Shanklin Esplanade is one of the quieter of the traditional beaches on the Isle of Wight, where visitors still enjoy the golden sands, amusements,...
Steamer Inn, Shanklin

Shanklin Esplanade is one of the quieter of the traditional beaches on the Isle of Wight, where visitors still enjoy the golden sands, amusements, crazy golf and ice creams. It’s Matt and Cat’s recurring pleasure to stop off on the way home from work at such a place where they can spend a few moments enjoying that holiday feeling – and the Island presents many such opportunities. After a stroll along the warm sand they worked up an appetite, and the Steamer Inn heaved to at just the right moment.

The Steamer is a large, family-oriented pub right on the esplanade, with wide terraces overlooking the beach. Signs on the door suggest that tops and shoes must be worn indoors – but outside visitors had obviously walked straight off the beach and sat down. A pleasantly relaxed venue. Perhaps the downside of this was that the terrace was furnished with cheap and rather wobbly plastic furniture, and the tables were distinctly sticky. But undeterred Matt and Cat took a seat outside.

Mediterranean vegetable tortilla

The menu was big, and comprehensive. All pub grub life was there aplenty – sandwiches, salads, burgers, children’s menu, jacket potatoes and ploughman’s. There was a big seafood selection, and Matt picked from that crispy fish cakes in prawn and dill sauce, for £8.25. Cat was attracted to the homemade vegetable tortillas in tomato and basil sauce, for £7.95. A pint of Ventnor Golden for Matt rounded the order off – this turned out to be a little nearer the end of the barrel than he’d have liked – but drinkable nonetheless.

Whilst they awaited their meals Matt and Cat enjoyed the views out to sea, watching passing boats and bathing tourists. They were diverted by the arrival of an extended family of Londoners settling in on the terrace, obviously enjoying their Island holiday but also not quite having managed to adapt to the quieter style of the Island – there was much good-natured hollering and cackling, the highlight of which was hearing a splendid old fellow yell ‘Gor Blimey!’. That kind of expression is now very rarely spotted in the wild, especially so far south as this. A most satisfactory record.

Fish cakes

The food was delivered precariously to Matt and Cat’s terrace table by a polite, if rather unsteady, young waiter. Both meals were well-presented and piping hot. Cat was delighted with her tortillas – more like a lasagne than the pancakes she had been expecting, but still an enjoyable pile, dripping with cheese and packed with tasty Mediterranean vegetables. Matt found his modestly-sized and pricier fish cakes less inspiring. The chips and peas were up to the mark, but the fish cakes seemed to be more like potato cakes, being floury and bland with only a hint of fish. The prawn and dill sauce, by contrast, looked and tasted great – but it was more a necessary camouflage than a dressing.

As the shadows crept over the beach, and the families began packing up the people-carriers, Matt and Cat strolled back down the strand to enjoy a few more holiday moments before leaving Shanklin behind. The jolly lights of the Steamer behind them highlighted a good place for a beachside feed – especially if you’ve got a big party. It’s not the cheapest place to eat, nor is the food of the highest quality, but it’s a great location.
Steamer Inn, Shanklin

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  • Mattfromryde

    24th June 2012 #1 Author

    Thought that we would have breakfast there this morning, but after sitting down we were told that they don’t do breakfasts on a Sundays. Shame that their website says that they do. I pointed this out to the chap and he said that he will rectify. No great loss we had an excellent breakfast at the cafe on the roundabout. Excellent bubble and squeak. Then thrashed my mate at the new pirate themed crazy golf. For my money the best crazy golf course on the island!

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  • girl from ventnor

    13th November 2011 #2 Author

    We were tempted by the roast lamb and beef for Sunday lunch, prior to a bracing seafront walk. The staff accommodated us by serving our gravy in a jug as we don’t like our dinner swamped, but the quality was disappointing. The beef was good, but the lamb was thin and fatty. Vegetables were overcooked and tasteless in my opinion. Nice roast potatoes, but the carrots were cut like ribbons and the broccoli and cauliflower had neither texture nor flavour. A shame as the venue and service were pleasant.

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  • Helena Drysdale

    7th November 2011 #3 Author

    They were friendly, and welcoming, but on a Saturday night the atmosphere was a bit depressing, with harsh lighting and almost no one there, despite the live music tucked away behind one corner. Many of the dishes were unavailable; i went for grilled plaice which was so dry it was falling off the bones, as if it had been waiting around for several hours for someone to come along and take pity on it. Not somehwere I’d go back to.

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  • Rachel & Richard

    12th July 2010 #4 Author

    First impressions …Its quite a nice theme inside, but the cheap plastic furniture outside was very stylish!! Let’s just say we won’t be going back! I had the fish cakes with prawn and dill sauce. When it arrived it looked like prawn soup and chips! I couldn’t even see the fish cakes! They had completely drowned in the sea of sauce! By the time I had found the fish cakes they were soggy and stodgy. Yuk! Pretty tasteless too. The chips were the best thing on the plate.
    My boyfriend had the herb sausages and mash with caramelised onion gravy. Well, the sausages were not herb (just pork), the gravy not caramelised onion gravy (just plain gravy which made a well known brand of instant gravy granules taste great!), and the mash was lumpy :o(
    Just dont understand why any chef would want to serve food like that?

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  • Eyan & Ruth

    24th September 2009 #5 Author

    Visited early this year, mid evening, first impressions was what a wonderful location for a resteruant. Although a bit chilly decided on an outside front of house table, but on closer inspection started to wonder if I had made a mistake, old rickity iron or wood tables which could have done with replacement or even a lick of paint with the table tops heavily stained and sticky, uugghhh. Ruth ordered the meals and although they were quite quick in coming they were to say the least poor quality and expensive for what they were. Not one I would recommend unfortunately.

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  • Vicky

    23rd July 2009 #6 Author

    What can I say? It was certainly a meal I won’t forget but unfortunately not for the right reasons! We have has a few nice meals at the Steamer Inn and I usually opt for the Chicken Caesar Salad. However, on our last visit I thanked my lucky stars that I am a picky and slow eater as I found a few unwanted additions to my meal! Firstly, I found what appeared to be a piece of liver (which my husband had ordered) on the top, followed by a hair. As I was reeling from finding the hair, a small (but friendly) SLUG slithered out (probably relieved that I hadn’t sliced him in half)! I understand that sometimes slugs do get missed in salads but it appeared the hygiene and multiple additions to a single meal was slightly unforgiveable and hence we will never return to this pub! I had to refuse the kind offer of a replacement meal as I was sorely put off eating by this point, not to mention the fact that everyone else had finished their meals. Friendly staff but do question the chef’s ability and cleanliness!

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  • JJ

    19th April 2009 #7 Author

    We’ve visited the Steamer regularly since the end of February. Whether we’ve been for lunch or dinner, on a weekday or weekend, we’ve always had great food. The grandkids love the ice cream sundaes! All the staff are friendly and welcoming, the service is efficient and the Steamer has a great atmosphere. Wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

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  • HC

    14th April 2009 #8 Author

    We had a dreadful meal there. I ordered the swordfish which came on a bed of plain lettuce, with 4 plain boiled potatoes and some manufactured tomato chutney thrown on top. The swordfish was so tough I would say it had been in the freezer a good 12 months and it was also poorly cooked, with some sections being rare in the middle. My daughter fancied a pizza from the childrens’ menu which looked remarkably like the pizzas we buy on rare occasions from the supermarket when a quick and easy snack is in order. It did have extra cheese on top though. Others in the party ordered a disapointing curry and cod and chips – the cod equally looked like a piece of fish from the supermarket frozen section re-heated.

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  • kj

    1st January 2009 #9 Author

    Went to the Steamer for a New Years day Lunch (not much else open) and it was awful. We had a mushroom soup that was only just warm with a thick skin on it, cottage pie in which the mince was so finely gorund it was like gravy and a fish pie that you just couldn’t eat.

    They dealt with the complaint nicely enough and gave a refund (a bit to easily which leads us to think it was not unexpected)

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  • Joanna

    10th November 2008 #10 Author

    Last weekend,together with visiting relatives, we set off to ‘The Steamer’ for lunch with one of the most lovely views of the beach. Upon arrival, I was puzzled that there was barely a soul in the place and I was worried that there wouldn’t be room! If it wasn’t for the fact that my daughter would have been highly embarassed etc. if I complained, I certainly would have asked for a refund for all the meals. My Seafood Chowder consisted of a bowl of cream and about two prawns and three pieces of some unknown white fish. It was completely tasteless and so I left it. The filo pastry with a glimpse of a mushroom was so hard it was almost impossible to cut. I could go on … The pub also did not pass my test of a good eating place in other ways; what I call the Fresh Milk and Black Pepper test. Apparently there were neither in the establishment. I have enjoyed many lovely meals there in the past. Maybe the manager and usual staff were on holiday?

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  • Peter Lawrence

    9th September 2008 #11 Author

    We went out for a family meal at the Steamer last week as we felt that the children would be well catered for and there was a lovely view over Shanklin beach. The service was very prompt but that is about the best I can say about the venue. My wife’s steak was so full of gristle and tough that it was totally inedible and my son and daughter (one and a half and three and a half) spent the evening being violently sick after both having scampi and chips. On noting that the steak was inedible their only comment was that they were sorry – we will not be returning.

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