Matt and Cat like to think of themselves as ‘of the people’ and, unlike other less popular Island on-line eating out guides (you didn’t...

Matt and Cat like to think of themselves as ‘of the people’ and, unlike other less popular Island on-line eating out guides (you didn’t even know there were any others, did you?), they are happy to try any size of venue from the humble to the salubrious.

Lugley's, Newport

Often they tread somewhere in the middle but, for this evening, after their week at the coalface they wiped off the sooty residue and headed somewhere posh.

Having had an excellent experience at Burrs, they felt it was time to visit nearby Lugley’s, particularly as there had been several requests from readers for a review.

Thai salmon cakes

Thai salmon cakes

This historic building in one of Newport’s pretty red brick side streets exudes Georgian charm. Matt and Cat peered through the windows and liked what they saw: a comfy sofa for pre- or post-dinner relaxing, an impressive sweeping staircase and a beautifully laid out dining room, in which they soon found themselves.

Allowed to choose their own table (unlike La Scala where they were led to a place by the toilets), Matt and Cat positioned themselves at a table for two by the lofty bow window, which offered views through a grape vine across a delightful garden to a swaying eucalyptus tree. In the day, this lawned oasis is probably a delightful place to have lunch, but on the evening that M and C visited, black clouds percolated overhead – suggesting a Cowes firework night downpour.

A brace of pinkish balls sat in a puddle of orangey sauces, like twin suns in a russet sky. It tasted fantastically tangy and fresh.

Outside may have been windy and overcast but, inside, the recessed lighting and pastoral music provided a peaceful backdrop to the arduous task of choosing something to eat from the small but most enticing menu. When forking out for a top of the range feed, Matt and Cat like to push the boat out and will usually have a starter. Whilst they were pondering this the waitress politely came across to read the specials to her guests, and also advised them that the fine green beans, baby tomatoes and dolcelatte cream cheese dressing starter was off as there were no tomatoes in the kitchen. This didn’t matter as your reviewers had by then set their hearts on Thai salmon cakes, cool rouilles and cucumber spaghetti. The accommodating waitress was also able to find out which of sea bass and Dover sole was likely to be the least bony, as Cat was girding herself up to have a rare stab at fish for her main course (having heard a whisper that some readers of this website were tired of her default choices of fillet steak and chicken). Matt, ever the red meat man, took very little time to choose honey and soy glazed lamb rump slices, sweet potatoes with mango and chilli salsa.

Dover sole

Dover sole

Whilst waiting for their starter, some welcome warmed ciabatta arrived. Chipping away at the rock-hard butter, Matt tried to impress Cat with his knowledge of cheesy classical music, spotting Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, Bach’s Air on a G String and a twiddle of Vivaldi before the CD was ejected to be replaced by Dido‘s slightly less welcome soporific trilling. Much like Sade in the 1980’s, Dido is the perfect music to talk over.

Glazed lamb

Glazed lamb

The arrival of the starter turned your reviewers’ attention away from the aural wallpaper and towards the gustatory pleasure of the Thai salmon fish cakes, which were superb. A brace of pinkish balls sat in a puddle of orangey sauces, like twin suns in a russet sky. This magnificent display was topped with strings of cucumber and folds of pickled ginger. It tasted fantastically tangy and fresh. The salmon was piping hot and oozing juices, and the cool rouille sauces were the perfect accompaniment. This ideal appetiser was soon devoured by the hungry and appreciative Matt and Cat and boded well for the rest of the meal.

The next course was equally well-presented. Cat’s Dover sole flopped across a bed of new potatoes, while three sharpened chunky asparagus spears provided a splash of green. Matthew’s modest portion of glazed lamb rump slices was accompanied by a Jenga-like scaffold of sweet potato chips, and a few chunks of mango and raw chilli which presumably passed for salsa. Matt’s jaw fell open, not just at the presentation – which was a work of art – but at the titchiness of the portion and the dish’s lack of vegetables.

The waitress could tell that something was amiss – probably when Matt rather bluntly said “Is that it?”. She offered to bring a bowl of veg (at extra cost) to the table. Her offer was accepted but, once again, Matt and Cat were disappointed by this archaic practice of charging extra for vegetables. Having studied the menu carefully, they thought they had chosen meals that came with veg; other items certainly did. And, after the waitress’s helpful comments about the starter and the boniness of the fish, Matt and Cat thought she really should have realised what was going to happen, and said something when she took their order. However, before long, a piping bowl of courgette slices, French beans, and assorted other legumes was delivered.

The culinary equivalent of an unexpected blow to the back of the head with a shovel

Cat had rudely started on her entirely bone-free Dover sole before all of Matt’s meal had been delivered. The flat fish’s white flakes fell pleasingly away from its skin and the buttery lemon sauce added a contrasting tang. It was an extremely tasty dish and certainly filling enough for Cat.

After the brief pause awaiting the arrival of the extra veg, Matt tucked into the four slices of very lean and tasty glazed roast lamb. The meat was delicious and the sweet potato chips were a good accompaniment, although at just under a pound a chip a few more would not have gone amiss. However the surprise of the dish was still in store for Matt – the mango and chilli salsa. This was a new one on Matt, salsa for him normally coming in pots marked ‘Doritos’. But, keen not to show his ignorance, he gamely took a mouthful of what he had by now forgotten was nothing but mango accompanied by raw chilli. Yes, friends, a mouthful of raw chilli. The culinary equivalent of an unexpected blow to the back of the head with a shovel. Possibly more educated palettes would find a way to reconcile this unusual taste sensation with the delightfully mellow roast lamb and gentle sweet potato: Matt, on the other hand, turned purple and reached for the carafe. Once he’d recovered his composure, the remainder of the chilli was discarded.

Matt and Cat’s bill
Starter: Thai salmon cakes £6.50
Main: lamb rump £17.95
Main: Dover sole £17.95
Vegetables £2.95
Pint of John Smith’s £3.00

Subsequent research suggests that the raw chilli in salsa is sometimes tempered by a dressing, cut smaller, or sometimes cooked. Whilst salsa normally implies a sauce of some sort, one can’t help but admire the bold starkness of this rendition. But it’s a courageous step indeed to make your salsa with sizeable chunks of unmitigated red chilli – and it’s a step Matt thought Lugley’s could have foregone.

All too soon this delightful meal was at an end. The plates were metaphorically licked clean (apart from the chilli and the fish skin) and the waitress cleared up promptly. Although the ambience was relaxing and ideal for an extended evening, Matt and Cat didn’t chose to see the offered sweet menu or have coffee on the comfy sofa. However, they were given tiny squares of chocolate tiffin cake and the bill. Fifty pounds covered the cost of the food and drinks and, judging by the quality and flavour of the meal, it was money well spent. For a delightful meal in peaceful surroundings, Matt and Cat are pleased to recommend Lugley’s.
Lugley’s, Newport

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  • D Barber

    13th August 2014 #1 Author

    I have just returned from a mid-week lunch at Lugleys and felt compelled to leave a review. I ordered the deli-size portion of Tiger Prawn salad with sweet chilli salsa – when it arrived I was left wondering where the rest of it was – at £7.50 that meant it was £2.50 a prawn, and by the time I had removed the head, shell and tail I was left with literally 3 mouthfuls of food (and very sticky fingers as the promised finger bowl hadn’t arrived). While I realise I ordered the deli size the addition of some bread and butter with it would have made a much more reasonable meal – I had to go to Boots on the way home and buy a sandwich as I was still hungry. Such a shame – I appreciate fine dining and I know that portion sizes are not always huge, but this was ridiculous – I won’t be eating there again.

    Reply

  • suzieq

    21st June 2012 #2 Author

    We went to lugleys last weekend as friends had reccommended it to us, We found the practice of being shown to a side room to peruse the menus very odd, especially as the tables were completely laid up in the restaurant, The service was excellent but like other reviewers thw portions were very small and there were no veggies ( and I love my veggies) The food was ok but three occupied tables at 8.30 on a saturday night does not bode well for their future(by comparison Burrs is always packed), We had starters and mains and a bottle of ok wine, but I feel over £80 a bit steep, Will stick to the lovely Burrs in future

    Reply

  • Adam White

    16th August 2011 #3 Author

    My wife and I went to this restaurant early one evening in mid July.We had just had some good news and wanted to eat out.

    To be honest we were going to Burrs just along the road but they were closed for their summer holidays.

    We were early it was about 6.30pm and we were the only diners.
    This was not a problem.

    We ordered a bottle of the house white wine so we could have a drink whilst chosing our meal.

    The waitress soon returned with our chosen wine and dumped it on the table and left without asking us if we would like to taste it or offering to pour it for us.

    We both chose the pate to start and it was fine although the marlboro toast was very thick and a good test for our aging teeth.

    The Risotto my wife chose was overly soggy and tasted a little strange and most of it had to be left.

    My pork dish was ruined by being covered in a very creamy sauce and the meat was dry.;

    We decided to call it a day.

    We should have complained I know and usually would have normaly but didn’t want to ruin our evening

    Back to Burrs next time

    Reply

  • Carol

    24th January 2009 #4 Author

    My friend and I visited Lugley’s on a Tuesday evening. We were celebrating. Our meal was hot, served well and just the right amount. The service was excellent and professional. Will go again for another special occasion.

    However, the guy on the table next to us did rather spoil the ambiance by using his laptop at his table.

    Reply

  • tim

    5th January 2009 #5 Author

    i took my wife to lugleys for her birthday.it was our 1st and last visit. i dont think the chef had heard of salt and pepper and the portions were tiny not cheapeither . dont get me wrong i dont mind paying but when you get home you have to have a sandwich it does not bode well

    Reply

  • James P

    27th August 2008 #6 Author

    I have had nice food in Lugleys, but I do concur with Matt’s comment: “is that it?” when seeing some of the dishes. It just adds to the pretentiousness of descriptions in French (e.g. ‘jus’ instead of ‘gravy’) or swirls of sauce on the plate to disguise the fact that you’re getting two teaspoons of it instead of a decent helping. I want to eat the stuff, not admire the chef’s dexterity!

    I realise that Lugley’s isn’t the sole (pun intended) or even worst, offender in this regard, but if I leave a restaurant hungry, I am not tempted to return.

    For the record, I am not a glutton or a fat b*stard – the last time I checked, I weighed ten stone five.

    Reply

  • Jason Meaning

    22nd August 2008 #7 Author

    Have eaten there several times and never had a bad meal, or poor service. Excellent.

    Reply

  • Shirley V

    21st August 2008 #8 Author

    I have lunched here at least 5 times over the past 12 months and cannot fault the meals I have eaten. My taste buds now rise up if I even pass the place and I have taken three seperate friends there for birthday treats.
    Wish someone would treat me to dinner…

    Reply

  • sharon harcourt

    15th August 2008 #9 Author

    We are regular visitors to this restaurant and have always had a great meal, polite service and a good experience whether inside or in the lovely garden in the summer. The good thing about the garden is that it always appears well cared for and the tables and chairs are clean. Additionally it does not appear to be being used (as some outside spots on the Island are) as a huge informal depository for fag ends!

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