What a continental sight; Newport’s St Thomas Square on a hot day. The farmer’s market was in full swing, lunchtime drinkers – and smokers...

What a continental sight; Newport’s St Thomas Square on a hot day. The farmer’s market was in full swing, lunchtime drinkers – and smokers – were crowding the tables outside the Wheatsheaf, and Matt and Cat had plonked themselves down at a jammy table outside a little pasty shop called The Square.

The Square, Newport

M and C had been running out of ideas for places to eat in the big metropolis and were pleased that the Yellow Pages had offered up this pasty shop as a lunchtime venue. There’s one other untried place in Buzby‘s book, and a good few more which don’t appear in it, but once they’re reviewed then Matt and Cat will have to revisit Newport’s eateries (though probably not the place that started it all off: Sainsbury’s – Gawd help us!).

Prawn sandwich

Cat went into the tiny shop at The Square to find out what was on offer and to find a damp cloth for the jammy smears. When she returned to the table, it was already being cleaned by a very friendly chap.

On one wall of the pasty shop a comprehensive list of tantalising sandwiches, baguettes and, of course, Cornwall’s finest meat pies is writ large. Cat quite liked the idea of avocado salad. However, one thing was missing from the menu and that was the prices. The annotated food list was a dog-eared, stained sheet of paper. Still, it was very functional, if a little soiled.

Matt and Cat’s bill
Beef & Stilton pasty £3.35
Prawn sandwich £3.75
Tea £1.60
Coke £1.40
Beef and Stilton pasty

Matt chose a beef and Stilton pasty, and Cat went for a prawn sandwich. They sat in the shade of the square, watching the hubbub of Newport pass by, and nodding in greeting to a few acquaintances. All very civilised, so long as one disregarded the pint-swigging mothers yelling at their children as they disported in the sun.

Before long, the polite young man returned with the food. Cat’s prawn sandwich in marie-rose sauce came with a modest salad garnish and coleslaw, and contained plenty of prawns. With a can of coke to wash it down Cat was relatively happy. (The drink was a pub-priced £1.40. Cat had to ask for a glass, then another as the first had several chips around the rim).

Matt’s pasty was nicely warm, but clearly this was a morsel which had been prepared a while ago. It was smooth, remarkably regular, and looked very much the factory-produced pasty rather than anything made by hand. The menu promised ‘home-baked Cornish pasties’, which, whilst entirely true seemed a little disingenuous, as whilst they’d doubtless been baked at The Square, they must have been made far away – maybe even in Cornwall. He fished the bag out of the cup and washed the pasty down with a cup of tea.

Inside, the disappointment continued. Decent enough pastry contained a copious helping of potato, a less copious fragment or two of carrot, and even less meat. If half-a-dozen crumbs of beef had been in this pasty Matt would have been surprised. On further investigation the interweb reveals that a genuine Cornish pasty should contain no less than 12.5% beef. The pasty tasted fine, and the Stilton was just about discernible too, but really, this was a potato pasty with meat flavouring.

Matt and Cat ate up and wandered back to work. Their meal was not unpleasant, and was politely served. It cost them over ten pounds – which seemed pretty expensive, even to sit in perhaps one of the best locations in Newport. For a similar price there are a handful of places, some even visible from The Square, which offer better value.

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  • HungryPeter

    10th March 2013 #1 Author

    Never has the humble pastie been exalted to such heights!(by the vendor).It may be fashionable to pay too much for pastry and potato, but I like value for money! I will not return.

    Reply