Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
Regular readers won’t need reminding that Matt’s got a bit of a weakness for fast food. By contrast, dainty Cat will often raise her...

Regular readers won’t need reminding that Matt’s got a bit of a weakness for fast food. By contrast, dainty Cat will often raise her pert nose and walk past even the most tempting of burger joints.

Chicken teriyaki

One day when The Cat was away, Matt recruited some expert assistance to try out Subway’s franchise on Ryde’s Union Street. Junior reviewers Bill and Jack – no strangers to the discipline of surreptitious photography – were joined by Subway aficionado and reviewing neophyte Toby, who promised faithfully not to blurt out the purpose of their visit.

So, on a rainy afternoon, Matt shepherded his little flock through the big green doors. The shop was clean and tidy, if a little worn around the edges. The ubiquitous group of students was in one corner, eking out some meagre provisions and whiling away an afternoon in the warm. Otherwise the place was pretty empty. Toby boldly led the way to the long counter behind which a Subway myrmidon stood inertly.

For Matt, entering Subway was an interesting and novel experience. Readers may scoff at his gaucheness but he’d actually never set foot in one before. In fact, despite his fondness for fast food it’s a pleasure in which he rarely indulges, and living on the Island the choice of such chains is limited. You won’t, for example, see any reviews of Burger King or Domino’s on Matt and Cat’s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide – or not yet anyway. The fast food franchise archetype, McDonald’s, by contrast has two restaurants on the Island, but Matt is disproportionately proud of the fact that he’s never entered a McDonald’s or eaten their food, and has no intention of breaking his duck – or at least, not until Ronald McDonald begs him to do so on bended knee. Which, on reflection, might be something worth seeing. How about it, McDonald’s?

The Unique Selling Point of any franchise eaterie is, perversely, it’s lack of uniqueness – it’s supposed to be the same wherever you go. And so the experience is carefully crafted and regulated to make sure that it is.

The franchise and the virus work on the same principle: what thrives in one place will thrive in another. You just have to find a sufficiently virulent business plan, condense it into a three-ring binder — its DNA — Xerox it, and embed it in the fertile lining of a well-travelled highway, preferably one with a left-turn lane… (Neal Stephenson 1992, Snow Crash)

Some franchises – Wimpy, for example – are fairly laissez-faire and vary widely. Others are less so. However one thing that franchises all like to do is give ‘special’ names to things that would otherwise have a straightforward name. Perhaps the most obvious one here is the word ‘regular’ -now hijacked by drinks franchises all over the world to mean… what? Big? Little? Something in between? Who knows. Some people are very angry about it. However, those angry people could not level their complaints at Subway, because apart from calling a filled sandwich a ‘sub’, their product nomenclature is commendably clear. As the Matt and the lads approached the long bar, they could quite clearly see what was on offer, as it was all there in front of them. Bread comes in five styles – a sample of each one is right there for customers to gawp at. Sizes are similarly straightforward: small sandwiches are called six-inch, and large ones are called footlong. Even the youngsters, to whom imperial measurements are an arcane mystery, had no difficulty in understanding this. Similarly, everything else is laid out on the counter in front of you, you don’t even have to speak, you can just point and grunt.

Matt chose chicken teriyaki in a footlong Italian bread sub, with all the salad and bits. Soft drinks are available in at a nearby machine, and the lads soon discovered that there was an infinite supply. Once you’ve bought a cup, you can fill it up with whatever drink you want, as often as you want, and even add crushed ice. The nippers found this game even more diverting than the subs – throughout the meal they were up and down like yoyos refilling their cups and occasionally dropping ice cubes down each other’s shirts.


The sandwich was actually pretty good, as sandwiches go. It had plenty of filling, and although it was late in the afternoon the bread was fresh-tasting. A sub with teriyaki chicken, it is suggested by Subway “weighs in at under 5 grams of fat“. Horrors! Matt had unwittingly chosen health food – and enjoyed it!

The lads also enjoyed their subs, although it’s probably fair to say that they would have preferred an Indian takeaway. Nonetheless it’s unlikely that any Indian restaurant would have provided as much entertainment as the free drinks machine did.

Subway provides a relatively healthy, low-budget option for diners who want a quick bite without having a full sit-down meal. It’s not challenging or innovative dining but it is simple and effective.

  • W says:

    Went in on Thursday about 9pm, polite/chatty staff member, good food, fast service.

    Will return.

  • francis delore says:

    I went in there yesterday, and i found the food to be of a good standard, as was the restaurant area clean, i did notice the staff member mentioned above, but he wasnt serving!
    all in all i was happy with my experience!

  • Lester says:

    Puts me off big time, the least people can do is meet a basic level of hygiene, its quite simple, if you dont wash you stink!

    Subways loss can be your gain Jason, there are lots of places out there(which are not franchises of major companies who advertise on the tv) and Ryde has so much to offer.

  • Jason Brookes says:

    I have been going to subway literally since the day it opened, I was there on the first day when they gave away free 6inch subs, I feel that the price although expensive is worth it for the healthy convenient option over mcdonalds or kfc etc, I have always found the place to be up to a pretty good standard of cleanliness considering how busy it appears to get for the stagging numbers, over the years I have probably been served and now recognise most if not all the full timers that I have encountered there, I tell you all this to give you a idea of how often I go there! Never once in the past 10 years have I had a issue with the food to the point I couldn’t bring myself to finish it, untill last night, it saddens me to say this but I feel there is one staff member who I have a issue with, today he served me, and in the last few months hos appearance and personal hygiene have gone so far downhill I couldn’t bring myself to eat my 6inch meatball sub, although he is polite and chatty. I am sad to write this as my expectations of subway have become so high over the years of immaculate service, but the fact the management let someone work there in that state makes me question so much about subway

  • D says:

    After a failed attempt at being served in one of Union Street’s more up-market establishments I stepped into Subway ushered by a combination of sheer hunger and a promise that it ‘really isn’t that bad’ from my Wife.
    I have used Subway a couple of times previously and in the past would have given it a scathing ‘looks great but tastes of nothing’ kind of review but not this time. Perhaps in the past I have selected the wrong fillings as this time I opted for the 6″ Chicken Ranch with most of the extras chucked in and must admit that as far as sanwiches go it was a good’un.
    Looking past the cheap and chav-full interior as long as you are not too snobbish to been seen in there and you like chicken salad sarnies you can’t go wrong!

  • Bushy says:

    Re: ‘standard’ and ‘regular’. On Cunard ships, a ‘standard’ glass of wine is 150 ml while a ‘regular’ is 250 ml: definitely a strange (US, of course) interpretation of the Englsh language.

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