Video review: 2014
Written review: 2007
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.
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.
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!