to no avail. Is it a detrimental idiom?

    M&C reply: a gurgler, in this context, is one who gurgles. It’s a flippant way to refer to the cheerful noise that emerges from groups of youngsters enjoying a good meal in Cowes. We love the atmosphere of a busy restaurant, so from our point of view it’s quite the opposite of derogatory. We’d encourage good-natured gurgling throughout the Island! 🙂

  • sue lupton says:

    Sorry, might need to retract previous comment. I think you will find
    it was an apostrophe of sauce, not a comma.

  • sue lupton says:

    Spot on, spider man!

  • julie portingale says:

    you reallymust try the little gloster in gurnard just outside cowes. we visited last weekduringour holiday and can honestly say it is one of the best eating experiences we’ve ever had. the food looked and tasted outstanding (especially the pork belly),the staff were polite,accomodating and professional and the sunset looking at to sea was outstanding. reallymatta dn cat you just have to visit and makesure you go at sunset!!!

    Matt and Cat respond: Hi julie, thanks for your comment. We went to the Little Gloster a couple of weeks ago – we’re just putting the finishing touches to our review. Watch this space!

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