Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
It’s been a tough week for Matt and Cat. Having enjoyed a wonderful Valentine’s dinner at a distinctive Island B and B, they stuffed...

It’s been a tough week for Matt and Cat. Having enjoyed a wonderful Valentine’s dinner at a distinctive Island B and B, they stuffed themselves with breakfast the next morning and legged it to the ferry. A mainland carvery completed the weekend’s eating out but that wasn’t the end of it: a trip to the Hong Kong Express, one lunch on the firm and three days of Boots meal deals plus a curry must surely make this one of the most indulgent weeks M and C have had for ages.

Handi gosht

As part of this mammoth indulgence-fest, Matt and Cat decided to try out Shanklin’s newest Indian restaurant. Despite the earliness of the season, Matt and Cat noted that the Purple Mango was moderately busy as they entered its warm interior. Like its parent restaurant in East Cowes, Shanklin’s Purple Mango has been decked out in a contemporary style. Matthew was impressed by the oversized white banquette and Cat’s twinkle antennae were drawn to the ceiling’s glittering centrepiece, a recessed assembly of pulsing fairy-lights with the words Purple Mango written in a circle. The impressive waterfall, first seen in East Cowes, finished the signature house style. Having been pleased by their meal at Purple Mango East Cowes would M and C be equally delighted in Shanklin?

Rosun chicken

As with all good Indian restaurants there was a laundry-sustaining amount of linen on the table – all spotless of course. Well, it started off that way. Cloth napkins, stuffed artfully into wine glasses, stood regimented and erect on each table until the waiter flicked one off with a practised wrist and draped the white material over Cat’s expectant lap. Whilst perusing the comprehensive menu, Matt and Cat were lead to wondering why it was nearly always Indian restaurants which seemed to have such exquisitely laundered table linen. Many other eateries do not dress their tables at all, and sadly there are still a few which consider a coating of sticky beer to be adequate cover.

They passed the time debating about which mythical creature would win in a fight between a unicorn and a mermaid
Purple Mango

There were a few surprises on the menu; salmon samosas and what looked like a curry pie. Matthew, unable to resist the lure of pastry, chose the hitherto unheard-of handi gosht: described as lamb cooked in a wok with tomatoes, onions and capsicum topped with thin pastry. Cat was encouraged away from the chicken tikka masala; Matt insisting that it would be for her own good to eat out of her comfort zone. Therefore she chose rosun chicken, but was keen to stress to the waiter that she was a lightweight when it came to spices and could he arrange for it to be nice and mild – a bit like passandar? The waiter seemed at first genuinely puzzled by this entreaty, and Cat had some difficulty in explaining this request. But eventually the waiter joined in the debate, and suggested a mild and creamy variation which Cat agreed to try.

Nibbling on their poppadums with accompanying chutneys, including bright orange powdered coconut, Matt and Cat looked out of the window at Shanklin’s rainy high street. To be honest, there wasn’t much of note other than a faint glow from windows of the Siam Pearl. Mercifully there was only a single television in the restaurant, and it was far enough from M & C to be no disturbance. Instead they passed the time debating about which mythical creature would win in a fight between a unicorn and a mermaid (and concluded that the outcome depends on the arena, fact fans).

With some ceremony, distinctly tepid plates were placed in front of Matt and Cat. Despite the slick presentation Matt was not pleased to see a range of greasy thumb smears on his. By contrast the serving dishes were nice and hot, and Cat had a big steaming basin of rosun chicken. Perhaps the waiter had detected Matthew’s slight disapproval of the smeary plate as his dish was not brought out. Matt pointed out that his handi gosht was missing, and the waiter disappeared into the kitchen presumably to find it. He soon re-emerged to confirm that the chef was just cooking it – disappointingly this lapse did not even warrant an apology. So Matt had to stare at his cold, greasy plate a bit longer. In the meantime, Cat generously shared some of her chicken, and he had a side-dish and rice to keep him from wasting away.

Matt and Cat’s bill
2 x poppadums £2.70
Rosun chicken £8.50
Handi gost £9.95
Sag bhagee £3.25
2 x pillau rice £5.00
1 x Cobra £4.50
Total £33.90

The rosun chicken was just about on the mild side of medium; any hotter and The Cat would have probably made ‘that face’. This was a pity, given the amount of discussion the diners had with the waiter on this topic. As it was, Cat’s dish was pretty tasty – a conspicuous amount of coriander helped give this garlicky dish a welcome aroma. It was nice and juicy with big chunks of chicken. A special mention must also go to the spinach bhaji; fresh-looking leaves with slices of garlic made this a subtle and welcome addition to the plate.

Matt’s handi gosht turned up about five minutes after the rest of the meal and his first impression was not good. The ‘thin pastry’ turned out to be a thick naan bread, casually slumped across the top of the metal serving bowl like an unleavened tea towel. Despite having been issued warnings about the temperature of the dish, Matt lifted up the flap of bread and was almost overwhelmed by a piping hot emission of steam – so no complaints about temperature this time. Dishing out the contents of the bowl, Matthew was pleased to see that they were as described: chunks of onion, tomato and peppers cooked up with a good few lumps of lamb, which unexpectedly turned out to be lamb tikka. Cat took a share in payment for her earlier donation of rosun chicken. However, compared with her tangy dish, she found it quite bland and rejected Matt’s offers of more. Matt, too, thought that apart from the meat the sauce was pretty tasteless, but he ate it nonetheless. It was nice to have the naan to mop up their plates and the last of the tasty saag bhaji, and there was no waste. But still, no pastry.

Would they really rather go into the new Mango, or next time would they go across the road to the veritable Maharaja?

The portions were good and, having eaten everything, the duo leant back and metaphorically loosened their belts. Cat was reflecting on the many Indian restaurants that the Island has to offer, and asked why only in Indians is it accepted that diners pay extra for carbs and vegetables. Matt couldn’t offer an answer, and was surprised that neither of them had considered this before. Elsewhere, M & C have berated non-Indian restaurants for this practice, but never even thought about the extra cost of pilau rice. They suddenly realised that this was an anomaly, and seems to be true across the country. Perhaps it is tradition. However, it’s a tradition that should come to an end. Matt and Cat decree that £5 for two portions of rice is a bit on the steep side and, in the spirit of equality, should be included in the cost of the meal, like pasta or potatoes are in other restaurants.

Your reviewers paid up, said their farewells and left. Walking back to the car they passed the cheery lights of the Maharaja and the chirpy bloke at the counter waved at them, still recognising them from their frequent visits many years ago. This made M & C think about the experience they’d just had. Would they really rather go into the new Mango, or next time would they go across the road to the veritable Maharaja? Probably, on balance, the older establishment would get their custom. But why? After all, the Mango is new, it’s clean, and it has exciting things on the menu. It also has an impressive parentage in the very well-thought-of namesake restaurant in East Cowes. But despite all that, Matt and Cat felt it was hard to really get excited about it. Now don’t be misled – your reviewers enjoyed their meal. The food wasn’t bad, not by any means. Nor were the prices unreasonable. But perhaps there were just too many rough edges on the place – dirty, cold plate; misleading menu; poor communication with the kitchen. In a market where it’s sometimes hard to distinguish one Indian from another, little lapses like this can make all the difference.

Update: whilst researching for this review M&C noted that the environmental health ‘scores on the doors’ for both the Purple Mango Shanklin and the Maharaja are both worth reading for prospective diners. The Mango gets a single star “Varying record of compliance. Poor appreciation of hazards and control measures“; whereas the Maharaja has an extraordinary no stars “Some major non-compliance with statutory obligations“. This was correct at 30/8/10; these ratings do change regularly so to check for yourself, look at the updated Scores on the Doors website by following the link on our sidebar.

  • Cat says:

    Following a series of comments which appear to be bogus we have suspended comments on this review for the present time.

  • Spin-E says:

    I have had take aways from the Purple Mango in Shanklin, I have not been back since, the food is tasteless and bland

  • A. Diner says:

    Was unsure when friends booked a group of us in at this restaurant as I had read the reviews on here, and am loyal to the Maharaja over the road! However it was a really good meal and I am keen to go back for more. Beautiful decor, lovely poppadoms and accompaniments, then plenty of food and all delicious. Creamy sauces, just-right spices. Really good saag aloo, onion bhajis, bombay duck. Only thing I would say negative was that the naan breads were much smaller and not as tasty as other Indian restaurants I have been to (I had peshwari but it was shy on the filling).

  • Sue says:

    My husband and I were asked to leave because there were people wating for our table- we wont be going back!! Found myself outside the with my half drunk bottle of wine under my arm! The staff were rude – to us and each other! Food ok but expensive.

  • Jill says:

    After our son recommended this restaurant my husband and I decided to take our visiting friends there last night. I have to say that I really really liked it and I am amazed that anyone would have any complaints. The decor is lovely, the water feature is stunning and the service was really polite and excellent.

    We were offered pompadoms on arrival accompanied with some delicious dips. Wine was brought promptly. We all had different dishes, the portions sizes were satisfying, we were give hot face flannels at the end of the meal and chocolate with the bill which was a very reasonable £83 which included the two bottles of wine.

    As residents in Shanklin we have eaten out in a lot of places and this has been my favourite. It was almost full when we arrived as well which in the middle of November is a testamont to how good they are.

    Keep up the good work, we can’t wait to come back.

  • Sanders says:

    I Would like to say how appalling this place is. From the moment I walked in I was greeted and seated and everything including the decor was trendy and neat, so as far as I was concerned this would be a good place to have a meal. I had difficulty in ordering with the waiter who didn’t speak very good English, then he went to get another waiter that did, in the midst my order was not complete. What annoyed me the most is the pushy selling tactic. I didn’t want a starter but they kept insisting and suggesting, another waiter tried to coax me into a side dish which I didn’t want! When my food arrived, the rice I ordered was a boiled rice but got Pilau instead, I was told the chapatis was coming so I proceeded to start eating, 5mins later my chapati arrived by then I had finished half of my meager meal. I asked the waiter it wasn’t good enough and not to add this to my bill. Being a single diner I tend to read my book with a coffee but I was presented with a bill without me even asking for it. No coffee then! They charged me for the chapati I returned, and to top it all there was an extra charge for water! I am submitting this from my mobile phone and Ive just asked to speak to the manager. Maybe I’ll point this website to him. For those folks that praised this place and made my night miserable, I thank you from the heart of my bottom.

  • sue says:

    Can’t make sense of these last few ‘reviews’…do they speak English?

  • kj says:

    people will judge for themselves whether you or I comment.

    By the way, I prefer the Maharajah across the road, so am definately not affiliated with PM ( and I’m known to the website owners)

  • Dave says:

    The purple mango and possibly yourself if as it seems judging by the your response KJ you may be affiliated with the purple mango should learn from these honest reviews and turn them into a positive. Remember anybody who experiences poor service from any business is twice as likely to let others know than if they were happy with the service. Remember also customers are handing over hard earned cash in these most difficult times and are none too pleased when they are taken for a ride and are expected to be happy with the result. KJ says these are pure deliberate attacks on the purple mango because reviewers like myself use words like (supervisor) etc. You can bet your life these are deliberate attacks and if nothing is done to control the (supervisor) etc, i’m sure the purple mango will get a few more.

  • kj says:

    Use of similar words (supervisor) etc show that these posts are a deliberate attack on The Purple Mango.

    Not my favorite Indian in Shanklin….but these posts are pure attacks and nowhere near refelect any visit I have made to the resteraunt

  • Sanjay says:

    I am from India and just recently visited Isle of Wight with my wife. After enjoying at beautiful beaches of Shanklin, we decided to have Indian food. My wife had been in Maharaja and Spice Lounge but there was no vacancy. We decided lets go Purple Mango. To our surprise they were filling people who are coming and people who had booked their places are waiting. We were made to sit near order place where we saw waiter hidingly taking drinks every time they came. One who liked senior kept screaming all the time on waiters in some Bengali language which irritaed us. The behaviour was pathetic and to our surprise the costly food was even more pathetic. We couldn’t eat chana masala and Chilli Paneer at all. We decided to move and then were given bill of 31.90 but we had ordered only 24 GBP. Then one of the menu was given where on some middle page additional note was added minmum order per person 15.95. I was shocked to see the way these people are fooling and cheating with third class service and food out of their complete greed just spoiling the name of India and Indian food. I wish somebody could coniscate their license. I would warn all Indian I know in London about this.

  • Dave says:

    Staying in a Sandown guesthouse we were always looking for somewhere to eat out in the evenings. After reading the reviews on this and other sites we decided to give the SWAD a miss and try the Purple Mango Indian restaurant in Shanklin instead. “BIG MISTAKE”. Although the place was full it was no excuse for poor standards. We were seated in the corner next to the bar and near a wall waterfall. After ordering our food for a family of four I noticed an Asian family of about Eight adults and children all looking over at the waiters every time food was being served. Eventually one of them asked when their food would arrive as they had waited for quite a while. Around the same time a waiter told us because they were busy we would have to wait a little while for our food. This is when alarm bells began to ring. Forty minutes later our food eventually arrived. I must admit the food was very nice although I can’t remember what we ate, however the portions did seem on the small side. During our meal one of the waiters was having an argument regarding getting his wages from the manager. Around the same time, as we were sitting next to the counter we could over hear another member of staff having a conversation with a customer on the phone regarding an order that hadn’t been delivered. When we got our bill the argument was still going on regarding the waiter’s wages and the person who seemed to be the manager then seemed to be paying the waiter in loose change from what looked like the tip box. Also the manager was telling this waiter who we thought might have been french and was very polite that he had to do more work before he finished but the waiter was having none of it.On our bill we noticed we had been charged for drinks we didn’t order and full price for one of our orders although it should have been priced as a starter. We were given an apology and told they were busy. Well tough if they were busy, we were paying customers and to be given a feeble excuse for poor standards is a disgrace, The person who appeared to be the manager needs to be replaced as I believe he is the main problem, with a cocky attitude towards his staff and customers alike. These people don’t seem to realise the power of the internet and honest reviews can have a detrimental effect on any restaurant. Although we will never visit the Isle of Wight again, hopefully potential customers will read these reviews and make their own minds up. This kind of standard semed to be the norm right across the Isle of Wight and the only meal we were happy with was at the Royal China in Sandown although i’m sure we were overcharged but couldn’t be 100% certain as the bill was in chinese.

  • ids says:

    My husband and I recently got back from IOW and we had the “pleasure” of dining at Purple Mango in Shanklin. My husband had a king prawn biryani and said it was very good while I had the vege selection which was merely ok but nothing spectacular. I share the opinion above that the waiters’ english is difficult to understand and organisation is not their strongest attribute. We were first to arrive in the evening so we choose a table that we really liked (table for four) and while we were eating the restaurant became full within a short space of time. After we had only just finished our food but still had half of a bottle of wine left we were approached by one of the waiters who winked to me in a “friendly” way (wrong behaviour to a woman who is far older than him or simply a wrong behaviour to a customer!) and then asked if we could drink our wine quickly because there were customers waiting and he needed the table! After our initial shock and disbelief my husband discussed this with the waiter who refused to understand that this is not the way to behave with customers.
    A very average meal for over £40 brings the reflection that there must be an Indian restaurant in Shanklin with better value, food and customer service!

  • paul says:

    My partner and I visited Purple Mango for the first time on Saturday. We arrived at 7.30 and as we enjoyed our meal the restaurant became busier, only to be expected in the middle of July.I’m not saying we were being hassled, but with half a bottle of wine left we did linger a little after we had finished the meal.without asking for it the bill was brought over and on several ocassions waiters looked expectantly at us. The bill came to £51. I put £60 with the bill and within a few minutes it was collected. As the waiter took it he looked quickly at the money and presumptuously asked me if I wanted the change! With no time to think, and taken aback by a question that I have NEVER been asked before , I said no. As we sat and reflected on my answer, I calculated how much I would have left had the change been brought back. We both agreed that the meal had been excellent and the service good so all the change would have been left anyway. Until these people learn the rules of etiquette we will not be going back.

  • Mistboy says:

    Having read mixed reviews about Purple mango, my wife and I and 17 year old son gave it a try with some trepidation. The decor and ambience is first class, and wondered if the food would match. The waiter seemed a bit spaced out and when we ordered we wondered if he wasnt used to serving English speaking clients. Gazed eyebrows all round and wry smiles on our faces. Our request for a jug of water was treated with an aplogetic garbled explanation. We sat next to a thundering water feature spilling down the walls with a light show and were beginning to think that this was the closest we would get to water. Nevertheless I think the point made was that tap water was not on offer,( we now knew why ) and three bottles of Hildon water later, we were mildly satisfied ( Why not Wight Crystal ! ) Going on to the food we have to say this: -probably the best indian we have had in years and we have had a lot in a whole range of resturants both on the Island and in most English speaking areas of England, and for me personally, even in Bangladesh home of all indian restauranteurs ( just ask them. never from india ) Hot, beautifully presented,full of flavour, ample portions, and a friendly owner who genuinely seemed concerned about our well being. A Must visit venue for any Indian afficianados.

  • Mark says:

    Been to the PM in Shanklin 7 times now. We find the food as good as any Indian on the Island. I do like their duck dishes – definitely not something you see everywhere. Our only complaint is the service is very variable – but that seems a common complaint. You would think we would be “regulars” by now. As a comparison we have been twice to the Maharajah and found it only average – in fact given the hype we were expecting something special. We did also get a home delivery from them (the Maharajah) which they messed up and would not put right – I guess a three mile drive is to far for them to go to make customers happy!

  • David C. says:

    I went to purple mango’s tonight. After searching Google for an Indian I liked the look of PM. Saw the maharaja too but decided to go to purple mango. Walked in and was greated and sat down and had a beer whilst I decided. Had the meal and was not that good. In contrast to the above post I can say it is NOT the BEST on the island. The dishes sound so exciting but in reality they are a duped version off the classic menu. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad but neither was it good for me to return. In this financial market quantity without sacrificing quality is the perfect balance for your mouth and wallet. It’s a shame when your expectations are not met. I will give the Maharaja a try next time.

  • James P says:

    “£34 for a set meal for two”

    Blimey! I know it’s not a fair comparison, but at least one supermarket sells Indian takeaways for two (which we have also shared between three) for under £5, so we could have had one of those every night for a week at that price!

    I’ve also had more than I could eat on Thali nights at the Maharajah on several occasions, and they were under a tenner.

    Still, I promise to try PM before commenting further, just as soon as I’ve saved up…

  • P. Beschia says:

    hmmm me thinks that’s not a very accurate or honest plug, but if you think its the best on the Island then matt and cat must not know what they are blogging about. Either that or you have only tried a very small percentage. There are 2 in ryde which are very good but im sure your more determined that purple mango wins your prestigious accolade. So you paid £34 pounds for a set meal for two when their new leaflets selling it for £20.50. I do pity your blind faith Anne. I have been to PM two times now and I can say it is not the BEST of what the Island offers, do shop around. Its your consumer right to do so.

  • anne seymour says:

    we got take out, and it was the best i have ever eaten on the island, would not go any way else now we have found it,we had the set meal for two £34 and three of us had it and had loads left, it was beautiful thank you purple mango

  • P.Beschia says:

    We went to give PM another try tonight, we felt that they deserved a second chance. I ordered a goan dish, and my wife ordered jinga some thing. Now what the description said was not what we received. They changed it but any fool can see that it was the same dish with a sprinkle of ginger and corriander. Does the chef not taste the food? My goan curry was all shades of green, I know it said green curry but I was not prepared for a full green spectrum. I hate to moan in a restaraunt but my wife had had enough. It was my idea and what a let down. We won’t darken your doors purple mango.

  • James P says:

    The Maharajah has always been good value, IMO. Their plates are always hot, too! £2.50 for a portion of rice is a fair old mark-up, as is £4.50 for a beer…

  • P.Beschia says:

    To be honest matt and cat, we did try there during the xmas period. lots of people are getting buzzed from the appearance of a new PM. Me and Carol tried it and it wasn’t all that. Food was average but forget returning customers. The waiters lack the basic English unless they are yelled at by the boss who is larger then life trying to maneuver around us and a small table,and instead of serving us he was pre-occupied with glancing out of the window(we were sure he was checking up on his competition). Food came to about £40 quid as i recall and carol had the same as cat. ( garlic chicken to those who didn’t know what rashun meant).
    The week after i tried Maharaja, not as glamorous as PM but the waiters spoke good English, even the chef came to greet us which was a nice touch. I explained i wanted something tasty and different and he gave me a delicious dish of large lentils and onions and lots of crunchy ingredients. Cant think of the name but it was delicious. So we paid £28!! how come you ask. well the waiter told us that they were doing a 3 course meal for £10 pounds with no restrictions on the menu…… that with good food and service we were over the moon. So i’m going to try Maharaja again to see if this 10/10 still holds. As for PM, yeah its a nice venue…but the food doesn’t live up to the decor and styling. A new place like PM should be hitting 10/10 not 5/10.

  • kj says:

    This review so closely matches my assesment, its hardly worth adding more.

    Maharajas has the edge, because, Sana knows my name and is alway welcoming, and they listen when you want to ‘move off’ menu.

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