It’s a truth universally acknowledged that British people regulate their lives around meal times. Breakfast is essential, according to Dr Kellog and the Egg Marketing Board, which cannily boosted sales of the ovoid foodstuff with Fay Weldon‘s famous ‘Go to Work on an Egg‘ slogan. And, throughout the day, the shovelling in continues until suppertime, which can be supplemented with a milky drink and biscuit before bed.
Sunday lunch is one of those landmark meals which some people won’t do without. Cat is frankly roast-indifferent, though this is clearly a minority view judging by our bulging in-box – we know that many of you are very keen on a roast with all its ubiquitous but unspecified ‘trimmings’. We are nothing if not inclusive in our desire to satisfy our readership and, so it was, that we found ourselves in Shalfleet’s New Inn for an early lunchtime sitting one spring Sunday.
The New Inn was famous for its status as the AA pub of the year banner-wielder. With several changes of hands since our last visit, we were keen to discover how – if at all – things had altered.
The pub used to have a solid reputation for mussels and the like. The current menu is more pub-grubby than fish-dishy due, in part, to the variable availability of fresh local seafood. It mattered not as, on a Sunday, the roast is the main event. The choice of meats were all red, but rather temptingly described: blushing roast topside of beef, garlic and rosemary leg of lamb, and pork belly with crackling. We plumped for this latter option, plus a mushroom wellington which was the pub’s concession to both vegetarians and vegans.
2 x roast @ £18 £36
2 x pudding @ £7 £14
As an aside, vegetarians are being fed the short straw these days, with their dietary foibles being leapfrogged to accommodate the purely plant-based community. Sure not all vegans can eat vegetarian food, but all veggies can eat vegan. But where are the eggs, butter and creamy dishes? Wherefore art the ice cream and custard? And don’t tell us that ‘cheeze’ is the same as cheese.
We need not have pined for our dairy intake. Although the mushroom wellington had been substituted for an equally plant-based red pepper, tomato and butternut squash iteration, the comprehensive vegetable side dish array included a banging cauliflower cheese, tangy with mustard grains.
The star of the show was the crackling which came alongside the portion of pork belly; it was great – crackly AND chewy. The piece of pork was fifty percent fat/meat ratio, but leaner meats were available or, as mentioned above, you could go completely animal fat-free with the sweet vegetable wellington. Each dinner came with its own jug of stock, though Cat donated hers to a gravy-loving dining companion on condition she got to scrape out the saucy remnants of the cauliflower cheese dish.
Rising to the occasion on each warmed plate, was a blousey Yorkshire pudding.The root vegetables had been cooked to perfection; soft and yielding, rather than firm enough to sgraffito with (yes, we have been served such woefully-undercooked parsnips). Red cabbage added to the colour-mix; tenderstem broccoli was infused with a delightful chargrilled flavour, and we fought over the crispy roast potatoes. In fact, one of the party forwent a dessert, preferring to finish off the dish of roasties (yes, there were enough spares).
For those who had not peaked at the first course, there was pudding. A vertical slice of bread and butter if you so wish, served with gentle vanilla creme anglaise. Cat enjoyed the house Pavlova. The plate was scattered with tiny studs of thawing raspberry drupelets. As tradition dictates it was accompanied with chantilly cream; the sparky fruit providing a decent sour note to the dessert’s sweetness. It was an attractive and tasty pudding.
We enjoyed our lunch at the New Inn. The service was homely, and the ambiance friendly. It was nice to have a corner table where we could hear ourselves talk, accompanied by the crunch of the crackling, unlike some of the barn-like venues filled with effervescent diners upping the decibels. We went looking for fish, and stayed for Sunday roast and suggest you do too.
This is the full-length version of the review that appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press.