Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
“Are you guys really fat?” asks Matt and Cat reader Alex. Well, yes and no. However, with all this conspicuous calorie consumption something may...

“Are you guys really fat?” asks Matt and Cat reader Alex. Well, yes and no. However, with all this conspicuous calorie consumption something may have to give.

Duck breast

Either M and C’s purse will succumb to the misery that is the credit crunch or their tummies will finally lose their elasticity.

It’s surprising that Matt and Cat had not visited Niton’s White Lion before. The number of rural hostelries in the area is pretty small and M and C have ticked most off their list. Many years ago, The Cat had a very nice meal in the dining room of this pleasant country pub – a brace of Quorn fillets in a delightful lemon and pepper sauce. A year or so later, hoping to re-experience this good chow, she was disappointed to find that the chef or owner had changed and the tuck was not up to the previous standard. However, all this was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Matt and Cat, having put aside Cat’s preconceptions from the days of yore, entered the pub to find that it was a completely different experience again.

Steak and kidney pie

The dining room, entered from the car park, appeared to have recently undergone a makeover. The ceiling was lower than Cat remembered it and enquiries at the bar confirmed that things had changed. Although the interior was spruced up, it was not without character; a cosy wood-burning stove nestled in a brick fireplace adorned with a pair of dancing white lions. Whilst Matt ordered drinks and perused the menu at the bar, Cat had a nose around the rest of the pub. It was compartmentalised – a pool table in one bit, bar stools in another, comfy sofas and a further smaller dining area around the corner. Speaking later with the lady at the bar, it seemed that this division of the internal space was a deliberate attempt to get punters to eat in the dining room and not the bar, with some success.

Devilled chocolate torte

Whilst Cat had been on her recce, Matt had ordered food for them both. He was keen to try the home-made steak and kidney pie and, for his companion, he had chosen the special pan-fried duck breast on a bed of red onion, red wine reduction, orange and truffle dressing, fresh salad and chips. It was either going to be that or mushroom lasagne, or maybe even the tasty sounding lamb and mint burger. However, he chose the most expensive dish on the menu which, at under a tenner was not going to break the bank.

The staff at the White Lion were very chatty and were happy to answer Matt and Cat’s work-a-day questions about the decorating and the menu. When the dishes arrived M and C inhaled the aromas of the meaty treats. Cat’s duck had a dense gravy which, although it looked pretty consistent had unexpected moments of tangy citrus – presumably the orange and truffle dressing. The duck was not at all fatty; quite lean and soft and plenty of it. The chips and salad were good too, although Cat would have preferred vegetables then she could have put them on the plate to help soak up the delicious sauce.

Matt and Cat’s bill
Duck breast £9.95
Steak and kidney pie £5.00
Devilled torte £3.95
Cherry pie £3.95
49er beer (1&1/2 pints) £4.65
Squash £0.60

Matt’s large slice of steak and kidney pudding did not have much kidney in it; there were a few bits but he would have liked a bit more. Although it was billed as home-made, Matt was suspicious of the very smooth surface and regular edging that the pastry had. It may have been made in the kitchen at the White Lion but, as it was so neat, they might as well have bought one in and saved themselves the trouble. There was a plentiful supply of peas and chips which were an appropriate accompaniment to this winter dinner. At £5.00 it was very good value.

The devilled chocolate torte was a bewilderingly chewy amalgam of biscuit, nougaty-marshallow, solid chocolate and sponge served with ice cream.

Despite filling up on their first courses, Matt and Cat decided to have puddings. There was a pretty good selection, written out especially for Matt and Cat by the lady at the bar. Help was sought from the kitchen for an accurate description of devilled chocolate torte but the rest of the dishes were self-explanatory: these included strawberry sundae, banoffee pie, treacle sponge and cherry pie. M and C ordered the first and last puddings on this list.

These proved to be very good. The devilled chocolate torte was a bewilderingly chewy amalgam of biscuit, nougaty-marshallow, solid chocolate and sponge served with ice cream. It was quite sweet but the texture was the best thing about it; quite unlike any pudding Cat had had for a long time. Matthew enjoyed his cherry pie; a simple but effective plateful. He just had enough room for the remains of Cat’s torte, for she was defeated.

Your reviewers sat and chatted for a while longer, waiting for their dinners to go down. The White Lion had served them tasty filling fare – just what was needed for this cool night. There’s a space for drinkers, diners and pool sharks in this pleasant rural pub. Following their hearty – and very good value – meal at the White Lion, Niton, Matt and Cat waddled back to the car and noted with glee that there was still capacity in both the eating out fund and their waistlines.

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  • vfbb

    18th August 2013 #1 Author

    Ate at the White Lion after being enticed by their kids eat free flyer. Food was lovely and steak cooked just as I had requested. Do think they should make it clearer that not all meals over £9.95 qualify for Kids eat free deal, this only applies to the meals on the standard menu and not the specials or Steak Night offerings. However, all food was of good quality, service was friendly and service quick and hassle free.


  • tina

    28th July 2013 #2 Author

    customers be aware of the kids eat free deal as not the same as stated in the eating out guide kids eat free with every adult meal only eat free with certain meals specified on the menu therefore the eating out guide is giving false information to would be customers.


  • Bill Trevillion

    24th July 2012 #3 Author

    Follow up from our ‘no-so-good’ experience in 2011:
    Decided to give the White Lion another go this year:
    Credit where it is due – the meals we had were sumptious and the service was superb.
    So much so that we have been back on three more occasions and have been really pleased with the food, price and service.
    This is a beautiful old pub in a lovely location and the improvement is outstanding.
    There is also a fabulous garden area which caters for children very well.
    I am so pleased that I can recommend our ‘local’ as a fine place to enjoy a drink and a decent meal 🙂


  • Eva Kroells

    2nd July 2012 #4 Author

    Hi over there!
    We got to know the White Lion during our holidays in 1973 and we have the best memories. That was a really nice enjoyable place. I even decide to come to the Isle of Wight and see your place again.
    Greetings from Germany, Eva


  • Pat & Les Mason

    6th June 2012 #5 Author

    We have visited the island for several years and always made a point of eating at The White Lion.4 years ago it was superb.Full menu,desserts on display in the cabinet and value for money.However last year we thought the fare had begun to lessen,no desserts on display and a very curtailed menu.The owners seemed more interested in getting coach parties in.This year,last month,we went in,looked at the poor menu and value on offer,and left without ordering.Very sad.


  • Mick & Karen (and Bella)

    2nd December 2011 #6 Author

    Visited the White Lion several times during a holiday in October, food was always excellent and very fairly priced. Service was excellent and everyone in the pub was friendly and helpful – especially to a couple with a curious (but very friendly) young puppy. Great selection of good beers at reasonable prices too.

    Had a great time and will be sure to return.

    PS noted that someone complained about service – we never had any problems and although not “fast food” (and we didn’t want it to be!) we never had to wait ery long for a meal and it was ALWAYS worth the wait.


  • Neil Bunde

    25th September 2011 #7 Author

    Having eaten at most of the pubs around the south of the island I must say that the White Lion inn Niton has some of the better food than most. Its obviously a drinking pub and its interior reflects this as well as an abundance of rowdy drinkers on a friday and saturday night but still pleasant in the dining room away from all the noise and “atmosphere”. The food compared to its major opposition (the buddle, not 5 min walk away) is far superior in every way. I used to eat at the buddle a lot a few years back but its standards dropped dramatically as a result of new management (i assume). Even the White Horse in whitwell, (a place which i frequent on a regular basis as the food and services is exceptional) I would call on par with the white lion. Its only let down is the service which is not so much bad but not really existent. Sunday lunch is always a winner, its hard to find a pub that make real yorkshire puddings these days!!

    hope my comments have been informative, matt and cat your review are always my first port of call before I dine out on the island thanks for all the “hard” work!!


  • Irving pedreschi

    1st July 2011 #8 Author

    We apologize for this. the only reason why the food took so long is because everything is made fresh to order, not like other big restaurant that mOst of their food is frozen. Come and see us again and give us another go . If you ask for Irving , I will make sure your meal would be one of the best meal you ever had. We love what we do and we want to make our costumers happy,

    Irving ( Second Chef)


  • Bill Trevillion

    30th June 2011 #9 Author

    Just recently my wife & I have been eating out a little more & had some mixed revues from different venues.
    As we live in Niton, we decided to pop round to the White Lion for a change.
    My wife ordered the Sirloin from the Specials Board and I ordered the Chilli Con Carne (again from the specials board)
    As the place was fairly empty I was surprised that we had to wait a full 55 minutes for our order to arrive!
    My wifes’ meal was fine – steak cooked as she likes it.
    My Chilli was very very ordinary…
    I had asked the proprietor as to how hot the chilli was? and was told ‘Not very’, but with a word to the chef they could make it a little spicier. I jumped at this opportunity as I really enjoy ‘extra spicy’ food.
    I could not even taste any chilli in the dish at all!!!!
    The rice, although well cooked tasted a little too salty and the ‘Nachos’ were (unless I am very much mistaken) simply 1/2 a bag of Doritos?
    The young waiter did come within 6 feet of the table to ask if everything was ok – but turned on his heels before I had a chance to comment!
    We will probably give it another couple of years before we venture round the corner to the White Lion for a meal again….
    Shame cos it’s local & has a nice ambiance about the place (and the staff were generally very hospitable)


  • Irving pedreschi

    24th June 2011 #10 Author

    Matt and Cat can you come and visit us again and see how much we have improved. I am the second chef at white lion. We have got a new menu.
    Thank you

    Matt & Cat respond: Hello Irving and many thanks for the invitation. We’re glad to hear things are going well for you, and certainly we will come by in due course.


  • David Ballard

    29th January 2011 #11 Author

    Oh dear. This doesn’t match my impression and experience at all… though Saturday lunchtime, not evening. Makeover in 2008? It felt stuck in the 1980s.
    Generous portions don’t make up for poor service and dated ambience. Very unwelcoming.


  • ann

    11th January 2010 #12 Author

    keen to find a cheap place to stay one night at Niton do you know if any of the local inns do B & B

    Matt and Cat respond: check


  • David Smith

    11th March 2009 #13 Author

    matt and cat I follow your every word and when i come over to the island i try your favourites

    Matt and Cat respond: Hello David. Thank you for your comment and for your continued support. We hope that you have a nice time on the Island next time you visit.