Situated in a prominent position at the upper end of Carisbrooke High Street is the substantial red-brick pub, The Waverley, named after the paddle steamer of the same name.
Matt and Cat drove into the spacious rear car park early one weekday evening, having been lured in by the ‘2 meals for £12’ offer advertised outside. Cat hesitated at the slightly tatty rear entrance of the pub, but was encouraged to enter by the comforting sight of a four star rating on the ‘Scores on the Doors‘ from the IW Council’s Environmental Health team.
Strolling through the smoky lounge with its billiard table and large screen TV showing live cricket, Matt and Cat made their way to the bar where the friendly barman showed them the different menus. Despite the tantalising 2 for £12 offer, your reviewers managed to get even better value, having fortuitously stumbled in on the excellent value curry night – £6.95 for curry and a drink. Foregoing the regular menu’s tempting pies (chicken and steak), burger choices and pasta, neglecting to even consider the specials offers, M and C went straight for the curry.
After a tail-swishing choice between the chicken korma and chicken tikka, Cat eventually went for the former, encouraged by an amiable chap at the bar who declared the korma to be his wife’s favourite. Matt had no such trouble choosing, opting straight for the lamb rogan josh. With a pint of excellent bitter and a bottle of apple and melon J2O to finish off the order, Matt and Cat wandered into a further lounge and took their place by the window, overlooking the roundabout.
Despite the fact that it was only 6:00pm, the pub was already filling up with other diners – obviously this is a popular venue. Unlike some pub diners where the clientèle is of a predictable type, the Waverley seemed to be a genuine local pub which served the whole community, with customers of all ages popping by to eat, to drink, to watch the cricket or just to chat.
Matt and Cat’s places were laid by a very attentive waiter who returned after a short while to inform Matt the lamb rogan josh was no longer available. This prompted a discussion, and although the waiter couldn’t recommend an alternative because he didn’t like curry, Matt was able to opt for chicken tikka as a substitute.
So, whilst waiting for their food M and C looked around the pub. It truly is a representative of what may be a dying breed; an old skool drinking place in Victorian style, with dark burgundy heavy anaglypta wallpaper, vivid carpet and yellowing gloss work. Taking into account the faded glory, Matt and Cat’s impression had been favourable – friendly locals, good hygiene score, attentive staff, fresh flowers on the tables – although the smokiness (for one last time) and sticky tables detracted from this a bit.
Your reviewers also spent a bit of time discussing how to clean out a yard of ale, like the one that hung in a venerable glass cupboard in the lounge. How big would the bottle-brush have to be that could tackle such vessel? Before this question could elicit a satisfactory answer, the food arrived. Both curries were presented in steel balti dishes and accompanied by a generous amount of fluffy rice, a poppadum and a mini-naan. Cat’s korma was pretty average, although it had the interesting addition of mushrooms and the meat was certainly very tender. Matt’s tikka was good, and looked particularly juicy; its red sauce giving a suitably spicy flavour to the substantial chunks of meat, and, unusually for a pub curry, enhanced with some fried onion and pepper. With the first-class real ale included in the price, this really was a great value meal.
The Waverley Hotel is obviously popular with the locals and, with its genuine feel and friendly staff it is easy to see why. It has good beer and good value food, but in the face of competition from less characterful but more tidy-looking establishments – plus the predicted effects of the smoking ban – will this old-style pub prevail? Matt and Cat hope so – and if you give the Waverley a try, so will you.