Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
Update: The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Newport was one of this site’s earliest reviews so Matt and Cat decided to revisit the venue. The original review,...

Update: The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Newport was one of this site’s earliest reviews so Matt and Cat decided to revisit the venue. The original review, from 4 August 2006, is below the update.

Tomato, ham and mozzarella toastie

During the week, Matt and Cat regularly meet for lunch in Newport. A light snack of local produce at the excellent Island Images usually suffices although sometimes they only have time to snatch a coffee at the Quay Arts Centre or Olivo. On this particular day, M&C were looking for a place to eat and duck out of the rain – along with most of the lunchtime crowd. And so it was that they ended up outside the doors of the Wheatsheaf – one of three so-named hostelries on the Island*.

Shaking off the droplets as they entered the bar, Matt and Cat were pleased to see that the place had lost none of its charm. Although the patrons were mostly men, The Wheatsheaf had a far more genteel atmosphere than a rowdy sports bar. Pleasingly, there was no sign of a TV; only the faint warble of an eclectic selection of piped music – possibly megamixed by DJ Anachronistic, as Avril Lavigne’s Sk8r Boi was segued into some twaddle by The Beatles.

Chicken tikka

A table by the window was available and Matt and Cat settled in and passed a few moments looking at the war memorial, slightly distorted by the old glass and rivulets. The pub had a decent menu of light bites and a few keenly-priced meals on the specials board. It was all pretty standard fare, baked potatoes, toasted sarnies and omelettes punctuated by a few surprises such as corn beef hash and a bargain-priced chicken tikka. The chap at the bar persuaded Cat that the toasted sandwiches were very good so, when she placed the order, she eschewed her first choice of soup in favour of a toastie.

Matt and Cat’s bill
Ham, tomato & mozzarella toastie £5
Chicken tikka £3.95
1pt bitter shandy £3.20

Whilst waiting for their meals, Matt and Cat turned their attention again to the music. It was so varied that it put Cat in mind of the good old days of the pub jukebox – when, with the rattle of their coin in its greedy slot, the punter had control of the phonograph. The jukebox has all but disappeared and perhaps it should be revived. As well as forking out for some toe-tapping rawk, Matt would also like to be able to buy silence – say, five minutes for 50p. Wouldn’t that be great?

Top marks for simple food well served

Supping their drinks, M and C enjoyed the pub atmosphere of the Wheatsheaf. Somehow this ancient hostelry has managed to avoid the sometimes ruinous tinkerings of ‘progress’, maintaining links with its venerable past. Even some of the overheard conversations could have come from patrons of half a century ago, such as the reflections of the old bus services… “The number 12a stopped at the old workhouse,” floated the reminiscences of the bus nerds at the bar. “…I remember him, he’d knock the bus out of gear and coast all the way to Freshwater Bay…”

Matt and Cats’ eavesdropping was interrupted by the arrival of their food. Cat’s toasted sandwich was crammed onto an oval plate, rubbing its crusty shoulders with a big pile of steak-cut chips and a plain but wholesome salad garnish. There was plenty of ham in the sarnie’s interior – and none of that thin stuff either – plus a couple of discs of tomato and some gooey mozzarella. It was all pretty good and the chips were particularly commendable; easily as tasty as those triple cooked efforts sometimes presented in a Jenga-like stack in posher establishments.

Matt’s curry was equally welcome. For only £3.95 this was good value indeed. Accompanied by a pint of real ale, a simple bowl of rice with a pile of old-fashioned chicken curry on top was just what Matt needed on a cold afternoon. The curry was flavoursome and had plenty of meat in it. Top marks for simple food well served.

As Matt and Cat ate their meals, they once again had the opportunity to enjoy their perennial pastime of ear-wigging on fellow patrons. The Wheatsheaf was a particularly fertile ground for such a practice, and the conversation at the bar had leapt forward about 20 years to the thorny subject of the introduction of decimalisation. “They should have waited for all the old people to die” was the consensus. Wiping their plates clean and preparing for the last stint of the week at the ant farm, Matt and Cat heard one last insight into that other hot topic amongst the older generation – their health. “It wasn’t keyhole surgery – more like letterbox surgery! Still, it’s a good job that my days as a male model are over,” disclosed one old chap, with a twinkle. Or perhaps it was his twinkle which was operated on?

Leaving the Wheatsheaf after a highly satisfactory lunch, Matt and Cat went back to the hustle and bustle of the twenty-first century, leaving the cosy charm of the pub behind. The place hadn’t changed at all since their last review and probably not for a few centuries before that. Recommended.

*The other two Wheatsheafs are in Yarmouth and Brading, fact fans!

Review from 4 August 2006

Sitting in the cosy surrounds of the Wheatsheaf one is compelled to imagine the ghosts of a thousand ruddy-faced farmers and merchants, stretching back over the many centuries that the pub has been a busy inn in a market town. Although spruced up a little over the years it still has the crooked staircase, flagstones, twisting corridors and low beams (ouch) which give it real character.

Wheatsheaf, Newport

Matt and Cat stopped off at the Wheatsheaf with some friends for a quick bite after work. Bar meals can be taken at one of the tables in the bar, or there is a small restaurant area. Matt and Cat chose the latter, and settled down to view the menu, which came in two varieties – lunchtime and evening. Showing a pleasingly accommodating attitude the polite waitress offered the choice of either – perhaps sensing that her guests were not going to settle in for an all-nighter – and your reviewers chose the lighter lunch fare, rather than the more substantial evening list. Being a proper pub, the Wheatsheaf also offered decent beer and bar drinks, all at pub rather than restaurant prices.

Matt chose a basic cheeseburger and chips, always a good test of a pub. The price was very reasonable, and the burger, on arrival, was a decent portion and a tasty meal. Unusually, instead of the salad wilting on the chips, it was incorporated into the large bun, which made the meal appear visually sparse, but made for a more enjoyable burger.

As it was such a hot evening, Cat chose chicken salad. A decent sized sliced chicken breast was accompanied by a large portion of potato salad and a diced green salad with peppers and tomatoes. It was very nice and excellent value for money.

The Wheatsheaf is a characterful pub in an excellent central location for those enjoying the delights of Newport. It serves reasonably priced, enjoyable food. Matt and Cat hope to return to try the evening menu, and report further.
The Wheatsheaf, Newport

  • Steve Fenner says:

    Just returned from a lovely weekend on the isle of wight had a fantastic time . On our last night we decided to try the wheatsheaf in newport as we had walked past the pub and thought that the menu looked a varied one and the pub itself looked nice. I ordered a steak as did one of our friends. When our meals came we both thought what a large piece of meat and when i cut into it the meat it cut easily. However as i put it up to my mouth i noticed a rather unpleasant odour and when i put it i to my mouth it did not taste as a steak should. In fact it was very much off. Our evening was spoilt and we would definitely not recommend this establishment to anyone else.

  • Loren and Jim says:

    Had a BEAUTIFUL Sunday roast lunch here yesterday. The small portion was just right and we would return and recommend.
    Keep up the good work! Hope to see you soon! x

  • Norah says:

    Went to The Wheatsheaf last weekend, it has finally changed hands and all for the better. The place looks great the food was amazing and the staff are lovely and friendly. I had the Seabass and it was one of the best! I would highly recommend a visit everyone, I will be back Wheatsheaf!

  • da yw wyth says:

    I see this place is about to change hands, so maybe the situation will improve…?

  • da yw wyth says:

    Went here reluctantly, and only because of the terrible steak pie recently experience at the once-excellent George, and because the Castle refuses to start serving till 6 despite a misleading sign outside.

    So, the Wheatsheaf. Not much to say really, staff tolerated my presence without too much disgruntlement, and the food arrived quickly. It was adequate – neither a pleasant nor an unpleasant meal – it did the job of providing nourishment.

    Whatever it had been cooked in wreaked revenge later. The meal did not make me ill, but I could certaily feel it going through, especially during a longf waking period the same night. I had thought scampi a safe choice, but maybe not?

    Suffice to say, I shall not rush back if I have any choice. Perhaps I should give the once-wonderful George a second chance? Or see if I can guzzle down the no-doubt tasty fayre at the Castle in double-quick time….?

    What’s the Crispin like btw?

  • Karen says:

    I am sad to say that this review is very out of date and would love to hear your views on the food and service now being offered.
    A party of us recently celebrated a 60th birthday at this establishment and it has to be said that the food was distinctly average and mundane, it was certainly not outstanding, a large black feather in a fried egg may be slightly amusing, but was something clearly missed by the chef!
    The biggest issue however was the extremely poor service, the table not cleared after each course until we had ordered the next, glasses were not cleared, waitresses fooling around and being generally loud and unprofessional in the entrance to the kitchen, the dessert order wrong, the inability to order drinks from the waitress due to her age are just some of the issues we had with this establishment.
    To top this catalogue of poor service off, on booking the table for our large party a week previously, we had been assured a gluten free diet could easily be accomodated, even going so far as to assure us the chef could cook something specific to suit if this was required, this was sadly not the case. There was minimal food on the menu and certainly no dessert available, the attitude of the waitresses to this was very couldn’t care less. Dining out for a coeliac is always a very difficult problem at the best of times and there is seldom much food on a menu that is suitable, so to be reassured on this matter and then be let down on this, in fact for the staff to have a very cavalier attitude to this issue, was very dissappointing indeed. It is sad to say that this is one eatery we certainly won’t be recommending!

  • Jenny says:

    We recently held an 80th birthday lunch for 18 people at the Wheatsheaf. We chose from set menus in advance and were impressed with the quality, quantity and value for money. The staff were exceptionally helpful and a good time was had by all!

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