The Sun Inn first came to Matt and Cat’s attention some years ago when its name was splashed over the local paper. A campaign...

The Sun Inn first came to Matt and Cat’s attention some years ago when its name was splashed over the local paper. A campaign by concerned locals to prevent the ancient hostelry from being converted to a house was eventually successful, and the pub, closed for some time, reopened in a blaze of publicity. Now, at last, the time has come for Matt and Cat to investigate the rise of the Sun at Hulverstone.

The Sun Inn at Hulverstone

Hulverstone is a tiny hamlet in the heart of the coastal West Wight – prime country for Sunday afternoon touring and grand views of the sea. Matt and Cat were amongst those taking the air one Sunday afternoon, and, passing the Sun Inn, considered stopping there for lunch. The place looked packed out – the large car park was decidedly full – but, helpfully, a signboard clearly indicated that food was served from 12 noon until 9pm, every day. So, for once, tardy Matt and Cat were able to go off for a bracing walk along the shore without worrying about the kitchen closing. After a good poke around on the beach at nearby Fort Victoria Country Park, the pair returned to the Sun Inn to find the Sunday lunch rush over, and the pub quiet and welcoming.

The Sun is a pub of two halves – and that does not just refer to the fine beers they keep. The original old inn, dating back to the 1400s, is still intact and forms a snug and characterful bar area, with a fireplace and comfy seating. Matt and Cat entered the little bar to find it full of atmosphere. A couple of old chaps were garrulously chatting over their pipes in one corner, whilst a young couple gazed soulfully over their untouched drinks in another. The cheery barman welcomed the visitors and confirmed that food was still available. After some debate Matt and Cat decided they would sit elsewhere in the pub to eat, to avoid the pervading miasma of the old fellows’ pipes. On leaving the cosy bar, it seemed as though they had been transported into another pub entirely. In this newer half of the pub, spacious rooms with big windows allowed spectacular views across the English Channel to Dorset. Plenty of dining tables and the usual slightly soul-less paraphernalia of a family dining pub gave a very contrasting feel. Added to this were generic floral prints, interspersed with the inevitable ceramic straw boater and miscellaneous leather horse-tackery on the walls, and some rather penetrating 1980s piped music. To the strains of the Phil Collins dirge ‘Groovy Kind of Love’, Matt and Cat took their seats.

The menu (available online if you care to look) consisted of pub grub staples, including burgers, jacket potatoes, and an impressive grill section. Prominent was a commendable credit for local produce, with the locally produced faggots getting special mention.

More unusual was the substantial specials board, which had quite a few interesting and inviting choices on it. Matt chose from this range griddled pork steak with port sauce and cashews. Cat, after vacillating desperately between the Sunday roast lamb or a chicken burger, uncharacteristically went for the burger from the standard menu.

The splendid views kept your reviewers entertained whilst the food was prepared. On delivery it proved to be – perhaps in imitation of the pub – a meal of two halves. Matt was delighted with his pork steak. A small but beautifully presented tasty and tender cut, with a sliver of crispy fat on the outside, the meat was complemented by a generous sprinkling of toasted cashew nuts which made a novel and very enjoyable taste combination. The port sauce was scant and quite subtle, keeping the food moist without drowning the delicate flavour of the main elements. It was served with a small but diverse bowl of vegetables, and some rather ordinary chips which did not manage to compromise Matt’s enjoyment of an unexpectedly good dish.

Cat, by contrast, found her chicken burger uninspiring. A small but fresh salad – with no raw onion – and the same nondescript chips went alongside a standard sesame bun which contained two processed chicken burgers in batter. Hoping for a chicken breast in the bun, Cat was rather crestfallen to be presented with this. The salad was nice, with a liberal sprinkling of cress – one of Cat’s favourites – but, as soon as the meal was placed in front of her she knew she should’ve had the roast lamb after all. Just to make matters worse, the plate the dinner was served on bore subtle traces of a previous meal. Admittedly the price of the burger and chips was less than the pork, but the contrast between the quality of the two meals was striking and surprising.

When the time came to settle up and leave the comfortable hostelry, Matt and Cat were entertained by a misprint on their receipt:

Chicken Bugger...!

The Sun Inn proved to be an enjoyable pub in many ways. If you were to average out a splendid meal with a pretty mediocre one, you’d probably end up concluding that the Sun was a good enough place to eat. The pub is in a great location with spectacular views and plenty of outside seating for more clement days. It is obviously a very popular venue for the Sunday lunch crowd and the menu advises booking a table for a meal at this busy time. The staff clearly can produce excellent food at good prices; perhaps if they could make their standards more consistent they’ll really be able to shine.
The Sun Inn at Hulverstone

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  • MikeW

    21st July 2012 #1 Author

    We’ve always had a soft spot for this pub. Had a meal this week with some friends, and whilst there was nothing major *wrong* (although a couple said their food was only average), it didn’t have much atmosphere: felt like just a few tables of diners and the evening was over…..

    Reply

  • Lester

    2nd July 2012 #2 Author

    Says on The Sun Inn website the current owners have “the objective of turning The Sun into the best county pub and restaurant on the Island”. What a joke. It’s not even the best pub in Hulverstone!

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  • Peterkirchem

    25th May 2012 #3 Author

    The only restaurant I have ever been to where after having food delivered to the table was told by the waitress to walk back into the restaurant (we were sitting outside) to get my own knife and fork. Quite extraordinary.
    As for the meal … Never again!

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  • Tina and Alan

    19th August 2011 #4 Author

    Had a really lovely meal at the Sun Inn yesterday. There were 6 of us and we all really enjoyed it, we had a nice window seat from which you could see seaviews and country views. The steak & guinness pie was delish! Really tender chunks of steak. Veg was fresh and cooked just right. Cod & Chorizo fishcakes, I am reliably told, were also excellent as was the rare breed sausage and mash. Four of us ordered dessert but unfortunately my father in law’s ice cream never emerged, even after us reminding them about it. So in the end we just cancelled it. But the other desserts turned up and were lovely! They did apologise about the ice cream, and it was the only blip in an otherwise excellent meal. Would definitely go back.

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  • Geoff & Eileen Barnett

    18th June 2011 #5 Author

    Me and Wife and Belle the black cocker spaniel went to The Sun last week for an evening Meal and we couldn’t fault it. The service was second to none brilliant and That Steak and Ale Pie was unbelievable, real beautiful steak. We were so inpressed we returned the next night , The Ham and Eggswere equel to the pie.
    We will be returning no doubt about that. Thanks Lesley to your great service and beatiful place. Geoff

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  • Kathy

    3rd April 2011 #6 Author

    We visited the Sun Inn Hulverstone on Sat 12 Feb 2011. Both had sea bass with spicy noodles – first class food, lovely location, friendly service – definitely go back when next on island.

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  • Miss Food Critique

    7th March 2011 #7 Author

    I ate here in the spring of 2009. I was really quite hungry so ordered a cheese jacket potatoe. The pub was really empty, with only a few people in for drinks. I waited about 15 minutes and was getting impatient. It then got to half an hour, so I decided to ask what was happening as I was in a rush. When I got to the bar, the head chef was sat there casually chatting to staff. I was ignored for several minutes while they finished their conversation. I then asked when the jacket potatoe would be ready, and they chef said he didn’t know anything about it! They forgot and were to busy! I got my money back and left! Think the staff need a good kick to pay attention to their customers…

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  • mistyboy

    3rd March 2011 #8 Author

    Nice to see an honest admission from the owners and some improvements en route.. My family and I love to drive out from ventnor to this Pub, always goes down a treat with visitors, but I would just add again it would be a real plus to have a least repeat drinks orders serviced from the table. Nothing worse than having to leave a meal and in a queue at the bar. A small change but a real bonus for your customers…

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  • mark blanchard

    3rd March 2011 #9 Author

    well, i have to say that i am truly impressed with the amount of attention that we have recieved. My wife Lesley and i purchased the business in 2009 with no industry experience but we knew that we wanted to improve the standards all round. We are always looking for ways that we can improve our business and welcome any feedback good or bad!!There are a few valid points detailed above, for example we have recently encouraged our Head Chef to start offering our own beer battered fish as i have always believed that we should do. We are determined to offer every customer a top class pub/restaurant experience and we will always do our utmost to ensure that customers are happy. If you visit our lovely establishment, which we believe has some of the best views on the Island please let us know if you have a problem and we will wherever possible correct it for you. Kind regards, Mark

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  • Jim

    16th December 2010 #10 Author

    A group of us visited The Sun at Hulverstone for lunch after a winter walk earlier this week. Nice setting,however, nearly all our meals (only simple things like soup and jacket potatoes) arrived cold. To be fair, we didn’t complain as we should have done but to get a whole group’s (10 of us)order so wrong takes some doing. Won’t bother again.

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  • fairfoodfairy

    11th October 2010 #11 Author

    Tried The Sun only to discover that as not big fans of microwaved food (call us health freaks if you wish!) that only the steaks and chicken breast were freshly prepared…Amongst our party there were orders of vegetable thai curry – a tiny portion and mostly rice, chicken breast with bacon and blue cheese – fabulous blue cheese but bacon so salty it was inedible, portion of vegetables was tiny and overcooked. Agree earlier comment re drinks orders – a real pain having to leave your meal to queue for drinks. Expensive for the quality given – won’t be returning. What I would class as a ‘touristy’ pub where they don’t worry if you return or not…..

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  • Laura

    11th September 2010 #12 Author

    I had a similar experience to Robin Hull (above). Traditional fish is definately a frozen piece and was not cooked properly the first time (rubbery and cold in places) so meal had to be returned and redone. In fairness this was done with no queries from the waitress but no one came to check if the replacement meal was any better. My husband enjoyed the pie but the veg was overcooked to the point of mushiness which let the whole meal down. At £9.50 for each meal I would expect more attention to quality.
    It was just silly little things let this place down for me and I won’t be returning- I just didn’t feel particularly welcome as a customer.

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  • Robin Hull

    11th September 2010 #13 Author

    OMG – This restaurant was truly below par. Despite fantastic reviews, we (Robin, Cheryl and Holly) really didn’t think it was that great! We visited on 19 August 2010.

    The staff were friendly but, on the night we went, they didn’t appear to care whether you enjoyed your meal or not!

    Cheryl ordered the crab salad, Holly had ‘traditional Fish and Chips’ and I had the steak.

    The Fish and Chips were not fresh, probably supplied by Brake Brothers. Cooked somewhere else, flash frozen and reheated. No kids size portion available because the ‘suppliers’ only supply one size – frozen!

    The crab salad itself was adequate but it was obvious the ‘prawns’ were frozen and then defrosted in water. They had no flavour at all and added little to the meal.

    One saving grace was the steak. Good local meat (?) but it could have been trimmed better. There’s nothing nice about a blob of uncooked fat!

    The chips too were below par and had, no doubt, come from the same supplier as the frozen fish.

    The final let -down came in the way of the dessert. Holly ordered the vanilla ice cream. Expecting a bowl-full of locally produced stuff we were truly disappointed when a cardboard tub (complete with lid and plastic spoon) arrived. Dumped on an oval plate with a raspberry sauce and a biscuit twirl – the chef hadn’t (or couldn’t) even be bothered to turn it out into a little dish.

    The restaurant was very busy and full of diners, but that is no excuse for a lazy chef!

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  • Nick Churchill

    2nd August 2010 #14 Author

    My Fiancee Nicky and I took our friends Tony and Adie to the Sun on Sat 31st July. We booked in advance to ensure that we got a table in the original part of the Pub, by far the best place to dine as you are surrounded by history! When we arrived we found our table easily, my name was on the table and bar service was swift with very attentive staff. (my only comment about the drinks is that even though I ordered the same drinks 4 times I was charged a different price everytime!! (I know I should have commented at the time but hey ho I didn’t) anyway perhaps someone needs to check the till computer as the night goes on it gets more expensive!.

    Moving onto the food. Once we had decided on our order we placed it with Leslie the owner at the till in the new part of the pub. I ordered Black Pudding with Cranberry and a Ribeye with new pots and salad, Tony had Cajun Potato wedges and a ribeye (blue), Adie had Whitebait followed by a ribeye (blue) and Nicky had Whitebait followed by Chicken breast topped with bacon and Isle of Wight blue cheese.

    Starters delivered in double quick time by a delightfully chatty waitress and I have to say the my black pudding was delicious my companions all expressed delight with their starters as well.

    Obviously someone was keeping an eye because within a few minutes of our plates being empty they were cleared away.

    Our mains were then delivered and I have to say that they all looked wonderful, as well as the new potatoes and salad (dressed to perfection) the ribeyes were also accompanied by mushrooms, onion rings and grilled tomatoes. Oh and steak knives were provided without being asked for (see carols comment)

    My steak was delicious as was Tony’s and Nicky’s chicken was pronounced delicious but I regret to say that Adie discovered that that after eating a proportion of her steak that the meat was off. Now I have to say that to her credit Leslie the owner came over after being informed and was full of apologies and immediately refunded the cost and offered a replacement of Adie’s choice which at the time was refused. The chatty waitress also commented that she reckoned that perhaps that particular steak had been hiding in the box…could this be the same lady that commented on the moules from an earlier revue I wonder?

    We hadn’t planned on staying but as it was now 9pm and they had live music on we thought that we would, the opening number from the lone singer (I missed his name but he was not ‘as billed’) was a self penned number called ‘Father Christmas is dead, because I cut off his head’ had us and the rest of the bar roaring with laughter we decided to stay.

    Adie about an hour later decided to have some cheede and biscuits, 4 pieces of brie and four biscuits from a shop bought variety packet a pickles onion and butter was procured for a very expensive £4.75. Shame she wasn’t given it for nothing considering the previous problem but hey ho!

    To sum up, despite the problem, the food was excellent, well cooked and presented, brilliant entertainment too and we will be returning to the Sun when we are down next in October, I did tell staff this when I was leaving, I also hope that the singer we saw, what was his name??? is there again when we go down he was one of the highlights of the weekend….a big thumbs up to the Sun Inn!!!

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  • Angela

    12th July 2010 #15 Author

    We had a wonderful evening meal there on 4th July. It was the best meal of the week, and the service was excellent.

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  • Mistyboy

    26th October 2009 #16 Author

    We sampled sunday lunch this weekend .The staff and I assume owner ( welcoming lady ) were very attentive. We wanted to try the roasts and she said we might be unlucky with a 3 pm booking. When we arrived she managed to establish there were 15 left . 5 of us for lunch .. we could cope with that!

    …portion sizes were a bit disappointing and the vegetables I would say overcooked and unappetising

    Fairly long delay with the food, although the dining rooms were emptying, but generally well worth the wait. Good portions. A few little whinges. Ordered roast pork and lamb but were not offered any sauces, had to ask, and the veg choice and portion sizes were a bit disappointing and the vegetables I would say overcooked and unappetising. This place is obviously very popular and I wish the lovely new owners every success in working hard to get everything to a top notch level. One suggestion , lots of staff floating around. Having to leave the table every 15 minutes to order drinks and /or food is a an undesirable disruption. Taking orders from the table would make the whole experience more enjoyable. Nevertheless, we’ll be back again soon to sample some of the other temptations on the menu.

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  • Wendy

    10th October 2009 #17 Author

    Just back from a lovely meal at the Sun Inn, Hulverstone – nicest pub meal I’ve had in a long time. Cajun red snapper fillet with roast cherry tomatoes in a balsamic dressing, with buttery new potatoes and salad was superb; gorgeous flavours, perfectly done, and for the quality very reasonable at £10.95. (Only minus point was raw red onion included in the salad – like Cat, I’m not a fan.) Ian had steak with veg and chips (gorgeous – I sampled a few) and was equally impressed with the quality of the meal. My son chose moules marinieres with crusty home-made brown bread from the starter menu, and wolfed them down. Dipping a corner of bread into the sauce I was mmmm-ing for the next five minutes. Delicious.

    The desserts weren’t quite so stunning. The home-made citrus cheesecake wasn’t quite tangy enough for Ian’s taste, and my apple strudel was slightly lacking in flavour, though undoubtedly hearty.
    But overall a very good meal, with a lot of thought and care put into it. Attentive and friendly service, too. Great to see that with the change of management this year the Sun has gone from serving ordinary pub grub, to being a cut above. I’ll definitely return.
    Suggest you re-visit it Matt and Cat!

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  • mark blanchard

    2nd September 2009 #18 Author

    Thanks for all of the feedback everyone, My Wife Lesley and I purchased the business in February 2009 and have placed a lot of emphasis on the food and on our staff. We always encourage customers to let us know if there are any problems in order that we can correct them immediately. Our focus is on quality local ingredients from suppliers such as the Isle of Wight Cheese Company and Chapel Furlong Farm, as well as Chilton Farm Ice Cream. Since employing a new Head Chef in June we have had lots of positive feedback and we look forward to improving our service and menu further over the coming months.

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  • Carol

    27th August 2009 #19 Author

    A group of us visited. I had a lovely rib eye steak off the specials board, accompanied by salad and jacket potatoes. Its a shame that you have to request steak knives. Others enjoyed their meals too.

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  • ACW

    10th July 2009 #20 Author

    What a lovely retort from the waitress. Obviously the 10 ‘offenders’ have done you no harm!

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  • kirsty

    10th July 2009 #21 Author

    I went to the Sun Inn for lunch a few weeks and ordered moules and frites. The sauce was loveley but of 24 moules, 10 were closed and shouldn’t have been served. When I informed the waitress her only comment was “The little buggers!”
    We won’t be going again.

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  • Tommmmmyyyyy

    8th May 2009 #22 Author

    BRILLLLL

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  • Neville Westlake

    7th December 2008 #23 Author

    I visited the Sun at Hulverstone for a Sunday meal with my wife, and was treated to a fair amount of stupidity and unwelcomness by the staff, who though it was quite funny to insult me when I asked politely for two roast meals.
    These staff were obviously members of the owners family who instead of not trying to offer service in a pub, should be up up in the City working as Traders, and not offering their unique form of upperclassness to what is a very nice pub in a lovely area.
    Thank you. I will not be visiting again !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • neil julie helen chris bullock

    26th August 2007 #24 Author

    Always worth a visit for the truly wonderful views and excellent beers. Lunchtime sandwiches are generous and good vslue.

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  • Observer

    13th April 2007 #25 Author

    We had a reasonably enjoyable meal at the Sun recently. However my wife was a bit miffed by the comments on the menu regarding how ‘well done’ the steak should be. The inference was : If you don’t like your steak rare, then please try a burger instead. Well I’m sorry, but any chef who can’t cook a steak properly without ruining it should consider getting a job in France. To add insult to injury the vegetables that they served up were, to coin a phrase ” boiled to buggery” This hasn’t put us off eating there. The prices were reasonable, the staff friendly, I just wish they wouldn’t try & inflict their strange views on cooking on their customers.

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