Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
As regular readers of this site will know, Matt and Cat sometimes like to ‘stress-test’ a venue. This usually means visiting during peak times,...

As regular readers of this site will know, Matt and Cat sometimes like to ‘stress-test’ a venue. This usually means visiting during peak times, often with some children in tow. Another high-intensity eating out experience is the works Christmas dinner. Having already had a civilised lunch at Burrs the day before, Cat once again donned her novelty antlers and, with her scrubbed up colleagues, went for an evening meal at the newly opened William Coppin (Lloyds No 1) bar in Newport.

Turkey with all the trimmings

Those of you with memories will know that this latest in the Wetherspoons portfolio used to be another chain pub – the Chicago Rock Cafe. Matt and Cat ate at this previous incarnation as a prelude to trips to Cineworld. However, as the service got more haphazard and the film-watching experience was frequently ruined by fidgety mobile phone-obsessed teens with bladders the size of peas, they gave up going to both venues. But that was then and this is now.


It was a chilly night and, as the doors of the venue were persistently open, Cat sat in her coat for a while, gawping around the place wondering how it had changed. The big screens showing pop videos were still there and the bar was in the same place, although the ladies’ toilet was now a baby-changing room. The place was buzzing with staff, both behind the bar and also preparing a vast table for another in the Christmas party production line. Hoovering and laying out places, employees busied themselves distributing paper napkins and scattering glitter snowflakes. Cat’s party’s table was already waiting for them so, having collected their price-inclusive drinks, they sat down. Although it was early in the evening someone managed to knock a drink over but this was rapidly attended to by the waiting staff. Perhaps this keen level of service (and increasing clumsiness of Cat’s colleagues) was an indication of the night to come?

Cat’s receipt
Three course Christmas dinner including one drink £10.99
Salmon fillet and hollandaise sauce

As they had pre-ordered, it wasn’t long before the waiting staff arrived bearing starters. With about 20 people to feed, they did well to get the right food to the right person. Cat had pate as her first dish and, although its presentation was a bit flat (like the sightly dehydrated lettuce), it was entirely functional and the pate was nice and fresh – not at all dry around the edges. Others in the party had tomato and basil soup, which was declared to be very nice indeed.

If the venue could pull it out of the bag during the office party stress-test, it bodes well for less extreme circumstances.
Cranberry and white chocolate cheesecake

Throughout the meal the lights were incrementally dimmed and the music gradually cranked up, easing the diners into the nightclub experience. The party-goers entertained themselves between courses with gossip, talk of laser hair-removal plus snapping their crackers. Cat’s joy was complete when Jonathan’s cracker joke was revealed to be a blank piece of paper. Presumably a joke so rubbish that the people in China hadn’t even bothered to print it!

Flimsy paper hats perched atop their heads, Cat’s colleagues welcomed the main course. With a non-existent level of foresight, Cat had ordered salmon fillet – which is what she had eaten the day before. The pink fish bore little resemblance to the spectacular fillet at Burrs but then, with the disparity in prices, why should it? Think of the contrast in meals in terms of ‘Finest’ (Burrs) and ‘Value’ (William Coppin). Nonetheless, the fish was moist and the sauce lovely; just the thing for dipping the competently-cooked chips into. Sprout-phobic Cat did not try the “soggy” sprouts and the carrots were a bit bland but presented a nice visual contrast. The turkey dinner was a vast plateful of traditional roast – the trimmings of which included disturbingly toe-sized chipolatas – and those that had this gobbled it up.

By now the venue had transformed into full-blown nightclub, and the final course was eaten to the warblings of Shakira’s ‘She Wolf’. Cat, who had finally shrugged off her winter coat, was agog to see several newly-arrived patrons of William Coppin, confidently shaking their oversized humps in croptops and indecently short bleached-denim minis. She shivered involuntarily and jauntily hummed along to Shakira with her alternative chorus of ‘There’s a she-pig in the Coppin’ whilst chomping on her artery-bothering cranberry and white chocolate cheesecake. This final course was very sweet and infinitely improved with the tempering addition of vanilla ice-cream, kindly donated by Kelly.

With the food eaten, it was hard to avoid the lure of the dance floor and so, as the wise men to the star of Bethlehem, Cat and her colleagues were drawn to the twinkling mirrorball. Throwing shapes like a maiden aunt at a wedding, Cat’s evening was endorsed with a shout-out from DJ Stuart.

The contrast between the sophisticated lunch at Burrs and the mass-market William Coppin was pronounced. But without turning the events into a competition, both had their merits. The William Coppin’s food was excellent value – if a little work-a-day. The staff were very attentive and the atmosphere was brilliant. If the venue could pull it out of the bag during the office party stress-test, it bodes well for less extreme circumstances. Get on down!

  • Pete J says:

    Fish Friday…. I had a superb fish meal in a Guildford Wetherspoon pub a week before visiting this Newport establishment last week.
    Yes, it was busy – Friday 7.30-ish, but absolutely no excuse for the disgusting fish dish that was served. A quality controller is needed in that kitchen. Instead of the lovely lightly battered large piece of fish from the previous week (and as shown on the advertising flyer), I was served (some 40 minutes after ordering and 2 trips to the bar to ask where my meal was) with a burnt offering that I couldn’t even get my knife into. Along with horrible chips and what can only be described as a thimble-sized portion of mushy peas, this was a disgrace.
    Thankfully the manager was able to put things right, and most of the bar staff were making the best of things, but an hour in a hot Wetherspoons with bad food isn’t my idea of starting the weekend.
    That’s one pub off my list.

  • margaret says:

    The pub is again under new management. We went there on visit to isle of wight last week atomosphere was lovely staff couldn’t do enough for you and food excellant value for money where else could 11 people eat for £6.00 each brilliant will visit again when next on the island.

  • Jo says:

    Attended a gathering of fellow workers one early evening last week not without some trepidation having read reviews on the other famous review site…however it was not as noisy as I expected and the staff were friendly. The Thursday curry special was a good price with a drink included, but certainly would not rate the food as anything other than average. I thought I was having a King Prawn curry only to receive small prawns, but couldn’t be bothered to complain. Being a person who likes small quiet country pubs with home-cooked food, I would only go here again if it was the venue for another Work ‘Do’. However, for people who like a lively atmosphere and a wide range of inexpensive food I’m sure that The William Coppin will continue to do well …but it certainly isn’t ‘my cup of tea’!

  • john page says:

    visited Coppins Bridge Weatherspoons today for lunch (14/02/11). Very poor!
    The two servers behind the bar were more interested in chatting to each other than paying attention to my order, no thank you at anytime, i had burger and chips, the burger was completely tasteless.
    The table we sat at had not been wiped down from earlier meals.
    There was also a layer of dust on the shelf next to us.

    All round a very bad experience.

  • Nick says:

    I would like to revise My previous Post.
    The William Coppin has now got a new Manager.
    It is a great deal better, now that it is being run professionally.

    They have handled the variety of Real Ale, very well, I feel.
    The Free Wi-Fi, is enjoyed by many.

    The Layout is good, for if You want a bit of Privacy, while at the Tables.
    However, this isn’t to Everybody’s taste.

    I would say that the Menu, is quite a significant improvement on Chicago Rock, and if the right People are around, You could have a really good Night out, there.
    (As I have done.).

  • Nick says:

    I was, “Banned”, from here, in the first Week that it was open.
    On one hand, the Real Ale, reasonably priced Food, and the improvement on, “Chicago Rock”, was welcome.

    However, They messed up the food Order, then explained that the Staff in the Kitchen weren’t trained, because there isn’t any money, to train Them. (ALARM BELLS.).

    They got irritated, because I couldn’t sign the back of My Payment Card. (Due to Medical conditions.).

    This is all in a factual way, and is no way supposed to be a comment, on Anybody’s Character.
    Even though, Personally, I feel that My Character, has been tainted, by being banned.

    If You have a disability, I wouldn’t bother going.
    After all, Managers are legally allowed to ban Anyone from the premises, without reason.
    (In a factual way.).

  • Alan says:

    I recently went to the cinema and combined the evening out with a meal at the William Coppin. We both had meals from the value section and I can honestly say that my ham eggs and chips had to be the best ever meal for value I have had on the island. Plenty of chips, pipping hot and served really quickly. My wife had the five bean chille and again it was excellent value. I would certainly recommended the place and look forward to visiting again soon.

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