Monroe’s is now closed. Matt and Cat have never eaten in McDonald’s, Newport. They’re not averse to fast food, in fact they’re loving KFC...

Monroe’s is now closed.

Monroe's

Matt and Cat have never eaten in McDonald’s, Newport. They’re not averse to fast food, in fact they’re loving KFC (occasionally); Matt has been known to feed his kids at the Wimpey. However, with so many great little cafes, sandwich bars, pubs and restaurants to try, the Maccy D’s experience will have to wait.

And today was no exception. Cat, in town on a social errand, chose to meet her friend in Monroe’s Cafe, a gherkin’s throw from the aforementioned hamburger haven.

This pleasant cafe is nestled within a community of local shops which service many needs – a butcher, a baker, a rhythm-stick maker. However, on this drizzly day there was not time to meander; Cat and her companion bounded into the cafe and, taking a brief moment to glance around the downstairs seating area, hoofed it upstairs, lured by the sight of the cake-filled counter. Although the cafe was pretty busy, there was room for the pair at a table with an elevated view of the street. Having peeled off coats and scarves, they settled down to peruse the menu.

Cakes!

Cakes!

There was plenty to choose from and all pretty wholesome stuff. The menu offered panninis, baps and baguettes with tasty sounding fillings from fish, cheese, salad and meat. A good-looking selection of quiches and pies flaunted themselves next to the cakes in the chiller cabinet. Hot snacks, such as soup, burgers, ‘lite bites’ and the ubiquitous baked potatoes were also on offer.

Baked potato with chilli

Baked potato with chilli

Cat looked at the menu then tottered over to the blackboard to study the sandwich selection. As well as the wall-sized menus, Cat couldn’t help but notice the staffs’ hygiene certificates proudly on display next to the council’s Environmental Health department’s five star ‘Score on the Door‘. Then it was back to the table to check out the printed menu, mentally flicking through the many choices. “Mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwich”, Cat finally proclaimed to the patient lady behind the counter, “and a cup of tea”.

Regular readers will know that Matt and Cat use various standard items to benchmark their reviews: cream tea, the all-day breakfast, fillet steak and a cup of tea. Some venues fail miserably when it comes to serving tea others, like Monroe’s, pass with flying cuppas – tea served in a pot with a jug of fresh milk and a cup and saucer – it’s what the Empire was built on.

A giant potato overflowing with chilli, like a tuber volcano spewing its meaty magma

Cat and her friend twittered away about hairstyles, bearded ladies and a proposed trip to the mainland to see the Mighty Boosh. Before they’d got on to the subject of sprout jhalfrazi, the lunch arrived. Cat’s friend took delivery of a giant potato overflowing with chilli, like a tuber volcano spewing its meaty magma, with a side salad. It was proclaimed to be very good although there were some mutterings about the toughness of the spud’s skin but it all got eaten none-the-less.

Mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwich

Mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwich

Cat’s more modest mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwich was also served with side salad and plain crisps. Cat is a regular eater of mozzarella, finding the soft white cheese – slightly damp from its bath of whey – a good ingredient for carbonara. The ‘mozzarella’ in her sarnies at Monroe’s had a curious texture, much more akin to a firmer mild Dutch cheese like Edam or Leerdammer (but without the holes or nutty flavour). The sandwich’s plentiful fresh tomatoes were chopped up and sprinkled with dried basil – not the fresh torn leaves Cat was anticipating. However, even with her doubts about the authenticity of the cheese, the food was lovely.

The prompt service left Cat and her friend plenty of time for gossiping whilst they ate their lunch. Unfortunately there was not quite enough time to eat one of the spectacular-looking cakes they had spied on their way up the stairs.

To conclude: Monroe’s has good tea, friendly staff, a lovely environment (probably even more so on the terrace in the summer), and a vast selection of wholesome fresh food. Go there.

Monroe’s is now closed.

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