Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
In the 1930s, hard times were known as the depression; this term was, however, just too – well… depressing, so the next round of...

In the 1930s, hard times were known as the depression; this term was, however, just too – well… depressing, so the next round of fiscal doom was rebranded as a recession.

Baskets of fruit and vegetables

In the self-aware twenty-first century we are in the grip of the more euphemistically-monikered ‘economic downturn’. But however the chancellor tries to conceal the fact in opaque nomenclature, we’re all feeling the pinch. For this reason Matt and Cat are joining the fight against poverty by making their own sandwiches for work. Occasionally Cat will buy sushi from Boots and eat it at her desk but eat-in lunches at Newport’s cafés are well and truly curtailed for the moment.

Despite these austerity measures, Matt and Cat, plus friend, treated themselves one day to lunch from Primrose Fine Foods, Newport’s latest delicatessen and sandwich shop. Having spotted its transformation from crystal emporium to cheesemonger it was only a matter of time before M&C paid a visit. This shabby-chic deli has shelves groaning with fine jams, chutneys and other condiments plus an impressive cheese chiller and baskets of fruit and vegetables.

Lamb carvery ciabatta with Garlic Farm mint sauce

Perhaps the most enticing thing in the shop is the hotplate, home to a stack of pre-sliced roasted meat – on the day Mat and Cat visited it was lamb and pork. However, as they gawped around the shop M&C failed to noticed that there was only one ciabatta’s worth of meat left on the hotplate which their mate decided to buy. He cheekily suggested to the lady that she might want to save herself the washing up and scrape all of the remnants, crackling and all into his ciabatta, which she happily did. Matt was crestfallen to have missed out! Although this under-stocking of the meaty treat seemed quite calamitous, there were plenty of other snacks for Matt and Cat to choose from including pies and some impressive pre-made doorstop ‘manwiches’.

It looked and tasted like the sort of sandwich you make yourself when you REALLY want a sandwich

Cat chose a vintage Cheddar and tomato manwich and Matt, juiced up for meat, chose ham and salad. All three supplemented their lunches with some delightful-looking lemonades and Cat also bought some Snowdonia ‘Little Black Bomber’ cheese from the cheese counter.

Matt and Cat’s bill
2 x ‘manwich’ @ £2.50
2 x juice @ £1.95
Total £8.90

Rather than eat at a bench by the Minster, Matt and Cat went back to their friend’s office where they had an impromptu desk picnic. Undoubtedly the star of the show, the lamb carvery ciabatta with Garlic Farm mint sauce was declared to be fabulous and, at under three quid, was a budget-friendly bargain too. Matt and Cat’s sandwiches were good value as well; crammed full of fillings – not just front-loaded like you sometimes get with a pre-packed sarnie. The vintage Cheddar was delightfully tangy, tempered with discs of tomato.

Matt’s ham sandwich was a classic of the genre. Thick enough that it took some care to get into his mouth; it was nonetheless soft and tasty with delicious fresh bread. Inside was a copious allowance of ham and salad, all absolutely fresh. It looked and tasted like the sort of sandwich you make yourself when you REALLY want a sandwich.

Both sandwiches were made with bread from Bembridge bakery. It was all washed down with refreshing and rustically-packaged juice from Devon’s Fine Country Lifestyle.

Despite there being a number of existing and new places for hungry office workers to get their lunch in town, Primrose Fine Foods has certainly cornered the market in outstanding value sandwiches and the impressive carvery ciabatta – just make sure you get there in time!
Primrose Fine Foods, Newport

  • Yum yum says:

    Called in here yesterday for a bite to eat.
    Not very busy, which I was surprised at, as when it first opened I thought it would be a little gold mine.
    It did feel a little shabby, with a dirty rug near the window, and a miss match of tub chairs, a picnic bench and a table with chairs. If it were mine, I would just have tables and chairs. Saying that the food that I had was nice, although the fillings which were in the counter looked old and not very exciting. I hope the owners read this as it would be a shame to lose this lovely shop.
    Not sure if I would go back, there is a lot of choice in Newport.

  • da yw wyth says:

    Not sure how she’d feel aboout that given the melancholu note on the window of the former Primefood….

  • peterkirchem says:

    Great to hear plans are in the pipeline…why don’t they try and trace the lovely lady who ran Primefoods in Cowes (yes, it was a great great place…and always open so late…I would often pop inthere at 9 in the evening having come to a grinding halt for some ingredient for dinner) and emply her as a consultant. Short cut to success so it seems!

  • da yw wyth says:

    Sourcing of new things is currently being explored, I’m told. It’s early days, but hopefully before long it will start to resemble a little more the miraculous and lamented Primefoods of Cowes….

  • On the strength of your review I went in there today and had a look around.

    First impressions are that it is somewhere any town would be proud of…delightful people smiling at you from behind the counters, wooden shelves avec stuff, lots of fresh breads (and they were good!), a good cheese section, lots of bottles of fruit squash, more stuff, and then of course the roast ciabattas…(they weren’t actually ready when I went in but can believe they are delicious!)..but then you think, or at least I did…’Is this all there is’?

    No packets of Garofalo pasta piled high, no fresh vegetables lying decorously around, no hams hanging up to give the place some…well…atmosphere! No recipe books to leaf through for inspiration whilst you are waiting to be served (and I was served an excellent cappuccino by the way) – just some Wilkin jams and some jars of stuff from that frightfully clever but rather overblown Garlic Farm down the road and yes, a few bags of healthy pasta…in short not really enough to make me want to go back in there again and again to see what’s new and interesting, other than when I want a sandwich!

    They call themselves Fine Food…that fine, but at the moment they seem to be a glorified sandwich shop..albeit, I assume, the best in town! From what I’ve read plans are in the pipeline for a coffew garden….great!!…but I just hope that people don’t begin to gravitate away from the place once the novelty of Ciabattas with roast pork wears off. And that would be a great shame.

  • Matt says:

    I disagree with the comment above I’ve been in 3 times for my lunch once with my little boy always been great the carvery rolls are fab and the sandwiches are made with proper bread not presliced rubbish keep up the good work

  • Gemma says:

    I was expecting great food and drink from here. But was very disppointed. Would not go back.

  • da yw wyth says:

    This place is a great boost to the IW following the sad demise of Primefoods in Cowes, courtesy of the nanny state 🙁

    Holyrood Street seems to be enjoying a well-deserved renaaisance, with this place, the “Tuscan Hills” about to open (!) and promising stirrings at the two empty shops nearest to where the Station used to be.

    If M&C are now going to be reviewing food retailers as well as eateries could I recommned the new greengrocers at Ventnor – the best of a sudden crop of such places (also Cowes and TWO in Ryde) Cheers.

  • Ben Harris says:

    I recently hosted a dinner party and shopped at Primrose fine foods for a selection of tasty cold meats and interesting cheeses. Both the meats and the cheeses went down brilliantly with my guests.
    Excellent service.
    Cant wait for the coffee garden to be open!!

  • Guy Bosley says:

    I live in oxfordshire but i often visit the island and stay at seaview, whilst i was there recently i heard on the grape vine of a new deli opening its doors in newport. When stepping into Primrose fine foods i was pleasantly surprised at the different choice of cheese. While in there i bought some montgomery cheddar, some shropshire blue some delicious isle of wight biscuits. The pate selection is great i purchased some stilton and guinness pate and some chicken and liver pate with brandy herb which i must say went down very well, and i couldnt leave without buying a sausage roll and an extremely delicious steak and kidney pie, i must say i was very happy with what i had bought and service with a smile is always an added bonus. I will definatly be popping in again on my next visit.N

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