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The Garlic Farm (Isle of Wight)
Member Name: magenta23
The Garlic Farm (Isle of Wight)
Date: 17/08/09, updated on 17/08/09 (203 review reads)
Advantages: Beautiful views and flowers
Disadvantages: Not much else
On our visit to the Isle of Wight we got a huge amount of leaflets to sift through to decide what to entertain ourselves with. The one that leapt out for both of us was The Garlic Farm. We are both big foodies and love our garlic, combine that with a bit of countryside and a restaurant with very good write ups, it sounded like a good plan.
The Garlic Farm is heavily advertised for tourists on the island. Even if you don't visit I'd be surprised if you still have not heard of it after spending any amount of time on the island. Even on the ferry over from Portsmouth there was a film on loop about the place and explaining how the island has the right conditions for growing garlic. Rick Stein picked this place as one of his 'food heroes', which has probably added enormously to it's success.
The Garlic Farm is situated more or less in the middle of no where. We had a guide for the island that we picked up at the station and my other half was looking up places every ten minutes along the way, there was no disguising we weren't from these parts with him looking like a true tourist. The trusty book said we needed to get the number 10 bus service from Newport which would take us to the farm.
We waited an eternity for the bus and once on it had no idea where we were going. Eagle eyed we spotted a sign for the farm and hit the bell. We'd gone past the stop we needed but the driver was very kind and pulled over to let us off, as the next stop was another half a mile up the road. Walking round the front of the bus so we could see the traffic we crossed to the side we needed to be on. Some idiot decided he was going to overtake the bus at twice the speed limit and missed us both by a whisker. That was near death experience number 1.
Trudging up the side of the road (where the cars whizz past very close as there is no pavement) for about a mile we go back to where we had seen the sign for the Garlic Farm (that bus must have been travelling faster than we thought). We turned down the next road where the sign was pointing to find there was no pavement on the narrow road either and each side was a steep sides with barb wire at the top. There was just enough room to walk with cars going past but when we saw a tractor coming up behind us, that took up the entire road, all we could do was to scramble up the bank on one side and cling on the barb wire at the top. That was near death experience number 2.
Eventually we arrived at the farm to be greeted by a field of gorgeous long haired cattle. (I don't know the breed but they have big horns and snotty noses). We sat a watched them for a while whilst we got over nearly being flattened by a tractor. The scenery around us was beautiful countryside.
We then wandered into the farm to see what it had to offer. The truth - not a lot. There's not entry fee, largely because they couldn't get away with charging for what was on offer. There was a nature trail through the fields which we did not go on as to add to our luck that day it had just begun to tip down. We did however have a soggy look around the 'Maize Maze.' Yep it's exactly what you think it is. It was impressive to see crops like this and be able to walk through them, though I feel the 'maze' element needed to be made a little more challenging for it took us about 20 seconds to find our way out again. One thing I will say for it are the gorgeous wild flowers that surround it, which were a beautiful sight and we took many photos.
As we walked into the courtyard at the front of the farm shop there was a very well done chalk board showing 'a day in the life of The Garlic Farm.' I was excited to see what else in this vain the place had to offer. The answer was nothing. In actual fact, all that there is, is a restaurant and farm shop. I was hoping there would be a lot more interactive things to see and do.
The advertising for the farm boasts of the Red Squirrels and Peacocks and how you can watch them whilst you sample their award winning food. I imagine on a nice day it would be lovely to sit out in the pretty courtyard and do this. It was a lovely setting. However little had been done to ensure the customers had a good time here when the weather wasn't as good. Certainly we didn't see and animals who were very wisely tucked away somewhere out of the wet.
Inside the restaurant was heaving. We were told it was a 45 minute wait for a table, and considering there was nothing else to do for that amount of time we decided to give it a miss.
The Garlic Farm shop I suppose is the main draw for this place. In fact it should really be called 'The Garlic Shop' and not 'The Garlic Farm'. It would better tell people just what's on offer. The shop sells all sorts of different garlic as you would imagine. In addition to this all the sort of farm shop products you would expect. Chutneys and sauces were big. There was large table displaying all sorts and were there for sampling. My man decided it would be a good idea to try the chilli sauce that contained 'the hottest chillis on the world'. Needless to say he regretted that. I have to say the marinated garlic cloves were to die for but when I tried to buy some there were no prices and such a queue at the till to ask.
We had visited a local farm type shop in Shanklin the day before and a lot of the produce was identical, but here was priced a lot higher. For example some of the chutneys were £4.80 a jar here but we had seen them £3.60. I left with a bottle of fresh apple juice, some elephant garlic (a larger gentler tasting variety) and some chocolate and garlic ice cream (I'll be reviewing this seperately).
Hardly worth the mission.
On the way back we got ourselves a taxi, and got back to Shanklin in around 15 minutes. Just proof this is somewhere only to visit if you have wheels. Funnily enough when we got in the cab the driver said "How the hell did you get out here in the first place?!"
If you fancy visiting the farm the address is
Newchurch, Isle of Wight
or visit www.garlicfarm.co.uk for more info
But my advice, don't make a special effort to come here. Really only worth it if you're passing.
Summary: Very disappointing.
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