NB: The Village Taverna is now closed.
But we hear a new place is opening there (see comments below)
As regular readers to Matt and Cat’s Isle of Wight eating out guide will know, M and C are big fans of tapas, El Toro Contento being one of their favourite venues. Therefore, it was not going to be long before they sampled the meze of Sandown’s Village Taverna – particularly as there had been a request for a review via their ‘suggest a venue‘ page. Not that the Village Taverna needs Matt and Cat to promote its business; people are queuing to try the food according to the County Press, which also makes the intriguingly cosmopolitan suggestion that the menu is half Greek and half Polish.
So, one evening Matt and Cat headed to Sandown to buy food. Meandering up the High Street they passed Sandown Kebab and Steak House. Matt mischievously suggested that they have pitta and a kebab, but Cat rejected his proposition and walked on to the next venue – the Taj Tandoori. However, this pleasant Indian restaurant was also snubbed as they had already visited it. Topographically next was the Village Taverna.
The first thing your reviewers noticed on entering the restaurant was the large, gleaming and spectacularly boastful plaque proclaiming its five star status bestowed by the council’s environmental health inspectors. The Village Taverna is right to be proud of this accolade, fiercely guarded by a muscled Greek warrior, possibly Achilles.
An attentive waitress appeared from a back room and seated Matt and Cat in leather chairs. However, this is no generic restaurant; the tables were decorated with a vase of fresh tulips, customised terracotta goblets and a handwritten specials menu. Whilst Matt and Cat perused the bill of fare, a complementary basket of warmed pitta and a dish of succulent olives and tangy feta cheese was presented. This was particularly welcome and very tasty. Also, to save any argument, there was an equal number of olives, slices of pitta and chunks of feta!
Like El Toro Contento, there was a meaty bias to the dishes. Lamb, pork and chicken souvlaki, diced pork affelia, and skewered king prawns. For the vegetarians there was stuffed aubergines and vine leaves amongst other tasty-sounding dishes.
Cat, faced with this range of red meat, bucked the trend and chose chicken lemonato. Matt liked the sound of the seftalies, described as herbed pork mince, rolled in a thin goats fat and baked to a crisp. This prompted a discussion between Matt and Cat about how fat is a thin goat’s fat…
Orders given, M and C tapped their toes to the Greek muzak – a pleasing mix of stringed instruments and whistling ocarinas – whilst idly watching a holidaying couple and their chubby child eat what looked like ice cream sundaes. The short wait for food was also spend griping about the Cogent-Telia disconnect and how this has slowed up Matt and Cat’s server, leading to a backlog of reviews. However, after some obligatory geeky waffle Matt was able to report that this issue was now resolved, which meant some serious catching up for the duo when back at the Cat Cave.
Soon the dinners arrived. Both looked very similar; meat, lemon potato wedges and salad. Cat’s lemon chicken was impaled on metal skewers and it steamed gently, giving off a delightful aroma of herbs and lemon. The meat was very tender and tasty.
Matt’s seftalies closely resembled sausages and tasted like the butcher’s best. Pleasant enough, but not the exotic treat he was hoping for. Both M and C really liked the lemoned potatoes, although the salad seemed to be mostly unadventurous lettuce and cucumber interrupted by a watery radish flower. None-the-less, Cat was particularly pleased with her dinner and ate the lot (apart from the raw onion).
Matt on the other hand, remarked that for nearly £12, three small sausages and a salad were a bit thin: he felt slightly short-changed on quantity and declared the need for a pudding to fill himself up. Funnily enough, Matt and Cat did not need to see the sweet menu as, somehow, the choices had entered their subconscious as if by magic. M was eager to try the Greek yoghurt and honey (which proved to be the dish that looked like ice cream sundae); the contrast between the cool yoghurt and the viscid bee-product was delightful. Cat chose capellini which was angel-hair pasta filled with nuts, drizzled with the sweetest honey and topped with a crushed pistachio nut. It was a bit too sweet for The Cat so Matthew offered a dollop of the yoghurt to temper the sweetness. Much better!
And then it was time to settle up. As they were leaving, Matt and Cat wondered if they had missed the Polish items on the menu – they only remembered the Greek food, Greek music and the statue of Achilles. Still, their experience of the Village Taverna was very favourable and, with a certain amount of smugness, Matt pointed out to Cat that she had eaten pitta bread and a kebab after all!