Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide

The last 50 or so reviews we wrote are on this page. To see older ones, you might want to search or look at the map.

  • All
  • Bembridge and St Helens
  • Burgers
  • Cafes
  • Chinese and other Asian
  • Cowes & East Cowes
  • Family friendly
  • Fish and chips
  • Hotels
  • Ice cream
  • Indian
  • IWCP
  • Local produce
  • Mediterranean
  • Newport
  • Pub Grub
  • Restaurants
  • Ryde
  • Sandown & Shanklin
  • Seafood
  • Take aways
  • Tapas
  • Tea shops
  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Ventnor area
  • We don't like
  • We like
  • We love!
  • West Wight

Call It What You Want, Cowes

Some venues still think serving chips in a tiny metal pail is the acme of food trendiness. Other restaurants continue to puff out their chests, imagining that their knife-grating, gravy-liberating slates are the last word in food delivery (if only they were the last!). But food fashion, like any other,…

Coffee Pot, Ryde

In the week that Ryde was awarded a share of the government’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone fund, we thought we’d visit the town and eat in one of its most venerable venues. We could, of course, have popped into Yelf’s Hotel. The hostelry undoubtedly counts as historic, having been…

Tramezzini, Ventnor

Once upon a time Italian restaurants were ubiquitous on every high street. You know the sort of thing: generic pasta and pizza, checked tablecloths, raffia-wrapped wine bottles and textured artex walls. Desperate to set themselves apart from the competition in a sea of look-alike venues, some took to oversized pepper…

33 St Helens

Did you know Dan’s Kitchen in St Helens had closed? No? You’d been trying to get a table at that popular restaurant for ages, hadn’t you? And you didn’t, did you? Well, now you can’t. And nor can we, which is a shame, because it was good. But hold on,…

Django’s, Newport

It has to be one of the most idyllic inland locations for a restaurant on the Island. Nestled in a valley just outside Newport, the ancient stones of Staplehurst Grange warm in the evening sun. A long drive down a gravel track past fields of sheep, flowery hedgerows, beehives and…

Crown Inn, Shorwell

There’s nothing we like better than a nice surprise. It’s a treat that never gets old when we wander into some venue anticipating an indifferent meal, and our unambitious expectations are blown away. Perhaps the best example of this in recent years was the tragically short-lived fried-fish wagon of Salty…

Prezzo, Newport

With a gaggle of excited chums we hit the pub after work, followed by dinner at the big Italian chain of Prezzo in Newport High Street – where the post office used to be. Matt’s calamari starter was curious, as if some misguided chef had found a way to take…

Ryde Pier Cafe

Sometime soon, if the futurologists are to be believed, we’ll be shuttled around in driverless electric cars – our every move monitored and tagged by our robot overlords. But until that particular utopia arrives, we’ll have to make do with more prosaic ways of getting about. And, in Ryde, one…

The Star Inn, Wroxall

The Star Inn, Wroxall has had several iterations over recent years, including a short spell as the optimistically-named Four Seasons. Undoubtedly there will be some local trade for the only pub in Wroxall. However, you want to know if they are doing anything in the kitchen to make it worthwhile…

Jolliffe’s Eatery, Cowes

We recently spent a few days in Southsea. That stormy weekend which whipped Cat’s hair into even more of a nest, and caused Matt to peer at the wind and rain through the fur-trimmed hood of his snorkel parka. We stayed in the Queens Hotel, a landmark building in a…

Cibo, Wootton Bridge

On our morning commute we often go through Wootton High Street. Going through is the thing most people do with that road, and we’re no different. Since an unfortunate encounter with The Sloop a few years ago we’ve not had many reasons to change that. But recently, our interest has…

The Bistro, Ventnor

Like the rest of you, we drove around the Island at the tail end of May with our car windows wound down. Mostly because the air conditioning in Cat’s Citroën is broken, but also that we might breathe in the heady aroma of wild garlic. The Isle of Wight’s roadside…

The George Hotel and Beach Club, Yarmouth

The George Hotel has for decades been a reliable stalwart of Yarmouth. But this year, any metaphorical cobwebs have been blown away. A new broom has swept through the venue, boutiquifying the bedrooms, George-ing up the staircase, and with imminent plans to Italianate the garden too. Under the guiding hand…

Leal’s Tea Gardens, Godshill

At the tail-end of a scorching Bank Holiday weekend we had seen the Island at its best. Hedgerows nodding with fresh flowers, sun glinting on the gorgeous blue sea, beaches full of happy holidaymakers and of course some great meals out. Gathering a few friends we decided to make the…

Pendleton’s, Shanklin

Mid-February, when everyone’s thoughts turned to love – or at least the commercialised Hallmark-whimsical-heart-shaped-helium-balloon-a-thon that is Valentine’s Day, our thoughts turned to parsimony. Yes, we spend a disproportionate amount of our hard-earned on supporting the Island’s food industry, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want value for money. So, instead…

Joe’s Bar, Niton

You must have heard us blather on about how folks on the Isle of Wight orientate themselves by where the post office used to be. One of Cat’s first experiences of being given directions followed a trail of landmarks that were no longer there; “Past where that old copper beech…

Crab and Lobster Tap, Ventnor

Cat’s got an elderly relative who’s convinced that B-Day (Brexit Day, EUletide, or whatever you want to call it) will bring not only that mythical £350m for the NHS but also a welcome return to pounds and ounces. In some deep recesses of the Island we have been known to…

Sundial Cafe, Sandown

If you’re on the Isle of Wight, and seeking somewhere to eat, there’s a high likelihood that you are going to look favourably on somewhere with a sea view. We have remarked before on the curious fact that there are actually surprisingly few such venues. If you doubt us, do…

Bizzy Wok, Ryde

After the excesses of Christmas, many of you will have emerged blinking into the New Year full of staunch resolutions to stop drinking alcohol, deny yourselves meat, run every day and generally have a miserable and sanctimonious January. We know that our willpower isn’t as reliable as yours so we…

Gurnard Press

Let’s say you’re stuck with a traditional newsagent’s shop in Gurnard. It’s been trading for years but frankly, the writing is on the wall. Nobody buys fags any more, printed media is not really a growing market, and as for sweets and toiletries, darling, we all get them from Waitrose….

The Hungry Bear, St Helens

Where do you need to go to find an rhea’s egg on the Isle of Wight? A long time ago it was Fakenham Farm, in St Helen’s. The rheas are no longer in residence, but now the farm has adopted a Hungry Bear – relocated from the café that used…

ComiCoffee, Newport

In the week that Marvel comic book publisher Stan Lee died, we popped into Newport’s ComiCoffee to raise a toast to this creator of numerous fictional superheroes. For those who haven’t kept up with the county town’s game of musical venues, ComiCoffee is where Caffe Isola used to be, itself…

Pulse Vegan Restaurant, Ventnor

There was a long-standing joke the gist of which was that a meat-free diet would cause an increase in methane emissions from all the gaseous fermented bean-trumps leaching through the velvet bell-bottoms of those hippy vegans and vegetarians. Turns out that the joke’s on the other foot. Meat and dairy…

The Chequers, Rookley

You know The Chequers, right? One of those big, rambling family road pubs that you took the kids and grandparents to. The kind of place where a large car park and play area are adequate compensation for the generic pub grub menu. If that’s still your idea of the Chequers,…

McDonald’s, Newport

People regularly ask us if we are truly anonymous food reviewers. “Surely staff must know when you are eating in their venue?” is oft the cry. They possibly do, but sometimes we keep them on their toes. We might book under a different name, go with friends or, sometimes not…

The Freshwater Coffee House

The Isle of Wight is often insulated from mainland trends, but even the Island’s high streets have not escaped the decline of recent years. This national phenomenon has been attributed to anything from online shopping habits, austerity, high business rates and car parking charges, inaccessible public spaces, chuggers, spiceheads and…

The Cottage, Shanklin

Dining out with us could be a bit of a chore for our friends. You’re invited out a for a fun night out, yet your dining companions are constantly fiddling with notebooks and hustling their camera phones up and down at every course. Luckily we have some very tolerant chums…

Blue Crab, Yarmouth

Imagine popping into your local village chippy only to find yourself bumping into a peer of the realm. That was our diverting experience when we were waiting for a table in Yarmouth’s Blue Crab. ‘Takeaway for Michael?’ was called out, and we passed local celebrity Lord Grade of Yarmouth collecting…

Thai Mukda, Shanklin

We’re often asked about the latest food trends on the Island. To be described, like one place, as ‘a bit of Shoreditch in Ventnor’, is high praise. With restaurants, as with other businesses, we crave the novel, the maverick, and the disruptor. But for every Uber and Tesla making headlines…

Stripped, Ventnor

Have you ever worked for a big organisation? Not a rapidly-expanding kick-started hipster laser razor company, but one of those ancient creaky institutions, like the government or Royal Family. Where, over the decades, layers of policy, ceremony and administration have been added like skin round an onion, until nobody can…

No 64, Ryde

There was a time when each cafe sold us the same thing, and we had to put up with it. Brutally potent tea, camp coffee, dry sandwiches and an ashtray on every table were universally understood and expected. But oh, how things have changed. On the Island a few hardy…

ADA Meze Kitchen, Carisbrooke

You’ll have heard us harp on about how Ryde is the international cuisine capital of the Island with its varied world food offerings. But what’s this? Is sleepy Carisbrooke snapping at its heels? The village is already home to one of our favourite English pub roasts, plus what must surely…

Seapot, Ventnor

At the outer edge of England lies the Isle of Wight; at the Island’s southerly perimeter is Ventnor – and clinging to its shoreline is Seapot. We approached the cafe from the Bonchurch end, pausing to read about how, when Victorian celebrity Tennyson popped into the village, local girls seized…

High Street Bar Co, Ventnor

With Cat unexpectedly incapacitated, Matt had to find himself an alternative dining-out companion. First in line was barbeque-enthusiast Kieron, an old pal who has many times plied Matt with more perfectly-grilled meat than a normal human should ever eat. The well-matched duo set off towards Ventnor on the hunt for…

Ryde Tandoori

Although we don’t claim to have our fingers on the pulse of all the zeitgeisty food fashions, a recent trip to Bristol showed us that ‘raw’ food, sliders and nose-to-tail eating are still very much on the mainland’s (artfully-chipped enamelled) plate. Islandside, we’re all over The Rise of the Vegan,…

Blacksmith’s, Carisbrooke

Is pub grub an actual genre of food? It probably is. Leave aside the rather chummy and dated feel of the word ‘grub’, and the conveniently rhyming description gives a clear expectation to the prospective diner. Sizeable portions of hot food, usually a focus on meat and chips, and some…

Chessell Pottery Cafe, Shalcombe

Now that David Bowie has shuffled off this mortal coil, the memory of him will surely eventually fade away. But for old codgers like us, there is no greater shorthand for reinvention than the conceiver of the Thin White Duke and Ziggy Stardust. And, just as the erstwhile David Jones’…

White Lion, Arreton

One of the great things about having mainland visitors is proudly showing off the Isle of Wight to them. Whether they are staunch monarchists, transport buffs or competitive children, you will find something to impress them. And so it was when we took recent guests to Osborne House, the Bus…

Pizza Express, Newport

One drizzly Newport afternoon, post-cinema, we wandered into town with dinner in mind. Passing Thompson’s we paused, as ever, and pondered the alluring bill of fare outside. Was this the day that the £24 two-course set menu was going to draw us in? Apparently not. The siren of Pizza Express…

The Bandstand, Sandown

After considerable investment and what must surely have been a labour of love, in 2016 Sandown’s Bandstand welcomed diners through its doors. Matt particularly was intrigued to see inside this iconic building, such a landmark of his Sandown childhood. The conversion is remarkable; from an open-sided bandstand, its ironwork rendered…

Hong Kong Express, Ryde

There are some Island institutions, like Hursts, which provide the same products and service year after year. Fashions change, high street names rise and fall yet some places are so deep-rooted that they are more than a shop front; they, by dint of inertia, become part of the Island’s heritage….

Caffe Isola, Newport

Has Newport reached ‘peak coffee shop’? Back in 2015 we wondered this in our review of the then brand-new Coffee Room at Skintrade. People probably asked the same question when the venerable God’s Providence House opened its doors back in the last century – yet seemingly the demand for a…

La Cucina, Yarmouth

Dunno about you but we’ve got one of those mates who is not comfortable with eating out. He loves his own home cooking and is consequently unfamiliar with the inside of a restaurant, some of the terminology on a menu and is also not keen on spending money on food…

Blueberry’s, Shanklin

Social media coverage has been blamed for a lot of things – election results, disgraced politicians, a decline in educational standards – but one thing that the coming of Instagram can most certainly take credit for is the the advent of beautiful food. Yes chefs, if your dishes look good…

Courtside Cafe, Ryde

Anyone who keeps an eye on the Isle of Wight County Press will note that, following our favourable review of the Woodman’s Arms, Gordon Pollard from Sandown was compelled to put pen to paper. He complained about our analogy between the pub’s gravy and a millionaire footballer. We had said…

God’s Providence House, Newport

We often reminisce about Brading Waxworks. This much-loved tourist attraction closed in 2010, after 45 years. Tantalisingly, if it had hung on just a few more seasons, we reckon it might have seen its fortunes turn. After all, these days post-ironic tourism is big business, and goodness knows the erstwhile…

Woodman’s Arms, Wootton

You may recall that we declared the island’s national dish to be crab on chips. If you haven’t tried the goodness of chunky triple-cooked chips or sweet potato fries smothered with Ventnor’s finest crab meat then you need to rectify that immediately. Of course, UK-wide, the most popular dish is…

KFC Newport

KFC Newport has been an Island institution long enough for most of us to get accustomed to its presence. When we last reviewed it back in 2005 we were scathing about the ‘hideous, abattoir-like’ architecture, but had to admit that the food was not unpleasant. Well, twelve years and about…

Beefeater, Newport

What is it about chain restaurants? We diners profess disdain for them, saying that we prefer small local businesses for our meals out. But clearly we don’t – or at least a lot of us don’t. It doesn’t look as though McDonald’s in Newport is closing down any time soon,…

Original Phil’s Diner, Newport

We’ve got the idea that at some point, way back, we actually met the original Original Phil. Or maybe we dreamt it. Anyway, he’s long gone, but the diner that bears his name has been doing the Island’s best impression of an actual American diner for some years. It’s bright,…