Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
Playing grockles is fun, as Matt and Cat found out one summer’s day. Following a delightful walk up Mottistone Down to take in the...

Playing grockles is fun, as Matt and Cat found out one summer’s day. Following a delightful walk up Mottistone Down to take in the breath-taking views of the ‘back of the Wight’, they ventured to the nearby thatched mecca of Brighstone in search of a cream tea. Brighstone Tea Gardens came recommended and certainly looked inviting from the outside and, to the joy of your ever-tardy reviewers, it was still open for business at 3:30pm, proclaiming cream teas until 5:00pm on the board outside. However, once inside, Matt and Cat were turned away – the establishment was due to close unexpectedly early. Pah.

Three Bishops, Brighstone

A short stroll up the road and M and C found themselves at the Three Bishops, a vast pub with a big sunny garden and food served from noon to 9:00pm – how could they resist? Entering the slightly scruffy bar which, despite the recent smoking ban had a residual whiff of cigarettes in the air, they were greeted by a very cheerful man. He turned out to be the new owner of the bar, quick to announce his plans for refurbishing the place (plans he has been mentioning since late 2006 according to this website). Still, his intentions are laudable, his manner was very welcoming and the kitchen was still open so Matt and Cat decided to stay.

There were plenty of main meals to choose from on both the regular menu and the specials board. There was also homemade soup of the day – this day’s being ham and pea – plus a good range of snacks such as sandwiches, baguettes and jacket potatoes. There were many combinations of fillings for the above including crab, sausage and mushroom, garlic chicken, cheese and chutney, Stilton and BLT. However, having braced themselves for tea and cake, Matt and Cat decided to forego a big meal and opted for light bites: Cat chose prawn sandwich, Matt a cheese burger and chips (M’s idea of light bite!). The snack menu’s food was at give-away prices: sandwiches £3.45, baguettes £3.95 and jacket potatoes £4.45. Would the food be as meagre as the prices?

Matt and Cat forewent the interior of the pub – although not for lack of places to sit – choosing to take their drinks into the spacious garden with its new picnic-style seating, a wooden fortress and a ride-on Noo-Noo. There was a faint smell of smoke that permeated the garden, presumed to be from a nearby bonfire or optimistic barbequer.

Prawn sandwich

The prawn sandwich was pretty mighty; lashings of prawns in Marie-Rose sauce with crunchy iceberg lettuce nestling between two slabs of soft white bread, accompanied by yet more fresh salad and a handful of crisps. It was a pretty good sarnie and Cat soon had it polished off.

Cheese burger

Matt’s cheese burger was a good example of a pub standard; a freshly cooked burger topped with cheese served with very tasty chips, salad and coleslaw.

As they finished eating, Cat noticed the source of the smoke that had been wafting across their table. A cigarette had been stubbed into a plant pot, the dessicated soil of which had smouldered to the point of ignition! However, a call to a barman produced a pitcher of water and tragedy was averted. Cat idly speculated whether if, had the whole pub caught alight, the new landlord could have paid for his planned refurbishment from the insurance money!

The Three Bishops is a huge pub with a personal feel, plenty of seating inside and out plus a car park for the out-of-towners. There was an equally vast menu and some budget prices – although there was no scrimping on the food itself. Recommended.

  • da yw wyth says:

    Overall, I would not recommend replacing any village pub with a MacDonalds – it may be of a uniform standard, but this also means it will never improve, and you will never have a delightful surprise! So I support the retention of village pubs, and would urge all of them to raise their game….!

  • sarah says:

    Expensive and overpriced. Bad food. Overall I’d prefer a Big Mac. The food came out cold. I asked for homemade food and they said only lasagne homemade. Bad service, an over enthusiastic child served us! I will not be returning and advise you to avoid if thinking of eating here. If your hungry have a bag of over priced crisps.

  • akie says:

    wat can i say…..i used to work at the three bishops! its a cracking pub, if it was run by some one else, doesn’t care about the food, staff or customers. i came to work here after being a very well respected chef at a very busy pub in newport, which had a great reputation.
    i was apaulled at the state of the kitchen when i started, i spent my working hours cleaning as it was disgusting, good job i had hardly any customers! the owner said that they just had a visit from environmental health and were rated 5*, rubbish…..wouldnt reconmend eating here to any1. cant wait to get my hands on the sale of this place, its got so much potential, if ran properly!

  • Tony says:

    Given our previous experience we decided to give this pub another try, however having spent over £30 on food we quickly realised how foolish we’d been. The portion sizes where clearly devised by an accountant for maximum profitability whilst the definition of ‘medium’ in relation to a steak was the equivalent of something you’d re-sole your shoe with. Pepper sauce which was simply cream with a helping from the pepper pot! as for the side salad – well the accountant would have been proud. We have learn’t our lesson and feel somewhat foolish for giving it another go, however please heed the advice given by the majority and steer well clear. Also if Matt or Cat still look at this page, please re-visit and update your review.

    Matt & Cat respond: Thanks for your comment, Tony, and yes we do still look at all our pages! Alas with over 350 reviews we can’t always update them in a timely way; but we are very lucky and grateful to have the good advice and help of our many readers, such as you, to ensure that where things have changed the news gets out. Please do keep up your contributions!

  • Spanner says:

    Ate here at the weekend, it was dreadful!. We hadn’t been to this pub in a couple of years (the last time I went I had a chunk of plastic in my dessert) and thought we’d give it another shot. Our main courses were out 8 mintues after we ordered – that’s just not right! I’d much prefer some freshly cooked grub and have to wait 30 minutes. I ordered steak pie with chips and veg. The pie was just some chunks of beef in a dish with a slab of pastry on top – it was actually a slab too, I had to stab at it with my knife to try and cut it. The chips tasted terrible too – like really cheap oil. As for the veg,I’ve seen healthier looking greens in my compost bin! We were done and dusted in half an hour – not the leisurely afternoon meal we were hoping for. Definately won’t be going back.

  • Jef says:

    I’ve not eaten at the Three Bishops recently, however it would be wrong to assume that because Brake Bros deliver that the food is not home made, Brakes deliver all manner of items including Chips, Oil, flour, meat, fresh veg etc.
    Equally pinging microwaves doesn’t always mean bought in food, even home made items have to be re-heated.

  • Mrs Fairbank says:

    Well I’m not a grocal and I can tell you that the food is NOT homemade like it is advertised as they buy from Brake Brothers. I’ve seen the deliveries. I would say food is overpriced and of poor quality, but can say that for other places as well. The fish they have is bought locally, on occasion buying it from local men who have been fishing that day (supposedly, but could of been in the back of their van for a while for all you know) which I feel is slightly wrong. I’ve seen the men selling it at the bar to him! Otherwise its taken from the freezer. Like all the food is. All you can here is the ping from the microwaves in the kitchen.

  • local grocal says:

    Oh, and the food we did have was mediocre and nothing special!

  • local grocal says:

    Service bad, run by young teenagers. Food bad and overpriced. Matt and Cat’s review was done in 2007 so take no notice as the food has changed. Doesn’t look like what is in the picture. And the prices are now more like £6+ for a sandwich! And they are like the ones you can make at home for 50p. Ordered x2 starters and x2 mains. My wifes came out and mine didn’t, they said they didn’t have it, so I didn’t have one. The mains came out, but no sides, they arrived AFTER we finished our meal! Stated we wern’t happy, but seeing we had eaten the main no apology or refund was given. Avoid like the plague, spent £44 on food and £10 on drinks. Their loss as we eat out a lot and won’t be going back.

  • sniggup says:

    Hello Dadshep, I think you have hit the nail on the head that standards drop across the island when the busy season is in swing, some very well known eating haunts are almost proud of the fact that they bump the price up and bash the food out in the summer to the one-off business then bang out the two for a tenner deals all winter long to draw in the locals. Anyone can appreciate that when its busy there is a possibility that you can run out of the food on the “specials” board as that is the point of specials after all, they are on for a limited time only..however to run out of main stay menu items just points to bad management. It can happen though and the least a customer should expect is an apology, an explanation and a substitute product. You should vote with your feet.

  • Dadshep says:

    Contrary to many of the comments above, we have regularly patronised and praised this pub over the past couple of years. We have found the food, (invariably chosen from the specials board, )to be reliably decent and good value.
    Things have certainly changed recently though!!
    We have felt the standards have steadily dropped as the pub became busier.
    Yesterday was the decider for us though. Taking two friends for lunch we were served 4 mediocre meals, including a pie and chips with horrible meaty bits under what appeared to be a dried out uncooked cardboard lid, a madras curry of overcooked pretty tasteless meat.
    For desssert 3 Knickerbocker Glories, ordered on my reccommendation, arrived as 2/3rd full glasses of just vanilla ice cream above a small amount of tinned fruit. On commenting to the landlord, his reply was “Oh we have run out of all the other flavours of luxury ice cream, only vanilla left”.
    No attempt at apology; if I had wanted vanilla ice cream and fruit, that is what we would have ordered.
    Very sad; why do so many “new finds” start off giving excellent food and service only to soon deteriorate? Is it our “kiss of death”, or do they just find it too easy to make money from suckers and tourists with little effort that they stop trying?

  • AA says:

    @Tony Marchent
    The owner holding the pub back? Do you remember the state of this pub before Chris took over? Ridiculous comment.

  • William timms says:

    After reading the above was not sure about eating there HOWEVER aftet a great 3 courses i have to say i think the above ate somewhere else. Fantastic all round and a pub CAMRA obviously missed.
    Probanly the best pub in the west wight, and no they dont sell Carlsberg.

  • Tony Marchent says:

    Things have slightly improved recently, and I think that’s ‘cos there are some new staff in the kitchen, however, I got a glimpse into the kitchen this weekend and was suprised ( or not ) to see a huge bank of microwave ovens!! My suggestion for improving this place is to get rid of the naive and unimaginative owner, who is oblivious to complaints, and replace him with ANYONE who cares about food. He is holding this place back, and it’s a shame ‘cos I won’t go back until he sells the place. If you ead this, Mr 3 Bishops… keep OUT of your kitchen, allow the chef to develop his own menu, and when you get a complaint, apologise and refund, even better, invite the unhappy customer back for a free meal, if you don’t start saying sorry, and meaning it, you will slowly lose your business as this is the Isle of Wight, everybody talks, and word will spread, as it already has. Give your chef/s the freedom they need!

  • Denzil says:

    Called into this pub to try out yesterday. Outside looks presentable, inside clean and looks good with new extension. Ordered food and drink. Both were overpriced. Food on menu unimaginative usual pub grub, ordered a burger, which wasn’t cooked properly, partly still cold from being frozen I imagine. Paying £10 for a burger I would have hoped to be better quality. More on the burger king scale of things. Awful. Complained and the response I got was that no one else had complained about their food. No refund given. Awful staff.

  • Local me says:

    Have to agree with above comment. Had exactly the same experience. It was better when the owner Chris was in the kitchen. It is a nice place to go though as refurbishment has been done well. Food not good now and overpriced. The general atmosphere isn’t very welcoming. Only been here handful of times calling in. Think its more of a locals pub.

  • Miss Food Critique says:

    I have eaten here a few times. Each being disasterous. Garlic bread consists of being price at around £4 for x2 pieces of normal bread, untoasted, with small pieces of uncooked garlic and small amounts of butter in lumps. Very, very poor. Very poor! Proceded with taglitelle, which had hardly any sauce or any ingrediants, just pasta! And not much pasta either! Very disappointed. Also the Bruchetta used to be on crusty bread, now it is as the garlic bread, x2 pieces normal bread but was toasted with not much cheese etc. NO where near as nice as it used to be. Prefer to have an old pub with good grub instead of refurb and crap (very crap) food! Staff are rubbish. Back in 2008 they used to be very friendly and helpful and I left a £10 tip they were that good! I suggest Matt and Cat take another visit and get it right with the review this time. Go in disguise and see what you get, they really don’t are about anyone else, they just give good service to you and the local Island magazine!

    Matt and Cat respond: Thanks for all of your comments, Miss Food Critique. We never announce ourselves when we are reviewing a venue therefore you can assume that we do not get any special treatment – certainly no more than any other punter. We don’t get paid for our reviews and we are always ‘in disguise’ when we visit a place with the intention of doing a review. Find out more about us and our methods here. Thanks again for your comments 🙂

  • Trevor says:

    We have been here to eat 3x in 3 years, each time, the food has been absolutely disgustingly bad. The last time we went, a couple of weeks back, all 3 meals we ordered were terrible, all had been microwaved to within an inch of infinity, veg were horrible and either over cooked or raw, the pastry was awful, the cutlery delivered in a damp tissue, yuk!, none of us felt like finishing, and needless to say, we won’t be going back ever again. The landlord is oblivious to complaints, the chef (i reckon its the landlord!) is unimaginative, not very skilled, doesn’t taste his own food, and just can’t be bothered. Take my advice, DO NOT EAT HERE!!!

  • Angry Man says:

    Abit pricey for the quality provided, slight lack of atmosphere, but good service though and great that you allow dogs inside.

  • The tigers who came to tea says:

    We had a family meal at the three bishops over the weekend. Some menus choices seemed good others, frankly, less impresive, Quite expensive for the overall quality – Sad to say that it was rather quiet and there was something key missing from the atmosphere – sorry, not my favorite IOW pub grub venue – lovely to get together as a family though!

  • David D. Ballard says:

    Well-established watering hole for chara tours. Number 7 suits small groups better.

  • tim says:

    sorry to say had a disappointing meal here recently. nice welcome and friendly service, but our meals were very expensive for what we were served. very poor side salad- unmelted grated cheese on a burger, undercooked chips. as i say, nice welcome and i’d like it to do well, but overcharging for underwhelming food.

  • cate says:

    Myself and a group of friends decided to visit the bishops for a drink on the way home. When we arrived we felt extremely unwelcome and got told that as soo as we finished our 1st drink we should leave. We were appauled as we had done nothing to provoke this rudeness. Do not go to the 3 bishops!

  • l.sewell says:

    April 2008 Good value pub food with varied menu and amenable service for our group of 7 adults and 2 under fives. Welcoming feel with good mix of tourists and locals.

  • Chris says:

    Hi Matt and Cat, thanks for the review.
    Just to let everyone know we will be closing for our works to start from 17th September for about 8 weeks, unfortunatly the planning took longer than we originally hoped so we had to delay the work until this close season.
    Hopefully you’ll come back after the reopening in December to see the traditional standard we are returning to, open fires, traditional high furniture and always good value home made foods.
    Just as a country pub should be.
    Thanks again for visiting us,
    Chris and Helen.

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