Cruising at a height of about five feet, we saw the welcoming lights of Bembridge airport and guided our transport down to rest conveniently close to the Propeller Inn – a long-standing venue once frequented by keen aviator Sir Alan Sugar, and recently reopened after a very comprehensive refurbishment.
But hang on, what’s this? Hipster designers haven’t had a look in. Tables are not made of old pallets. Lighting is not tenebrous. Far from it; it was almost a little too bright if anything. The place was clean and tidy without so much as a repurposed colander on the ceiling. Why, even the non-ironic pool table and fruit machines were twinkling invitingly – this place looked like a proper pub or social club! We were given a courteous welcome as we walked in and were shown to a table; joining a throng of families and couples eating and drinking at what was a surprisingly busy venue.
Remembering a sublime starter at Brading’s late, lamented Waxworks, Matt ordered nachos. Cat primly declined any starter but the canny waitress brought two plates – both of which were used. These nachos were just the regular packet-born variety, nonetheless done well. Freshly grilled but not seared onto the plate, they were adorned with plenty of cheese, and the requisite trifecta of salsa, guac and soured cream. A decent warm-up.
We both chose from the specials board. Red mullet fillets for Cat, a refreshing break from the ubiquitous sea bass. Two soft, flaky pink fillets were perched on an impressive pile of black olive mash, and a couple of lemon wedges complemented the citrus garlic butter. The soft boneless fish was pretty good, but the star of the dish was the delicious and unusual mash.
Matt’s pot-roasted leg of lamb was a great slab of tender, tasty meat served on a mound of sauteed potatoes; it made him smile. A tangy mint sauce gravy had an enjoyably retro hint of the school dinner hall about it and, with the generous allowance of veg alongside, this was a main course he appreciated.
Red mullet £13.95
Lamb leg £11.50
Nearby, to our amusement, a multi-generational group of diners was having one of those conversations where nobody really knows what is going on. An old gubber was plaintively complaining about “the ghetto“, whilst his daughter was telling a rather risque anecdote, discreetly below the volume necessary for the old fella to participate. The punchline to the story: “…and I burnt my bum!” came unexpectedly in a raised voice. “What are you talking about?” the puzzled oldster eventually had to ask. “Sunbeds, dad.” “Oh,” he mournfully replied, “Sometimes I’m glad I’m deaf.“
With desserts at a bargain price of £4.50, there was no reason to miss out. And we didn’t. Cat’s salted caramel brownie arrived with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream – it was substantial but unremarkable. Matt got the best of this course with a sweet waffle served with strawberry sauce and ‘Cornish cream tea ice cream’. This was exactly as you’d hope.
We moved towards the departure lounge, and onwards to our journey home – not by plane, but Cat’s trusty car. But we certainly thought we’d be taking the Propeller for a spin again some time – we liked the friendly, family atmosphere, the bargain prices, and competently-delivered menu.
This is the full length version of the review published in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Good for all the family
- Friendly service
- Plenty of free parking
- Not a cosy, intimate environment