WE DROPPED in for a quick lunch at Long John Eater in Ryde, suddenly nostalgic at the old-fashioned but curiously comforting offering: table service, bargain prices, a wipe-clean menu which doesn't change from one decade to the next, and tables fixed to the floor.

The menu is a rare survival from a simpler age when it was normal, indeed expected, to have pickled onions as a separate item (50p).

You know, in case somebody wanted to sit down to a nice cup of English Breakfast with one.

We could have munched on a ploughman's, a roast beef dinner (Yorkshire pudding an extra £1) or even the Big Mammy Jammy Burger which, you will be relieved to hear, does not involve any actual jam.

Isle of Wight County Press: Long John Eater in Ryde has great pies!Long John Eater in Ryde has great pies!

We were dazzled by the rare choice between two different steak and kidney pie dishes. Served with vegetables, potatoes and gravy was a pie from the 'Chef's Special' section. For the same price, Matt eventually chose pie with chips, peas and gravy from 'Bakes & Grills'.

The pie, along with a cup of almost-decent tea, came with the described accompaniments. All were piping hot.

The chips, we felt, had probably been around for a while before being anointed by the gravy.

The peas were - amazingly - marrowfat peas and not frozen peas. We could hardly recall when we'd last seen these rehydrated specimens in the wild outside of a pot of mushy peas, and the haunting green-blue colour of the Long John peas was a remarkable nostalgia trip for Matt as he recalled school dinners of old.

The piecrust was soft and flabby but all this was forgotten when the interior was revealed - a full portion of soft, succulent steak, meaty sauce and actual chunks of real kidney. Not at all a bad pie, and by far the best thing on the plate.

Meal over, the bill was summoned and paid - an extremely reasonable price. For less than a tenner we'd had pie and chips served on a plate, with metal cutlery, a cup of tea and a half-decent view.

Eavesdropping on irascible fellow customers was a bonus which was better entertainment than any piped music.

Is this the best diner in Ryde? No. But it's in a great location, is top value, and does a good steak and kidney pie.


Steak & kidney pie £7.95
Tea £1.80

TOTAL: £9.75.

RATING: Two stars. Not  that bad, worth a visit.


Long John Eater, 1 Union Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 2EA.

T: 01983 562623.

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