Many tourists come a long way to visit the Isle of Wight – so, says Cat, for those lucky enough to already live on...

Many tourists come a long way to visit the Isle of Wight – so, says Cat, for those lucky enough to already live on the Island, why not play at being a holidaymaker when you can? After all, if this undulating county is a good enough destination for visitors, it should be more than good enough for a bit of grockle make-believe. Donning her most florid sunhat and with her camera slung around her neck, Cat went undercover in search of cream tea – like so many millions before her.

Accompanied by a compliant chum, Cat found herself in the tourist Mecca that is Shanklin Old Village with its picturesque thatched buildings, grotto-esque chine, and abundance of knick-knackery to purchase. Gasping for a cup of tea after staring open-mouthed in the windows of the trinket shops (shell animal with googly eyes, anyone?), Cat and pal trotted eagerly into the beautiful gardens of Vernon Cottage.

Sitting in the shade of a big umbrella, they perused the extensive menu. This is certainly a venue which caters for all tastes and budgets, from the parsimonious to the profligate. And, for those of you who would like the taste of seafood without investing in the wallet-punishing lobster and seafood platter (£34.99), there are always what are prominently heralded as “the best fishcakes in the world”!

Despite the overwhelming selection, Cat stuck to her traditions and ordered a cream tea with plain scones, although both the cinnamon and fruit scones did sound very tasty. Cat’s chum had her head turned by the prospect of a trio of vegetarian sausages (this meant, it transpired, that there were three of them – but they did not sing in harmony) and mash with what was optimistically labelled “unique homemade Vernon Cottage caramelised red onion gravy”. Cat went inside the well-appointed and spacious cottage to place the order. By the time she had been served, visited the ‘facilities’ and got back to her seat in the garden, the cream tea was delivered. Cripes, what speedy service!

Cream Tea

The fastest cream tea in the world?

Understandably, the veggie sausages took a bit longer to arrive, being freshly cooked.

Vegetarian sausage and mash

Vegetarian sausage and mash

It didn’t take Cat long to eat her cream tea; it was delicious, and good value at £3.95 – particularly the tea. With the addition of hot water, Cat was able to wring four cups of tea out of the pot. Great! The sausage and mash went down a treat too. The gravy was particularly pleasant, whether or not it was unique it was certainly neither too runny or too thick – the perfect consistency. The peas looked nice and juicy, not the often shrivelled offerings, and the sausages were light on grease (possibly grilled?).

Once the food had been eaten and their plates taken, Cat and chum lounged on their bench putting the world to rights as the sun started to set on picturesque Shanklin. Soon it would be time to hang up the garish sunhat and go back to the salt-mine but, for a few hours, it was great to play at being a tourist and for Cat to stuff her face with cream tea. You don’t have to be a grockle to enjoy the hospitality of Vernon Cottage, although, if you order the cream tea, please do let Matt and Cat know if it really is the fastest cream tea in the world!
Vernon Cottage, Shanklin

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  • Laura Montague

    19th January 2009 #1 Author

    After 3 visits to Vernon Cottage within a week last May, we were keen to go back on another holiday in August. Unfortunately, I think they must have hired a different chef for the summer months. In a party of four, one of us ordered ham, egg and chips. The food came out in a reasonable time, but the eggs were positively overcooked and could have doubled as bouncy balls. We politely asked the waitress to take them back and have them re-cooked, but she returned after less than a minute only to tell us that the Chef said “that’s how they’re meant to be cooked”…….. My husband stared at the waitress in disbelief before asking to see the “chef” himself. He was led into the bar and was told to go into the kitchen, but instead asked for the chef to come out to the bar. What followed can only be described as ridiculous:

    Husband: “These eggs are overcooked, they’re rock hard”.
    Cook: “That’s how they’re meant to be. If you wanted the yolks runny you should have asked when you ordered”.
    Husband: “I’m sorry, but egg yolks are generally runny when cooked as ham egg and chips”.
    Cook: “Well that’s not how we do them here”.

    At this point, the lonely barman stepped in and asked if we would like the eggs to be replaced. That’s all we were asking for, not a slanging match with an inadequate cook!

    It would appear that the owners of the establishment were absent that day, and having seen them run this place before, I can’t imagine the “chef” would have been allowed to get away with this.

    Reply

  • Denise Price

    4th May 2008 #2 Author

    well I would certainly recommend Vernon Cottage.

    well I would certainly recommend Vernon Cottage.I hav aready posted a mesage bt wnated to do it again as I couldn’t beleive teh other comments above I visited twice and both occasions were great. I have travelled Europe a bit ( five countries) and eaten in some great top restaurants and many places which are more down to earth. I spent the whole afternoon and evening there the first time! The second we had to get into the arbour which was heated to prolong our stay – the British weather beaten! The atmosphere is great = service very friendly – Cath and Wendy and their staff were happy for us to stay all afternoon. I took the family and we had a lovely day just relaxing and enjoying the surroundings and food.. There is a great variety of good stuff to choose to eat and my 13 year old was happy all day – especially when allowed to look around the little gift shop as well as eat!! What did I have? Well olives for an appetizer gets a big plus from me then the mixed tapas and then just to be a bit more traditional I tried the Vernon Cottage specialty fish cakes. Yumm! My partner who won’t look at a fish tried the Chefs Steak and Ale pie! He definitely enjoyed it! The Chocolate Hanky panky ( okay weird name – can’t quite understand the idea that chocolate is naughty! ) got my 13 year old into heaven, the apple pie brought a smile to his face and I waited a bit to the late afternoon for those fantastic scrumptious scones!! Do not miss them! Never tasted better and my mum comes from Devon. Don’t tell her – these scones were the best!. Okay I will admit the draught Isle of Wight beer helped the atmosphere big time too! Don’t’ miss out! – check it out!

    Matt and Cat reply: Thanks for your comprehensive comment Denise. We’ve been to Vernon Cottage a couple of times and enjoyed eating there, as you can read in our review.

    Reply

  • Dr Joan Sinclair More

    3rd April 2008 #3 Author

    RE: Vernon Cottage, Shanklin

    A buyer at Harrods took her mother to Vernon Cottage and they recommended it to us for the delicious food, particularly the huge and delicious crab-cakes with fresh salad and tasty dressing, – and for Vernon Cottage’s swift and friendly service. She said nothing seemed too much trouble – and the loos were very clean, fresh smelling and had hand-rails to assist the elderly. Much appreciated by her mother.

    So we visited and were not dissappointed. Now we visit each summer and have done so for the past two years and it is a great experience. We have recommended all our friends to try it. The menu is very varied and reasonably priced. The food really was delicious and well presented.

    We shall go again this year. I noticed also, that several local people visit for meals and group bookings were taken for special celebration parties. One was taking place whilst we were there. Everyone seemed to be having a great time and, I am happy to say, that the service to our small group did not suffer. We talked to two people who live in Shanklin and they were full of praise for the food and the service and said what a pleasant place it was for them to visit on their days-off work. That really made me feel more confident to recommend Vernon Cottage.
    01/04/08 @ 12:35

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  • Iain Summers

    3rd October 2007 #4 Author

    We also had a less than spectacular experience, Paella very ordinary with tragically overcooked mussels and the much heralded fishcakes dry and just not very interesting. Staff were indifferent to the point of rudeness and the constant warnings of long waits merely allows for a chronically poor level of service. Both of our meals were bordering on cold when they arrived, suggesting that the kitchens are run for someones convenience, but that someone is not necessarily the customer!

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  • Steve and Liz Arnold

    16th September 2007 #5 Author

    We also had a very different and not so positive experience. We ordered our cream tea and sat outside in the blazing sunshine for 50 minutes during which time we studied the menu with a view to returning with friends as we are Island residents. With no sign of even a drink on its way to us we calmly enquired as to where our order was but was told that we were given the wrong ticket and the order had never been sent to the kitchen. The reason we waited for this amount of time prior to making an enquiry was that it states on the front of the menu that all food is freshly prepared and please do not complain/moan to the staff as they are doing their best! We did get our money back but when we said we were now gasping for a drink and would be visiting a nearby shop to buy a bottle, no effort was made to try to persuade us to stay. They may serve “the best fish cakes in the world” but in our opinion have some way to go in understanding what constitutes true customer service.

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  • Stephen John

    9th May 2007 #6 Author

    Visited today and had a very different and indifferent experience.

    Ordered two teas and just able to get two cups from the pot.

    Victoria cake was poor and was certainly not fresh and money refunded without protest.

    Perhaps an off day but on today’s performance there are many other places in Shankin and the island providing better value for money.

    Reply