Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
Eeny meeny miny mo, to which venue will M and C go? Having visited nearly all of Newport’s eateries, Matt and Cat found themselves...

Eeny meeny miny mo, to which venue will M and C go? Having visited nearly all of Newport’s eateries, Matt and Cat found themselves at the junction of South Street and St James Street where, side by side, were the two of the most prominent untried dining rooms of the county’s main town.

The George Inn

Examining the menus outside the venues, it seemed that Matt and Cat had little to choose from between the two places. Chips and burgers were on both menus, also salads, fish (or the curiously spelt filet-o-fish) and chicken. Despite these superficial similarities, Matt and Cat somehow managed to turn their backs on McDonalds and entered the George Inn.

The George is a traditional town centre pub, of a species common enough on the mainland but actually fairly unusual on the Island – perhaps because of the lack of sizeable towns. With fruit-machines flashing frantically, a faded orange-hued décor and a half-timbered style, The George successfully evoked the atmosphere of an urban pub from 1989 rather than 2009… and was none the worse for it. A cheery welcome from the lady behind the bar greeted the lunchtime visitors as they settled into a little table with a view of the buses negotiating their way to and from the interchange.

Reassuringly, the menu was entirely as expected. Starters included garlic mushrooms and – yes, folks, you knew it – prawn cocktail. This was the dish described by The Taverners as ‘classic 1970s prawn cocktail with all the bits‘: with the difference that The George was serving this with a straight face – here you get the original.

There was an unusually comprehensive and very well-presented separate children’s menu – perhaps The George is mindful of the lure of adjacent McDonalds. It even featured ‘Kids Roast of the Day’ for £4.25: not bad at all. Back on the grown-up’s menu main courses were keenly priced, served with salad and choice of potatoes, and included double sausage, egg and chips; cheesy chips; and at the top of the range the challenging George’s Giant Mixed Grill for £18.25.

Bacon and brie ciabatta and salad

Matt hovered over such a delight before choosing what was billed as ‘succulent beefburger served in a sesame seed bun with fried onions, side salad and a portion of chips or baked potato’. Cat looked at the healthier page of the menu, picking over ploughmans, baked potatoes and salads before landing on a bacon and brie ciabatta and salad.

The decent portions and fresh ingredients made this look distinctly good value for money

The pub ambience was particularly enjoyable, and Matt sipped at a pint of beer whilst watching the world go by in the busy street outside. Various locals entered the pub, passed the time of day with others standing at the bar, and moved on. Two old ladies laden with shopping settled at a table near to Matt and Cat and begun loudly discussing the bargains they had gleaned from stricken shops in the High Street; a couple of callow youths in sports gear and gold chains wandered in and sent text messages whilst nervously feeding the slot machines. It was all quite low-key and felt like a genuine, sociable place to be.

Succulent beefburger served in a sesame seed bun with fried onions, side salad and a portion of chips
Matt and Cat’s bill
Burger and chips £7.25
Bacon and Brie ciabatta £5.75
1pt bitter shandy £2.90
Cordial £0.40

The meals arrived soon enough. They looked pretty good and were of ample proportions. Matt’s burger was positively towering with piping hot chips, and the side-salad was nearly falling off the plate. Cat’s salad was similarly generous, and her ciabatta was adorned with no less than three rashers of bacon to complement the warm and perfectly melting Brie. Digging in, the meals proved to be fresh and hot, and of adequate quality.

Matt’s burgers were definitely not of the gourmet variety, and the chips obviously from the freezer rather than the chopping board, but at £7.25 for a 1/2-pound burger this was entirely acceptable, and indeed the decent portions and fresh ingredients made this look distinctly good value for money. Cat’s ciabatta was packed with lean meat and plenty of warmed cheese – an astonishing and unexpectedly large amount of Brie – plus a nice fresh salad with home-made coleslaw. Although she gamely made a good effort, Matt was happy to finish it off.

As usual, far too soon the lunch was eaten up and it was time to emerge into the bustle of Newport’s lunchtime crowd, making their way back to their workplaces. Matt and Cat left The George and walked past McDonalds without a sideways glance.

  • Tia says:

    We decided to have a meal here on 1st March after going to the cinema. We ordered the steak pie and the roast chicken and chips, as well as a bottle of red wine. The food arrived very quickly, the plates were cold and the chicken was extremely well done and a much smaller portion than when we have eaten in there previously. The red wine was cold which when we commented on the ‘owner’ said that’s because it’s been behind the bar. Then she offered us a jug of hot water so that we could warm it up. Very disappointing – we won’t be going back again

  • Val garrard says:

    Go to Newport once a month and eat at the George at least 8 times out of 12. Staff all friendly good size adult portion. I always have a child’s portion which is more than adequate for my gastric band. Would certainly give a 9 out of 10

  • Maddy says:

    28/09/13 we entered the pub, a rather large woman was breastfeeding her 3 yr old girl in the pub area, our meal was very dissapointing, the place has gone downhill I`m afraid, nobody asked if everything was ok, it cost £16.10 ans was cold and un-appetising, we`re never going back…..

  • maddy says:

    rubbish tired and unclean

  • HungryPeter says:

    “Best stew I ever had in Newport!”

  • da yw wyth says:

    At the risk of talking to myself a little too much….

    Just to report I tentatively tried the steak pie and…. it is back to its own inimitable best! Thoroughly recommended.

    And another advantage is that there are no time restrictions on servings – if you need to dine at 4.30 or 5.00 pm. just stroll in and do so 🙂

  • da yw wyth says:

    Here’s some very disappointing news – went here this week looking forward to the usual top quality steak pie. It was not. Pastry and gravy were poor, meat tough, stringy and not properly cut into pieces. Even the peas were bullet hard. Whatever has happened?! I was not asked,as usual, how the meal was, which spoke volumes. Standards have slid horribly!

    Matt and Nat are appearing at Shanklin Theatre soon, btw. Hope this does not lead to confusion/disappointment/unrest on the street….

  • da yw wyth says:

    Glad you have now kindly re-visited the George – and look foward to the updated review appearing extra-fast…!

    Happy New Year

    Matt and Cat respond: Thanks for your comment. Sorry to disappoint you da yw wyth but there’s no new review of The George coming, we only went there for coffee.

  • da yw wyth says:

    Given your swift recent re-visit to a dubious High St venue, I really would urge you to do the same to this one, but in the evening. Went again last week, and can confirm that their pies are superb, piping hot, beautiful shortcrust pastry and exquisite meat – I defy you not to move it up to the “we Love” category…

  • Da yw wyth says:

    Sounds like you asked for fast food and got exactly that! Try going in the evening – have been there three times and found it superb. Soup starter had real home-made quality but was superfluous as main course was gigantic on each occasion. Both mushroomn stroganoff and steak pie were excellent, premium quality dishes, and cartons were supplied to take away the inevitable uneaten half of the meal. Formed good basis for a second meal at home the next day! After a little work you discover it’s quite a friendly place too; food is obviously enjoyed by the proprieters.

  • ACW says:

    The George is renowned for overpriced food and ale!

  • Sean Wightman says:

    I eat here on Saturday. The Scampi and Chips were £10.95 (!) so I passed on those and had double sausage egg and chips instead. The chips came in their own separate bowl and the sausages and eggs inexplicably came on a platter of their own with large salad of all things. It tasted fine. The sausage was definitely bottom of the budget range and the chips as described in Matt and Cat’s review. All food is listed as ‘freshly prepared on the premises’. I wouldn’t rule out eating here again but we definitely found a lot of the menu overpriced for what it was ie cheap basic pub grub at a not so cheap price.

    Matt and Cat note: we noted down the menu when we visited. At that time breaded whole scampi tails, with side salad, peas and choice of potatoes were £10.25. Double sausage, egg and chips was £6.25. Beer was £2.90/pint.

  • kj says:

    We often eat at one or other of these pubs when out with the kids in Newport. Not much too choose between the two, but the George has a slight edge.

    we have never been disappointed by the quality and quantity of the food (huge Jacket potatos) and the kids prefer them to the nearby McDonalds

  • Mike says:

    I remember the George when it had a very small bar where the dining area is now.It’s always been a friendly pub with many happy memories for me…thats another story. I fully agree with M & C and the food portions are ENORMOUS.

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