Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
Video review: 2014 Written review: 2007 The Roman villa at Brading was built on the site of an Iron Age farm, which was...

Video review: 2014

Written review: 2007

Brading Roman Villa

The Roman villa at Brading was built on the site of an Iron Age farm, which was positioned to take full advantage of the harbour situated between Sandown and Bembridge.

The Romans certainly chose a good spot for a tea room; the villa’s Forum Cafe is positioned on the west side of the building, perfect for enjoying the view across to Sandown. It’s very likely that those early inhabitants of the villa enjoyed al fresco meals in the late afternoon sunshine, just as Matt and Cat did one unexpectedly balmy October day.

Tea for two

Lunching late as usual, Matt and Cat were pleased to see signs proclaiming the cafe open until 4:00pm. However, on closer inspection, it seems that the last orders for food is 3:00pm and hot food is discontinued even earlier. Having girded themselves for steak or goats cheese ciabatta, or maybe salmon and dill tagliatelle or even baked camembert filled with cranberry sauce, your reviewers were forced to turn their attention to the cold dishes. There was still a reasonable amount of choice including baguettes, sandwiches and salads, all with various fillings. And so it was tuna mayonnaise sandwich for Cat and ham baguette for Matthew, and a pot of tea for two.

Tuna sandwich

Tuna sandwich
Ham baguette

Ham baguette

The tea came in a nice china pot with hot water and milk, cups and saucers – just the thing. It was such a warm afternoon that Matt and Cat decided to sit at the cafe’s terrace in the hazy sunshine. From there they had a fine view of the nearby fields which were full of birds and, in the far distance was the spire of St John the Evangelist church in Sandown.

The Romans must have had a pretty good life in this spot with their farm produce, local oysters and imported olives. Matt and Cat’s tuna must have come from far-away seas too.

Both meals came with side salad which was pretty standard fare (complete with raw onion). Although Cat did express delight at the tomatoes as they were very tasty and at room temperature. Cat has a particular preference for ambient-temperatured salad and some foods – red wine and cheese, for example – should always be served in this way.

Other than that, the sarnies were pretty run-of-the-mill (although someone had been a bit heavy-handed with the mayonnaise in the tuna). There were plenty of scrummy-looking cakes to be had and Matt and Cat would liked to have tried some of the hot food, particularly the Roman special of the day. However, if baked dormice were on offer, it is most likely that Matt and Cat would have called the Police Wildlife Liaison Officer for crimes against a European protected species!

  • rambler says:

    Thank you for the explanation / apology. Mistakes can happen anywhere – it’s how they are handled that matters. We will be back. Proprietors of ; ‘Culver Down’ , ‘Blacksmiths Arms’, ‘Mama Mia’ etc take note of how to handle customer feedback!

  • chris says:

    really sorry that you didn’t have a good experience at Brading Roman Villa Forum cafe.
    we really do try to look after all our customers, but, on that particular day, the people serving were training on the till and their attention was elsewhere. our fault and we do apologise.
    please visit Brading Roman Villa site again and have what we hope will be a lovely eating experience with us.

  • rambler says:

    A bit disappointing; we’ve always found Brading Villa to be warm, welcoming with good basic winter’comfort food’. Today, ‘greeted’ (if that’s the word) by two young ladies engrossed at the till – no ‘sorry for waiting’, no eye contact, distinct lack of customer care. Coffees brought to the table, slopped all over the saucer and dumped on the table without comment. Food standards have taken a dive too. Have there been staff changes? A pity; we don’t expect ‘Ritz’ style service- just basic courtesy.

  • Dave says:

    Why would the Romans leave broken marble floors in order for you to access the restaurant? I don’t understand. Is this some nefarious plot orchestrated by that cad Berlusconi?

  • Ken says:

    We eat lunch there about once a fortnight. The main meals are fine, parking is free, the views from the terrace and the restaurant are lovely and you don’t have to pay to look at broken marble floors left by the Romans in order to access the restaurant.

  • John says:

    Whilst walking on Brading Down, we saw Brading Roman Villa & decided to stroll down.It was our first visit and we were delighted with our lunch,so much so,we returned 4 days later and were suitably impressed once again.Excellent home cooked fresh produce,excellent service (happy staff)and very reasonable prices.I urge you to take another visit,but remember, last orders are 3pm.

  • Wendy says:

    Why I’ve never visited Brading Roman Villa before, I’m not sure, but today I put it right and visited with my son and my mother-in-law. Went to the café first, which was very busy on a damp Good Friday, but we found a table. I was keen on the menu, which had several tasty-sounding veggie options. I plumped for the roast vegetable and goat’s cheese bake for £6.95 – a generous portion of roast leeks, sweet potato, mushroom, and courgettes in olive oil topped with plentiful creamy cheese and served with a fresh side salad. The only negative, as Joanna has mentioned, is that you have to then pay 50p for salad dressing, which comes in a far larger jug than you’d possibly use. Would make more sense to serve a tiny dish of the stuff alongside for no additional charge.

    My son went for his default choice of tuna sandwich, and my mother-in-law for the soup. Both happy. Can see why it’s a popular venue.

    Then on to look at the villa itself, which was excellent.

  • Joanna says:

    I often go to the Villa for lunch or to taste the best coffee on the Island (in my opinion.) The food is always fresh and the service always good, but… 50P if you want a jug of French Dressing! What do others think of this?

  • Samantha says:

    We go to the Roman villa often for a cup of tea and lunch, we like it as their sausages are isle of wight and being dedicated eaters of IoW produced meat only its great for us. The food is basic , but then it is a cafe/tea room not a 5*place. The food is good, the staff are friendly and it just a nice place to go.

  • Stephen John says:

    We have had good cooked meals at the Roman Villa including specials of the day.

    One odd thing is that the lunch special menu is not available until mid day when they start serving the specials. Why they can’t make known the specials before noon is baffling.

  • The Wildlife Gardener says:

    How nice to see someone appreciating a room temperature tomato – they should never be kept in a fridge (unless they are soft or split and you don’t want them to go mouldy).
    Also, did you know that the stuffing Romans used to put in their dormice was called Farto?

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