This is an archive review. The Octopus Garden is now closed. John Lennon, as featured on the door of the Gents (with modesty spared...

This is an archive review. The Octopus Garden is now closed.

John Lennon

John Lennon, as featured on the door of the Gents
(with modesty spared by Matt and Cat),
looking rather like the Island’s very own Jack Douglas?

The Octopus Garden Cafe in Cowes started life as a museum of Beatles memorabilia collected by Trevor Macneill. With its yellow submarine counter, excellent pictures, artefacts and other and memorabilia of the fab four – and even cheeky John and Yoko pictures on the toilet doors, there’s no mistaking the cafe’s theme.

It’s another one of those cafes where one thing has tried to become another: much like Studio in Newport. One might imagine a Beatles-themed cafe to be full of beatniks and poets, long-hairs and psychedelic groovers, languidly sipping espressos. However – probably because of the Octopus Garden’s proactive child-friendly policy (there’s a great kids menu and a children’s corner full of toys) – on the day Matt and Cat visited it was chock full of families; yummy mummies with their designer offspring, making enough happy noise to drown out the Beatles music warbling in the background.

Cat, who was feeling a bit under the weather, was determined to have soup and, fortunately for her, the soup of the day was a delicious and thick spicy tomato offering which came with an entire fresh baguette, sliced for convenience. Matt, predictably, opted for bacon, egg, sausage and chips. Both had a mug of tea. Oddly, the tea came with milk in a jug, but no pot: the tea was already in the mugs. Good for those who want to get just the right amount of milk in their brew.

Bacon, egg, sausage and chips

Bacon, egg, sausage and chips

The service at the Octopus Garden was very good, and informally friendly. From their seat in the thick of it Matt and Cat could see the busy staff dashing around, and being on hand mostly to deal sympathetically with the multitude of little crises and demands that a visit to a cafe with under-5s inevitably brings. They also had time to serve the grown-ups with a smile.

The food was pretty good. Cat was revived by her substantial soup, and Matt enjoyed the basic fry-up which was all hot, freshly-cooked and of decent quality. Although the menu advertised 2 eggs, he only got one, but really, one was probably better for him anyway.

Despite the interesting mop-top memorabilia and the lovely food, the Octopus Garden Cafe seems a little at odds with its clientèle. Did Mr Macneill envisage such a busy and obviously popular cafe, where his precious artefacts had maybe become incidental to the punters’ enjoyment? Or are the Beatles simply promotional tools, primarily appealing to children with their cartoon alter-egos from Yellow Submarine? It probably doesn’t matter. Matt and Cat thought the place was lively, fun and good value for money – and is especially recommended for families with younger children.

This is an archive review. The Octopus Garden is now closed.
Archive review: Octopus Garden Cafe, Cowes