When they’re not working down the salt mines, Matt and Cat could occasionally be thought somewhat languid. They sometimes loll around for hours, eat their breakfast at noon and attempt to find somewhere for lunch that will serve them after 15:00. On one such indolent day, they found themselves hungry in Ventnor – and time was getting on. Determined to eat at the first available place, they encountered the unassuming cafe which fronts the Troubadour Hotel. Splendidly, it was still open, and the amiable fellow who emerged from the back room assured them that they were still serving food.
Taking their seats on the impressively substantial wooden chairs, Matt and Cat enjoyed the ambience of the quaint little cafe whilst considering the modest menu. Hunger won out over prevarication, and Matt swiftly ordered an all-day breakfast; with Cat, after quizzing the proprietor, taking egg on toast. He was quite happy to accommodate her wishes, and the egg was promised as she preferred it that day, poached. A pot of tea for Cat and a cafetiere of coffee for Matt arrived. Cat was extremely impressed with what she described as ‘the best-presented tea I’ve ever had’. The cup was warmed, the decent-sized china pot did not dribble, its spout had no chips or cracks, and the milk jug matched all the other crockery. Matt’s coffee was also very good, although to his disappointment no milk came with it, and he had to share Cat’s milk jug – the proprietor had by this time retreated into the bowels of the hotel, presumably to cook the food.
There then followed a not inconsiderable wait. Interestingly, the sounds of Matt’s rumbling stomach were easily drowned out by the extraordinary cacophony of noises which emerged from various parts of the Troubadour Hotel. Matt and Cat became aware of what sounded like a dentist’s drill going at full speed somewhere not too far away. It was with some relief, then, that the fire alarms went off; the hotel was filled with the jangling of a bell which may have last seen service during an air-raid. The owner and his companion, after some clucking behind the scenes, issued forth, waving cloths at the smoke sensor. They then retreated into a cupboard where, after some scuffling, a switch was thrown and the fire bell was silenced. Its jangling was replaced by a continuous high-pitched whine, characteristic of a reset alarm. All most diverting.
Eventually the food arrived, and sadly the promise of the excellent drinks was not fulfilled. Cat’s egg on toast was entirely as promised – one egg on one slice of toast. Although it was warm and tasty, the egg was so well-done as to be entirely solid. An all-day breakfast is close to being a yardstick whereby a cafe can be measured, and using this assessment, the Troubadour was found wanting. The selection was meagre – two rashers of bacon, one sausage, one small fried egg, one mushroom (shredded) and beans. Two slices of buttered toast came separately, and drinks were not included. All this for £4.90 – frankly, this is a top-rate price for a breakfast and Matt was expecting more; perhaps some tomatoes, fried bread or black pudding, or at least a good supply of toast. The meal was pleasant enough, and well-cooked, but not good value and Matt was disappointed.
Matt and Cat enjoyed the Troubadour experience, and not necessarily because of the food. They found it an inconsistent place. The atmosphere was pleasant if noisy. The drinks were first-class – the tea in particular being quite outstanding – but the food was scant and not cheap. The service was very friendly, but not speedy. Matt and Cat probably won’t be trying the Troubadour first if ever they are in a hurry for a good feed in Ventnor again.
Troubadour Hotel, Ventnor