Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
With its sixty miles of beautiful coastline, it’s not hard to find a place to eat on the Isle of Wight that will offer...
The Woodvale, Gurnard

With its sixty miles of beautiful coastline, it’s not hard to find a place to eat on the Isle of Wight that will offer panoramic views across the Solent, the English Channel, or of Dorset, Hampshire and West Sussex’s distant shores. (Not all at once, of course!).

One such place is the Woodvale, Gurnard, from whose picture windows can be seen the distant twinkling lights and flaming chimneys of Fawley’s oil refinery peeking above the New Forest. In the mid-ground is the busy Solent and, under your nose, is the vast decked garden area of the imposing pub.

This impressive building occupies a corner plot and takes full advantage of its position, unlike the curiously orientated Somerfield Cafe in Ryde which wilfully turns its back on a jolly nice view. Despite its grandiose façade and well-kept gardens, the interior of the pub is very homely. Dark beams and olde pub ephemera add the the ambiance along with a small library of books and daily papers; a welcome touch, particularly to Matt and Cat, who are usually either extremely tardy or, as today, too early for food.

Fillet steak

Fillet steak

Whilst waiting for the kitchen to open M & C relaxed in a window seat with the Daily Diana and a view of the rapidly setting sun. A few locals propped up the bar and, as dinner time approached, the Woodvale filled up with eager diners. Matt and Cat had plenty of time to study the pub’s menu, with its clearly defined fish, steak and main meals sections, plus the specials board. The menu offered the usual burger, lasagne and fish and chips as well as the more tantalising duck breast with caramelised orange sauce, roasted vegetable and mozzarella timbale, and suet pudding with spinach, mozzarella and pine nuts.

Cat’s appetite for steak had yet to find its threshold so she pushed out the boat and had a very reasonably-priced fillet steak and chips. Matt, on the other hand, channelled his inner vegetarian for once and selected the suet pudding with spinach, mozzarella and pine nuts from the specials board.

Spinach pudding

Spinach pudding

M and C waited out the arrival of their dinner by idly studying human freaks and oddities. And no, this did not include the local journalist enjoying a quiet pint at the bar with his father, but those unfortunate souls whose tragic tales of circuses and humiliation were told in one of the pub’s more unusual library books.

Cat’s appetite was not diminished by the images of wolf-children and, before long, she was tucking into a hefty steak, with a big pile of chips and some deep-fried onion rings, mushrooms and a tomato, along with peas and an unexpected side salad. Just what the cardiologist prescribed! The soft steak had a fantastic meaty taste about it; the bloody centre offering a good dose of iron.

The pudding's insides

The pudding’s insides

Matt’s pudding looked spectacular, with a tangy tomato and herb sauce topping off a greenish-looking pud. Once opened, the insides proved to be even more interesting in appearance. A thick green brew was within, laced with pine nuts and with the consistency of pea soup. An aroma of herbs and garlic arose enticingly.

On consumption, as is often the case with veggie stuff, the pudding was very pleasant but proved to be a little less exciting than it looked. There was surely plenty of spinach in it, but it was pulverised into gruel so it merely added a green hue to proceedings. No fragments of spinach could be detected. So, what about mozzarella? After considerable investigation a few threads of cheese were located lurking at the bottom. Pine nuts aplenty, but overall the pudding was dominated by the bland and floury sauce, and a haunting taste of garlic that hang around Matt for days afterwards. Luckily the delicious and perfectly crisp suet pastry made amends.

So a pleasant meal in a pub that is designed to make you feel at home, with its cosy interior and books and puzzles to keep the most fidgety of customers in their chairs. And what a view!
The Woodvale, Gurnard

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  • samantha

    14th June 2012 #1 Author

    Never had a bad meal at the woodvale and the rooms with there stunning views were just perfect! All staff were very friendly and we were made to feel
    right at home!

    If u get a chance to try and visit highly recommended!

    Reply

  • She

    2nd January 2011 #2 Author

    Living nearby we have eaten here many times. Our main complaint is the poor selection of GOOD real ales and no availability of a sparkler, preferred by most Northerners. The ales are either weak, cold & flat or dark & christmas-puddingy. Only Julian knows how to pull the best pint or which beers would sell, but he doesn’t appear to have been consulted, sadly.
    As for the food: we have had some good meals but most have been ‘just OK’. No-one has ever asked if we are enjoying the food either during or after. The waitresses don’t always bringthe accompaniments (mango chutney etc) or know what the soup is or how the Specials are prepared.
    We had hoped to be able to take visitors there to save cooking or driving into town, but sadly the Woodvale owners haven’t got it right and we regularly decide against ‘chancing it’. They should; listen to customers comments, care if customers enjoyed their meal and be proud enough to publish their Ales on the outside blackboard.Oh and please do get rid of the ”bar flies’ that are a nuisance when trying to get to the bar and won’t move to let you reach for your drinks……Shame I would have loved to say good things about my local!

    Reply

  • roger

    11th September 2010 #3 Author

    had another good meal fish and chips my partner had salmon with pesto and mozzerella seved with salad and new pots follewed by treacle sponge and bread and butter pudding 2 pints and 2 j2os at aver reasonable £ 40.00
    EXCELLENT FOOD

    Reply

  • Alex Mander

    9th September 2010 #4 Author

    What a wonderful pub this is, situated quite a way along the front from Cowes, it was well worth the long walk. The Lasagne was cooked perfectly (not too dry or wet) and it came with chips and a very impressive salad which also included red and yellow peppers, red onion and coleslaw. The service was very good, and the staff were very friendly without being too much. I have to say the selling point for this pub has to be the views, they are absolutely stunning. An all-round great establishment.

    Reply

  • carys TURNER

    30th May 2009 #5 Author

    hello this is carys, is there anyone at this pub called tim grimstone if there is please could u email me back, becasue i think me and tim have a family connection

    Reply

  • Geoff and Sharon

    21st October 2008 #6 Author

    Went for an evening meal following your recommendation. Thank you! Outstanding. Very friendly atmosphere. Food was superb, and great value. It was a Dark and Stormy Night in October, and the pub was very cosy indeed. Rain hammering against the windows.

    Geoff had Steak & Ale Pie, Sharon had Beef in Red Wine. Our daughter Catherine had Chicken Fajitas. all the food was served promptly, piping hot and delicious. Portions were very generous.

    We happened to eat there on quiz night (Monday), and stayed for the whole thing. Brilliant.

    I would highly recommend The Woodvale.

    Reply

  • Julie Watson

    26th September 2008 #7 Author

    Had a wonderful lunch here (early september) lovely atmosphere, friendly staff, hasn’t changed a bit since visiting last year. Highly recommended.

    Reply

  • James

    2nd March 2008 #8 Author

    I’m feeling particularly warm towards the Woodvale, as I had left my booking for Mother’s day lunch rather late, and they made an effort to squeeze us in. The resultant table did not have panoramic views, but as these remained available from the bar, it would be churlish to complain.

    We eventually left, completely stuffed and a mere £35 poorer, including drinks.

    In any case, the food was the important thing, and although we were not very adventurous (roasts all round), it is sometimes an acid test of a restaurant to order the thing they produce most of. I’m happy to say that they were very good, and we were well impressed that they do a generous child’s portion – the only difference seemed to be a smaller plate and one less roast potato. The vegetables (baby carrots, cabbage and courgette) came separately, and were just right.

    They also provided proper apple sauce and horseradish in small dishes, a minor point, but definitely in their favour. The only omission was some stuffing, which we will ask about next time.

    We only just had room for desserts, but having seen other people’s puds in transit, we felt obliged to order, and excellent they were, too. We eventually left, completely stuffed and a mere £35 poorer, including drinks.

    Reply