Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
The Old Fort, Seaview The Old Fort, Seaview
Save The Old Fort, Seaview

The Old Fort is positioned to take advantage of one of the finest dining vistas on the Island, perhaps only rivalled by the Little Gloster and Ventnor’s Spyglass. On those balmy summer Seaview nights when the sea breeze allows it, you can sit right on the seawall and stare in contemplation at the panoramic view of the sun setting over distant Ryde Pier, with the endless gentle drama of the busy Solent unfolding as you sip your drink.

We were lucky enough to get one of those seaside tables one warm Saturday in June when most of the rest of the Island was busy at the Isle of Wight Festival. A cluster of languid Seaview types were enjoying leisurely dinners around us; and out to sea, the sinking sun picked out a lone swimmer enjoying an evening breaststroke amongst the bobbing buoys. Overhead, swifts screamed as they swooped and dived for flies, and the faint smell of ozone rose from the waves lapping the shore below.

The straightforward menu had a range of main courses, salads and burgers and the specials board offered a few more treats. The Old Fort has always had a bit of a soft spot for the pub curry, a much-maligned genre that deserves more attention. Often relegated to a winter special, a pub curry done well is worth the effort all year around. The Fort commendably keeps it front and centre with a chicken curry burger and beef madras on the specials.

Matt however, was not tempted by such exotica. The straightforward American burger took his fancy, and soon enough it was there in front of him, complete with a modest serving of chips and a generic coleslaw. Now the presentation of a burger is something that many kitchens afford great efforts to get right, and to give that special, distinctive twist that marks the burger out as their own. In all honesty, the Old Fort had made few such efforts. It was an unremarkable-looking burger with uninspiring accompaniments. Matt had just seen a fetching chicken curry burger going by to the next table and felt jealous. But appearances may be deceptive. Matt was mollified when he bit into the modest brioche bun. Inside it, a generous allowance of gherkin, mustard, ketchup and mayo slipped about on top of the processed cheese slices in a gratifyingly American way. The 6oz Isle of Wight beef burger was solid, hot and tasty, and Matt was appreciative. No chance of chucking bits of this enjoyable supper to the seagulls on the waves below.

Cat’s meal was better in appearance and substance. Homemade Bembridge crab cakes turned out to be three big balls of tasty crustacean: hot, herby and delicious, with visible pieces of chilli and coriander. A little plastic pot of standard sweet chilli sauce was served alongside – Cat didn’t need it, she was very happy with the crab balls. They came on a generous mixed salad, with slices of tangy seasonal radish to give an interesting and colourful variation to the standard pub leaf-mountain.

Matt and Cat’s bill
American burger £11
Bembridge crab cakes £12.50
Waffle £5.50
Cheesecake £5.50
Total: £34.50

The sun was still reaching rays across the Solent as we finished our meal with some dessert. Cat’s lemon cheesecake looked great, arriving in a little glass, with a scoop of ice cream. It was topped with a disc of sweet gelatine which she popped into Matt’s eagerly-open jelly-hole.

Matt chose Belgian waffle with salted caramel ice cream, as recommended by the cheery waitress. This came with a trip down memory lane – who remembers that chocolate ice cream sauce that goes hard when it freezes? It turns out that is still alive and well in Seaview after all these years. The waffle went down nicely.

As it has done for years, the Old Fort proved to be a fantastic venue for a relaxing seaside supper. The food was reliably good, the service was above average, and the view, well, you’d have to go a long way to beat that – especially when the lone swimmer was joined by Sir Rod Stewart‘s backing singers, who spontaneously plunged into the sea after their own Old Fort dinner.

A wonderful view across the Solent, with some enjoyable food.
  • That view
  • Pub curry a speciality
  • Not open all year around
  • Can get very busy

3 of 5

3 of 5

4 of 5

4 of 5

3 of 5


  • Will says:

    This review is rather outdated now considering new ownership / management in place… Here is the blurb from their website to whet your whistle and perhaps your appetite…

    “Under new ownership since July 2020, The Old Fort is located in the pretty picturesque sailing village of Seaview, Isle of Wight. Located right on the water’s edge on the Esplanade, The Old Fort is a multi-award winning seaside pub & restaurant nestled right at the heart of the village, with sweeping panoramic views of the Solent and beyond. With extensive redevelopment works to improve the offering and level of service to customers, including a new and improved pub and restaurant layout downstairs with an an all new open-plan bar and restaurant space upstairs, as well as improving the kitchen and cellar spaces to better suit the ‘new normal’ and cope with the huge increase in demand.

    Lifelong friends, Justin & Will took over their local pub & couldn’t be happier with the overwhelming support and response to what they have been able to achieve. Within their first year The Old Fort was crowned Best Destination Pub in 2021, and received a TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Award – an estimated 42,000 people came through the doors just last summer with the average rating of 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor, 4.5 stars on Google, 4.9 stars on Facebook and 4.59 stars on ResDiary/DishCult.

    The Old Fort is an absolutely iconic landmark within the village of Seaview and as the only pub in the village, is one of the main hubs of village life. We are fortunate enough to be surrounded by gorgeous, Insta-worthy beach and coastal walks – and over half of the Isle of Wight is protected as an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) including most of its famous coastline. We therefore are very dog-friendly and we always welcome well behaved dogs outside on our patio or downstairs in the pub (offering water bowls and snacks for any four legged-friends) but we do ask that you keep your furry friends at home if joining us in the upstairs restaurant so that those with allergies etc can also enjoy their time here.

    The island has so much to offer along its shores, coastal waters and woodlands. With an abundance of foraging, fishing and farming, the Isle of Wight is renowned for some of Britain’s best produce. With this in mind, we have appointed a new Executive Chef who together with his talented team aim to offer a mix of delicious pub classics and mouth watering daily specials, using fresh, local, seasonal produce wherever possible. During the winter months we offer delicious Sunday roast classics. We’re talking Roast Sirloin of Beef with Yorkshire puds, slow-cooked pork belly with apple sauce, chicken supreme or walnut and parsnip nut roast… During the summer months we focus on fresh fish including plenty of IOW crab and lobster and are famous for our delicious Crab Ramekin. Food is served between 12-3pm and 5:30-9pm every day and a Children’s menu and Bar Snacks menu are available all day.

    Our friendly and talented front of house team are there to serve a fantastic range of refreshments including award-winning local ales (Goddards’ Ale of Wight), craft beers (Wight Knuckle Pale Ale), dozens of delicious wines (including a new listing this year from Exton Park Vineyard in Hampshire) and of course – our signature cocktails (an East Wight Martini, Seaview Spritz or Party Starter).

    This is seaside dining at its best – all in a relaxed, cosy environment and service with a smile. But this is only the start of our journey – as we have many more exciting plans to help put The Old Fort on the map – watch this space!”

    • patrick says:

      Sadly, I found it had become rather humdrum and ordinary since the new management and re-vamp – at least the upstairs part. Perfectly fine, but not with the individual character of years gone by…

  • Roger & Sue Sharman says:

    We love The Old Fort, both for a pint when we are out for a walk and the meals (usually in the evening). Lovely food and management/staff. Missing it at the moment as closed until March for interior work. Our friends from mainland loved it November 5th when fireworks added to ambience. One of our favourite places on the island. Marks 11/10.

    • L Jones says:

      I am visiting the isle and it was a delicious first lunch! A limited menu but something for all. Friendly service (tip; order at the bar). No view unfortunately due to fog 🙁

  • David says:

    Also the old Fort is open all year round, to be food critics you need to have taste from looking at your visits to other venues it shows you don’t have it! Get real a chip shop gets 3 stars and the Fort get 3, Mickey Mouse

  • David says:

    How could you score the location 4 out of 5 where do you want to be Barbados? Local!

  • Kate says:

    Love this place – crab sandwiches are standout and all through the winter the Sunday Roast takes a lot of beating! Our favourite Sunday haunt..

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