Wetherspoons is a capacious vertical drinking establishment in what was once a fine old department store. In the summer the vast picture windows are open, giving drinkers a view of the hustle and bustle of Ryde’s delightful Union Street, and the bus stop. Meanwhile the pedestrians get the chance to peer into the gloom and wonder why there are so many people of working age sat smoking all day in a pub.
Despite the banners proclaiming full English breakfast for £1.99 and other give-away food and drink offers, your reviewers have not really been tempted to venture into the dark recesses of this pub. However, as there’s only so many times they can go to the Hong Kong Express in one week, Matt and Cat went to Wetherspoons.
Despite it being about 6:00pm, the place was already pretty busy. Cat saw a friend who advised her that, if she and Matt had come to eat, they should sit in the family area upstairs as it was a no-smoking area and likely to be less rowdy. This advice proved to be excellent. When they ordered their food Matt and Cat were courteously told of a 45 minute wait. This was not unexpected at this busy time; Wetherspoons gets credit for pointing out the wait. Your reviewers were happy to wait for their food in the interests of their valued readers. The time passed quickly; Cat had a nice chat with her friend whilst Matt sat and drank a pint of very reasonably priced John Smith’s extra smooth.
As you can probably ascertain from the earlier tone of this review, it was anticipated that Wetherspoons could be a pretty dismal eating out experience. But Matt and Cat swallowed their preconceptions with the first mouthful of food. Cat had a delicious chicken Caesar salad; the chicken was lovely and soft, the lettuce was fresh, and the salad was covered with a very generous amount of Parmesan shavings. The dressing was very tasty and the croutons were garlicky and crisp. Matt had ‘surf and turf’. The steak was not, as requested, rare, but otherwise the meal was extremely good – a big slice of lean meat and a lavish pile of breaded scampi, all served piping hot with plenty of fresh salad and chips. Simple, but satisfying. The entire meal was rock-bottom price, even including drinks.
Despite the crowded bar and the smoky environment, Matt and Cat found a reasonably quiet and entirely smoke-free area in which to enjoy their meal. Wetherspoons is another example of that rare beast – a chain which actually delivers good food as well as low prices and convenience.