Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
The capacious Bugle Coaching Inn in Yarmouth’s pretty town square was the venue for a Sunday lunchtime liaison. The welcoming pub has cosy nooks,...

The capacious Bugle Coaching Inn in Yarmouth’s pretty town square was the venue for a Sunday lunchtime liaison. The welcoming pub has cosy nooks, a proper bar serving good beer, a light and airy conservatory indoors and a pleasant courtyard garden outside. Matt and Cat sat with a friend in the non-smoking area and, once their introductory pleasantries were over, set to the serious business of choosing food.

Having consumed copious amounts the previous evening, Cat, in particular, was after something moderate and wholesome. Scanning the menu and passing over the baked potatoes, burgers and other pub fare, Cat finally found what she was looking for – a side salad; hopefully full of vitamins and nice and cheap at £2.95. Matt was not feeling quite so restrained despite the excesses of food and drink less than 24 hours earlier. He was taken with the baked potato with chicken, coriander and lime mayonnaise. M and C’s companion had his head turned by the specials board but eventually went with that pub standard: burger and chips.

Whilst waiting to be served at the bar, Cat observed a patron lean conspiratorially to the barman and say, “you’ve got that food critic Matt in here today”. Fame and glory at last (although there was no mention of “that Cat”).

Remarkably, after such excitement, Cat remembered to ask for her salad without raw onion and cucumber. A medium sized bowl of fresh and crispy iceberg lettuce arrived, adorned with quartered tomatoes and a topping of home-made coleslaw. It might have been a little more interesting if there had been at least another type of leaf such as rocket, spinach or even round lettuce. However, if Cat would insist on going ‘off-menu’ by rejecting nearly 50% of the salad’s ingredients, she couldn’t really complain that the remaining three ingredients rendered the salad unimaginative.

So, to Matt and his potato. It looked pretty good; the average-sized spud was accompanied by the same fresh and crispy salad that Cat had chosen but with raw onion and cucumber as bonus ingredients (Cat’s thrill at her reviewing partner being recognised meant that she forgot to specify onion-free salad for him). The potato was topped with a big dollop of chicken and mayonnaise. Disappointingly, there seemed to be no sign or taste of the promised coriander and lime. Matt even offered it around to see if his companions could detect a hint of these elusive flavours. Alas not. However, right at the end of his meal, he bit into a lime pip – proof, indeed, that the chicken and mayonnaise must have once been in the presence of what was presumably the world’s most discreet-tasting citrus fruit.

The final dish on the table was the modest-sized burger and chips. Not wanting to appear rude, Matt and Cat did not help themselves to a taste as they normally would with each other’s meals, but waited to be told how it was. The chips were declared nice and fluffy, the burger pretty standard and the meal was considered not really worth the £7.95 paid.

So, despite the establishment being given the ‘heads-up’ that food critics were in the building, perhaps the message didn’t make its way to the kitchens as Matt and Cat got no preferential treatment with their meals (and, indeed, did not expect any). Still, the service was prompt and the surroundings very restful. However, the experience led to a lively – and so far unresolved – debate about whether a pretty average meal in a very nice location is better or worse than a very nice meal in a pretty average location.
The Bugle Coaching Inn, Yarmouth

  • dirwin says:

    Never again. Ordered four starters and four mains. The first starter arrived, was eaten and the plate removed before the other three arrived some ten minutes later. The main course smelt and tasted that it had been cooked in old oil. After that we did not order a dessert, we informed the waitress of the quality of the service and food and left.

  • Geoff&Sarah says:

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – probably best meal of our week’s stay.
    Went here for a lunchtime in Jubilee week. Great food and good service and reasonable prices too.
    Must say the bread that came with starters is gorgeous. Would say though that you do have to be hungry!! We both had the potted crab (lovely)as a starter – it was probably main course sized – did make it difficult to get through the bourgignon (again superb) but, dear reader, you’ll be pleased to hear that I managed it!
    Right, back to the gym to work this one off!! 🙂

  • Jacqueline Chambers says:

    Well, went in here just for a drink at lunchtime saw the food and decided to have lunch. Very very yummy, proper bead for the egg sarnie, great side salad . Would recommend it! Will def try an evening meal there.

  • da yw wyth says:

    Went here on a quiet evening in February. Not planning to, but running later than planned.

    Was delighted with the reault – the best pub lasagna I’ve ever had – actually tasted home-made – plus a generous hunk of bread and a proper non-fussy salad.

  • Sniggup says:

    I was interested to see the most recent comment about the Bugle from Phil and it started very positively, much like our visit. We were out for the day with friends from Newcastle doing the statutory tour of the island and ended up in Yarmouth on a blisteringly cold Monday lunchtime, from our previous experiences The Bugle would not have been our first choice, but in Yarmouth on a Monday you do not have much choice. We were pleased to be out of the wind with three very small children and the pub was very warm and cosy. We found a good spot for the children out of the way of the other customers. Took the potty trained one to the loo and could smell the stench of urine all of the way up the corridor to the Ladies, however the Ladies were clean..
    Perused the traditional pub grub menu and were mildly alarmed at the price of the meals which are fairly standard fare but approx. £3 more per dish than our preferred pub. The meals really did not justify the inflated price. I am aware of how much these meals cost to produce and the amount needed to be charged to achieve a decent GP and cannot see how these prices can be justified. My Geordie Friend said it is well known that island prices are inflated according to the fact that tourists will pay these prices…disappointed is all I can say.

  • Phil says:

    My wife and I went last week for a lunch time meal.It was very cold outside and the bar was very warm with a log fire and the atmosphere very welcoming.We both had the same meal cod and chips.The meal was served in a nice time but to our surprise we had 2 bits of fish each.I said to the waitress why 2 each and she didn’t know.When I started eating, the fish tasted a bit old and stale so I suspect the fish was on its last legs so to speak.
    The meal was to me 5 out of 10 marks .I thought it was a bit expensive £27 40 for 2 fish and chips one bitter shandy and a spritzer for my wife. As usual with pubs the condiments were those horrid sachets of tomato sauce etc.

  • M&R says:

    Just got back from an early dinner at the Bugle. We usually go to the wheatshef when in Yarmouth which is a while ago as our latest child is only just eating out trained. However we discovered it has been refurb to a taste not to our liking. Family conservatory seems to have gone so decided to try the Bugle. Our latest performed well but as for the food. The worst pub food on the Island so far. Cod and chips – wife still trying to get the taste of old oil out of her mouth, my steak pie cold and dolloped on a cold plate, the kids lasange, once the inch of cheese were removed was ok. ( feedback from a 2 year old) The 5 year old not so keen. Staff took away the vast remains of our food without comment. What a shame as the place looked the part.

  • Wendy says:

    I met my aunt at the Bugle for lunch today (her suggestion, as she was coming over from Lymington and it was close to the ferry) but I have to agree with the other comments so far: it was humdrum. My vegetable bake was overly salty, with the aubergine chunks on the “rare” side, and a fresh but very plain accompanying salad. My daughter’s haddock bake was heavy on the mash topping and very light on the haddock. My aunt’s bangers and mash were pronounced good, though she would rather it hadn’t been so smothered in cooked onions. The best meal was her companion’s: he had a very generous portion of liver and bacon with his mash and had no niggles. Service was pleasant enough, but no-one asked if everything was okay. Tea was a dunked teabag, with little milk cartons, rather than a pot and jug.
    Verdict: it was so-so. I wouldn’t rush back.

  • Peter E Dant says:

    Following from Kevin and Jeanette’s comment I took my cousin (a visitor) to the Bugle on a trip around the Island. He ordered a pasta and I tried the haddock and leek pie. His was dry, with too much pasta and little sauce, while my experience of the pie was exactly as Jeanette’s. The prices were suitable for the view Yarmouth has of itself, so I will make sure I never take a visitor there again.

  • Kevin and Jeanette (visitors) says:

    We visited the Bugle Inn, Yarmouth for an evening meal on 8th July 2007. Kevin ordered the cod and chips (very disappointing since this turned out to be a frozen portion of fish and we were only 30 yards from the sea!!) Jeanette ordered the homemade smoked haddock and leek fish pie. Another big mistake!! This turned out to be a bowl of mush with some small pieces of flaked smoked haddock with some leeks topped with – wait for it!! potato out of a packet. Won’t be going back there as the prices were not cheap for the quality of food and the poor service.

  • david smith says:

    As a holiday maker every year I vist your Island and serch for good food sometime we find a great place only to find the next year all has changed.We have visted most of the places you mention.NOT THE BURGER BARS. The bugle isone we have been to twice and have found it just like you.. We would rather have good food served well than a nice location.We shall be on the Island in August and will eat out everynight and will let you know how we get on

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