Review of 'The Steamer Inn'

A Sunday evening on a spring bank holiday weekend in Shanklin. Having not made a booking at any local restaurant, not knowing this was probably a good idea we, once again, found ourselves in search of dinner. Walking along the Shanklin esplanade we noticed that “The Steamer Inn” was (a) open (b) sort of neat looking with a naval theme happening and © quite busy compared to other (open) restaurants (ignoring takeaways). On this basis we had quick look at their posted menu (a large double-sided placement affair) and was reasonably impressed - Basically a pub but with a wider range of dishes. The helpful and pleasant maitre'd told us there would be a few minutes wait though we could wait at the bar so we headed in. A few steps up from the road is a large outdoor and partially covered seating area that was busy with people both eating and drinking (always a good sign when eating in a pub). The smaller interior was also busy with a good sized wooden bar at the back. The entire restaurant is decorated in naval memorabilia, most of it local including posters of ferry timetables, oars hanging from the ceiling, and other nautical items which is quite kitsch but a bit fun. There were a large number of families which meant it was a bit noisy. No sooner had we arrived at the bar area when we were approached again by the maitre'd and told there was a table available immediately inside on the left only a few feet from the bar.

Seated at our uncovered wooden table we were given the menus to have a look over with the specials pointed out on a chalk board on the wall. We were asked to place our orders with the cashier and left to mull over our choices. There are quite a lot of choices to look at. In addition to the traditional pub grub options of fish and chips (always a favourite for tourists visiting the island), ploughman's lunches (various versions), jacket potatoes and the ubiquitous burgers there are also salads, sharing platters, wraps/sandwiches, seafood, “light bites” and steaks/etc from the “griddle”. Refreshing to also see the specials board featuring fresh fish as well (I can't say local as there is little, if any, commercial fishing done on the island but if you mean by “local” within 100 or so miles, sure).

We decided on our order which I placed at the cashier which a short time later was delivered to the table. I had the “Scampi Caesar Salad” (£12.75) which was “breaded whole tail scampi” that was served with thin strips of bacon on a bed of several very large pieces of cos lettuce that caused me no ends of hassle when eating as I attempted to cut them into smaller pieces to fit not only in my mouth but on the plate. The scampi was quite tasty - very juicy and quite flavoursome without being greasy. The ceasar dressing was quite mild and only barely present with the parmesan shavings an equally rare find. On the side I was given two huge wedges of bread that were quite tasty and very filling.

My companions had the “Homemade Chilli Nacho Grande” (£11.50). They were told the normal sour cream was not available so they would be given a “bit of extra of something”. Not sure what this “something” was but when the dish arrived it was a huge oval plate of tortilla chips covered with an obviously reheated/charred under the salamander pile of chilli. A pot each of salsa and guacamole perched precariously on top. The portion was enormous and neither companion was able to finish but they did enjoy what they told me was the rich flavour of the chilli and the guacamole was very nice as well.

Our drinks were just taken from the bar and nothing terribly interesting with standard options on tap and the typical soft drinks you might expect also available.

The biggest complaint we had about the experience was that it was noisy – Absolutely deafening with the large number of people and not just because we were seated beside a family with three small children. Conversation even the short distance across our table was next to impossible. The next complaint we had was the occasional smelly waft from the toilets that were about 20 feet away - the strong smell of urine was not great to accompany eating and suggested that cleaning them was not high on the agenda for this busy evening. Thankfully it wafted only a few times and largely we ate with our smell unmolested.

The staff were reasonably pleasant, in particular the gentlemen who had greeted us at the door, but seemed to always be in a bit of rush despite service being quite slow for everyone (we were not in a hurry anyway).

Reasonable pub-quality food in a fun, though noisy, environment. If they are always busy like when we visited then they should look at concentrating on service and keeping the toilets clean.

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2017-05-28

Cuisine: American/British

Address: Shanklin Esplanade, Isle of Wight, PO37 6BS ENGLAND

Location: Isle of Wight (England) - Shanklin



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Telephone: +44 (0) 1983 862641