It’s been a while. Let’s be honest and say that when we last visited Morrison’s cafe in Newport, our experience was memorable, and the subsequent review involved the words ‘horrible’, and ‘groll’. So it took fourteen years before we worked up the courage to try it again.
Needing a quick bite in Newport, and finding all the usual venues either closed or full, by necessity Morrison’s it was. It turned out to have pulled itself together since 2007.
At the time of our visit, Morrisons, like many other venues, was in that awkward halfway position of having made itself fully COVID-compliant, only to see most of its customers ignore the now-voluntary restrictions. Masks were advised, but nobody was wearing them. An online ordering facility allowed app-based table service, but if anybody was doing that, we didn’t see it. So we queued up at the servery, just like old times.
The set-up in Morrison’s is cheerfully and unapologetically canteen-like. A gleaming stack of stainless-steel teapots invited us to fill them from the nearby hot water machine, which once upon a time we could have called an urn, when it wasn’t capable of emitting hot chocolate or cappuccino. Drinks placed on the tray, we shuffled along the line and slowly approached the jolly lady at the till who took the hot food orders.
One thing hadn’t changed in the cafe since our last visit – the soundscape. Over the bustle of the busy supermarket nearby, a faint and unceasing jangling could be heard on the PA system. Some kind of music was being piped in, and intermittently there were unintelligible staff announcements that sounded like NASA’s transmissions from the moon. We could discern a few wisps of late-twentieth century radio hits if we listened carefully. The whole aural effect was abstract and distinctly retro.
Full English breakfast £5.95
Extra breakfast items £2.55
Pot of tea £1.45
We went for the full breakfast. For his, Matt declined beans, yet he found to his pleasure other options for only 85p each – so with added hash brown, black pudding and tomato he unashamedly pushed the reasonably priced £5.95 brekkie into the premium cost zone. There was no 85p refund for the beans, we noted.
We found ourselves a nice window seat that had the classic Morrison’s view of the closed ATS garage and stationary traffic, over a dismal scattering of purple slate landscaping and discarded fast-food wrappers. Our friendly till operator had cautioned that there would be a twenty minute wait for the food, which we had no problem with, especially as it actually turned up after only ten minutes. It’s always good to be told of potential delays, and it’s even better when expectations are then exceeded.
The breakfast was a good one. We approved of the big slab of hot toast which came with nicely softened butter, not those terrible refrigerated pats. It would have been perfect for soaking up the egg yolk if that hadn’t been pre-broken, but it sufficed to swab down the scene of the crime. The single large mushroom was particularly good: fresh, moist and with just a hint of searing to the edges, it tasted perfect. Without the 85p upgrades the breakfast would have been on the modest side; but as it was, there was plenty. You can even go back to refill your teapot if you’ve got the nerve to do so.
Morrison’s is much improved since our last visit. It has a pre-millennial aura about it that’s hard to define, and strangely comforting. The food is reasonably priced, and the service is very positive. We wouldn’t recommend going there for a special occasion, or to impress a date; but for a quick bite to eat when needs must, you could do a lot worse.
This is the full-length version of the review first published in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Decent toast
- Perfect mushroom
- Quick service