Off the Rails - Yarmouth (HR)
TOP 5 FOR 2016/17
I like this eatery, mostly for the venue - opposite a
nature reserve, but the food is pretty good too. I always pop in on a casual
basis just for coffee, a snack or to meet up with a chum for lunch and a
catch up. It’s that sort of place. I normally park on the edge of Yarmouth
and walk along the path past the wetlands, binoculars in hand. Last time I
spied a family of teal. The time before bar tailed Godwits.
Their new menus sported the favourites, burgers and
ciabattas but I went for the chilli beans with rice and soured cream. The
flavour was fulsome and moreish. I would have enjoyed a fractionally larger
portion; it certainly left me wanting more. I have also, this year, enjoyed
their properly cooked risotto, the Luggage burger and soup, but the pièce de
resistance was their new dessert. So good I went back two weeks later for
more. A glass tower, three crystal clear layers, each one filled with some
lusciousness. The bottom larger layer was filled with poached plums in some
sort of almond alcohol, the next contained a raspberry sorbet on a puddle of
mango puree and the top layer was pooled with intensely flavoured purees,
mango and raspberry with something tangy and sharp and garnished with a sort
of minty crumb. This has got to be this year’s best dessert. Although that
is not to say the Mojacs’ raspberry meringue and Bonchurch Inn’s Tiramisu
are rated any less.
01983 761 600
Where is it - off the beaten track at
the former railway station
Beach Hut -Bembridge (HR)
TOP 5 for 2015/16
Best of the Best Award 2013/14
Emma and Jon took a back seat this year due to the
arrival of her first baby – congratulations both. It is a brave person that
passes their well-earned reputation into the hands of others. Emma had
nothing to fear. Her back-up did not let her down. In fact we didn't notice
any difference in the quality of the food.. Emma specialises in
freshness. Her food is alive and effervescent just like her. Her staff
clearly love her are proud of her food and it shows in their service. Dishes
are mostly seasonal seafood. I am only sad that she cannot find the time
make her own puddings. Even if it is only a couple well executed creations.
I used to serve a fresh fruit salad in half a scooped out charentais melon
topped with meringue and grilled. Simple and delicious.
See last years review for more information
Skin Trade - Newport (R)
Some eateries have a certain charm that captures the
imagination. This tiny eatery accessed up Dickensian staircase emerges into
a sunny, slightly retro 50’s room. Even the music is nostalgia ridden.
Food is simple, jacket, ciabatta or wrap with choice
of interesting fillings. Soup of Day (SOD as they say in the Antipodes).
Cakes are homemade on the Island – whatever that means - and extremely good.
Definitely of the home-made species. At least three are gluten free and one
vegan. I particularly enjoyed (on different occasions) lime and coconut and
spicy orange and walnut). Coffee has a good smooth flavour.
Gluten free is so “in” there will come a time when
“GF” won’t have to be advertised. They taste as good if not better than
wheat based cakes. The same can’t be said for GF breads that are on offer in
the Supermarkets. It is getting better, but there is still room for
Where is it?- St Thomas Square, Newport. Above the fashion shop
Deli on the Green
Polish chef Peter Kwaitkowsvi.has become a
Going back to the scotch eggs, the sausage meat has
a herby Mediterranean flavour and, this is so exciting for me, The yolk of
the egg is still runny. And going against British tradition they are served
The Cow Co - Tapnell Farm
Hands up if you can remember Hard Times in Shanklin?
It was the Island’s answer to the then ground breaking Hard Rock Cafe in
London. It was the gourmet answer to the Burger with traditional sesame bun
and hash browns.
Posh burgers have been back for quite a few years
namely in restaurants trying to appeal to the common man (that’s me by the
way) and pubs trying to add value. Cow Co specialises in beef. The clue’s in
the name. The menu is small – tick. They use local beef – tick, Service is
excellent – tick. (I arrived seconds after they had taken an order from a
table of 20. But they got me in quick and delivered my burger pronto so that
I didn’t have to wait while the big table was cooked for. When you
specialise in burgers at a price they need to be good. The smoky one that I
ordered had masses of potential. It came with the now trendy brioche bun –
un-toasted - no tick, the dill pickle mayonnaise was inspired and delicious
the meat patty was the thickness of two thin ones stuck together. The whole
stack would have been delicious but for one thing. I guess the chef had
thought ahead- knowing there was a large table booked.Tthe burgers had been
cooked in advance and put in an warmer. So, rather than being freshly cooked
and juicy the patty was on the dry side. I forgive them this if was a
temporary solution for an unusually busy situation. As I said at the
beginning it was potentially a great burger. My crème brulee was very good
and was served with a buttery shortbread and red berry compote that as more
like a conserve, Its flavour was lifted with the touch of cinnamon. A
compote which is more like a fruit stew would have been better, conserve is
They have only been open for 6 months so it is early
days and they have made a good start. The restaurant has been well designed,
modern rustic barn set up with great views over the Solent.
Where is it?
Off the central road towards the West Wight
Back to top
NOTE to Diners. Chefs come and go quite a lot on the Island. Which is a
shame because an eatery is only as good as its chef. Often proprietor/chef
eateries are a more reliable option. Look out for the
PC letters next to a
Another note -Cappuccino
coffee is the one drink that I get really annoyed about. Most establishments
think that as long as it has chocolate sprinkled on the top that is all it
requires. Then there are those that think it has to have the froth piled on
top like a snow-capped mountain. A real cappuccino is 1/3 coffee, 1/3 milk
and 1/3 froth all below the rim of the cup. Milk to the rim is a Latte. A
large cappuccino is never served in a mug, that is disgusting. The chocolate
topping should be cocoa, not sprinkles and this is why I always ask for my
cappuccino without the topping as no one ever seems to use cocoa anymore.
Old Smithy - Godshill (HR) after 20
years at the helm making it her own you could say
TOP 5 FOR 2016/17
TOP 5 FOR 2015/16
"Best Cafe" Award Award
2011" 2013/14" and 2014/15
catering for the masses with a car park full of coaches it amazes me how
Jacky manages in a small kitchen with very little help. But she does. She is
a rare caterer and if she ever retires I can see no replacement on the
Jacky King has
been in charge of the kitchen for over 20 years. Her style is good home
cooking and top notch baking. This is not a trendy venue - there is no fancy
food but what she does she does very well indeed - with very little help.
Talk about a woman multi -tasking.
She gives us
the most consistent cafe on the Island and I probably go there more than
I wrote the
review below 4 years ago and nothing has changed - that's consistency for
serious catering for tourism. Plastic table and chairs, huge conservatory
overlooking the coach car park. The place is so popular there is almost
always a queue, but it is worth it for their huge (both in choice and size)
of naughty but nice cream cakes and my favourite,
Bonoffi pie the best on the Isle of Wight. If you are local and want to
avoid the crowds (not an easy task), go mid-week when the children are at
school or when it is a sunny day so that you can sit outside. The service is
efficient and pleasant. Amazing when they have to put up with hundreds of
customers every day. Food is simple, basic and well cooked. Robust soups,
tasty crab tart, fresh mackerel pate. Also, properly cooked jackets.
Where is it? - You can't miss it. Turn
off the main road in Godshill into the large car park on the right if coming
Chessell Pottery Barn
- Chessell (HR)
Best Cream tea award for several years now. classed as a
The cook - who used to work at the Royal Hotel is
certainly putting her mark on the place. The display of cakes makes you want
to buy something. She keeps it simple but good. I particularly liked the
summer fruit scones. Everything is super fresh and any left over scones are
sold in bags the next day for people to take home and toast.
They have now opened an excellent coffee shop in
Yarmouth. More on that later.
the best cream tea Cleary a great deal of attention and affection has
gone into this dish. perfect scones, great clotted cream by Calbourne
Classics, great fresh tasting locally made strawberry jam.
serve simple savoury dishes such as soup and local cheese ploughman's.
Where is it?
On the middle road to Freshwater just past Calbourne
The Winter Gardens - Ventnor
Travelling through a chequered history of
concessions, town council run, then concessions it is now run by the group
that owns the Pond and the Hambrough. The view from this venue is panoramic
and worth a beer or coffee just for that. The chef currently in place is
enthusiastic and likes rustic dishes. I have enjoyed large opne caped
mushrooms stuffed with peppers and baked with salad and most recently ham
hock terrine with a very good broccoli piccallili relish and toasted brioche
bread. The eatery shows promise.
I used to make a ham and
parsley terrine and served it with salsa Verdi. Recipe
In a pan
put ham, peeled onion/s, couple of cloves, 4 cloves of garlic, bay leaf and
large bottle of cider. Bring to the boil, skim the scum off the surface.
Lower the heat and simmer until the ham falls apart. Strain the ham through
a sieve reserving the liquid. Make the liquid up to ½ litre with water. Put
this liquid in a saucepan with eggshell and egg white. Whisk to make a foamy
egg white filter. Bring the liquid slowly to the boil then reduce the heat
and gently simmer until the liquid is clear. Strain through muslin and while
still hot melt in a leaf of gelatine.
Mash the warm ham with a fork.
Finely chop a bunch of parsley.
In a terrine layer the ham with the
chopped parsley and scatter with a few green peppercorns in brine. Pour the
liquid over the ham and put to set.
blender put, bunch of parsley, a tablespoon of capers, 4 anchovy fillets and
2 tbls of good olive oil. Blend to a puree. Serve with a slice of Ham
Bread - Cowes (R)
A new entry
to this guide and a new concept for the Isle of Wight.
has a mission statement, a sort of religious resurrection based upon
old fashioned values of honesty and friendship. Basically you order nothing,
help yourself and be honest about your consumption when you go to pay.
I was quite
excited by the concept and felt as if I was acting in a communal play, a
sort of interactive art installation. It may leave some customers feeling
uncomfortable but if they stay the course in another way it is confidence
Well bread is a bread shop that also sells giant tray bakes cut into good
sized wedges. But as well as buying bread you can beak bread with your new
found friend on the long scrubbed refectory table. I won't give it all away
because this is an eatery to be discovered. Putting it simply it is a DIY
cafe that sell fantastic bread. Go, try.
Where is it - Cowes High Street walking towards Bath road
Tramezzini - Ventnor
a touch of refurb' this tiny eatery now offer evening meals. I am not mad
about eating out at night time in the Winter but as soon as Spring, springs
I shall be there. In the meantime lunches are excellent particularly the
risotto so I have no doubt whatsoever that evening grub will be great.
It is difficult
to know how a place will turn out. When Adam and his business partner took
over what was originally a deli the locals were probably wondering what to
expect. Adam (a hidden talent) had already won himself a well deserved
reputation for good cooking in Ventnor but how was he going to deliver that
in such cramped premises. Well in actual fact he didn't try. He looked at
what was available and turned Trameziini in to a kind of cult sandwich bar.
Customers are largely whacky ( I am using the originals meaning of that word
before it came to mean something else!). All ages from 0.7 to 70 years old
frequent the place and if you look at them you can be sure they have an
interesting story to tell. I have come to know Adam, it is great to engage
with someone who understands proper cooking. So, when I tell him he is
underselling himself when he calls his divine little savoury tarts quiche he
argues back. "Well that is what they are, quiche. Crisp pastry case with a
creamy eggy custard filling enhanced with magical flavours" (Recently
olives, fennel, black mustard seeds, tomato and other delights inside a
delicious pastry case).
"Yes I know
Adam but the general public associate the word quiche with soggy, fatty
pastry and overcooked bland flavoured custard with a scattering of broccoli
or leeks or something".
"But Angela I
am showing my customers what a real quiche should be like besides they are
used to me calling it quiche".
How can I argue
that when it is what the WGFG is all about.
Coffee is served here
By the way they
do outside catering and provide amazing canapes
Where is it? Ventnor High street,
heading towards Shanklin and on the right.
is a dream holiday destination for alfresco eating and a cool windy August
deters no-one. I have to say that I could spend almost my entire summer
eating in this little gem of a place. Coffee and cake, crab sandwich,
lobster salad, grilled mackerel.
The Boat House - Steephill Cove
My first visit
here was over 8 years ago. I fell in love with it. The venue alone filled me
with happiness and ephemeral joy to be remembered like a holiday romance. In
2010 the concept is exactly the same. With fresh seafood from boat to table
on a daily basis, now as it was then. People ask me why I have given cafe
with a small menu offering the most basic of cooking a Highly Recommended
award. They have a mission and they deliver it - it's as simple as that.
tropics, imagine alfresco eating under the gentle shade of a palm-fringed
veranda and you have The Boat House. What a joy, what bliss. What pleasure
and how clever to think of planting a piece of the South Sea Islands on our
own Wighty shores.
Wooden slatted floors, canvas roof, directors' chairs, bits of old
rope twisted around driftwood rails. Stones off the beach, trellis walls and
trees growing through the floor contrast with damask napkins and large glass
goblets for the delicious house wine.
The menu is basically salad, salad and salad. I had the seafood
platter with an almost perfectly cooked lobster. A crab shell-filled with
hand-picked succulent brown and white crab meat and a dozen shell on prawns
resting on a large bed of salad. The seafood was incredibly fresh. The only
thing missing was a dollop of genuine homemade mayonnaise.
Desserts are homemade. My raspberry brûlée was completely wrong in
terms of it being made to an accurate recipe, however it was divine in its
own special way.
Where is it? The Boat House is normally
open every lunchtime so long as it isn’t blowing a ‘hooly’ outside and some
evenings. Next year they plan to open lunchtimes only.
Proceeding by car from Ventnor, the lane leading to Steephill Cove is 50yds
short of the Ventnor Botanic Gardens. Cars cannot descend to the cove, but
parking is available on the main road; or park at the top Ventnor esplanade
car park and take the cliff walk. Approx 30 minutes.
Crab Shed - Steephill Cove (HR)
Simplicity always works providing the ingredients are well chosen and of top
quality. Small menus always work and means specials really are specials and
not an attempt t get rid of yesterday’s left overs. The Crab Shack serves
the best green salad anywhere on the Island. It is dressed delicately the
leaves are fresh and juicy not prickly with rocket and it is lifted with a
few circles of wafer thin red onion. It accompanies super fresh fish
(usually mackerel) and seafood (lobster and crab) and crab pasties. No puds
just ice cream and excellent homemade Victoria sandwich. One of my favourite
places. I often walk to Steephill Cove from Ventnor car park. I’m ready for
my lunch by the time I get there.
Read last years review for more...
Cove - Steephill Cove
A small café in Steephill Cove serving nothing more
than ice cream, cake and coffee. So if you don’t want Victoria Sponge pop
along to Cove for coffee and cake or vanilla ice-cream and coffee
The Beach Shack formerly Devonia
Kiosk - Sandown
usual beach kiosk stuff comes a sparkle of good food from a couple who want
to offer more than just cheesy chips and burgers. They serve the best
crab cake I have ever tasted - ever, anywhere in the whole wide world -
this alone deserves an award! Also many wonderful home made soups;
including rich mushroom, intense pumpkin with crispy bacon and mozzarella
extended their "specials menu as a result of the success of their crab cakes
have they extended their specials they have extended their seating area into
a holiday-mode seafront cafe . Great place to sit on rainy days watching
the waves lashing the beach
should do themselves a favour and pop along there on a sunny winters day for
a warming special.
it? The first kiosk at the
beginning of the walk along the revetment to Shanklin.
Quarr Abbey Tea Shop (R)
I am amazed they manage consistency. Since opening
there has been many changes of chef yet the food remains consistently good.
The menu is a boring read, paninis, ciabattas, soup, a few specials. But the
cooking and presentation raises it the food to a higher level. They buy in
their cakes but they are very good. I particularly like the chewy lemon bar
and the special Quarr cake which is like a simnel cake. Soups are hearty
and flavoursome. I refuse the bread so they give me a few chips instead.
This winter I had the baked camembert with a dressed side salad and again
with French fries instead of bread – a very posh sort of cheesy chips.
The waitress service has gone much to my relief
Please read previous reviews for more...
Where is it - In the grounds of Quarr Abbey which is between Wootton and
Cooking tip - Beef burgers cooked rare or medium
rare should be put into an oven (150-80c) to warm through. The length of
time depends upon the thickness but generally peaking a home made burger
will be thicker than a bought in one and its edges will be curved rather
than straight. Then remove from the oven and cooked on a hot heat either in
a pan, clean griddle - that has no residual black bits - or under a hot
Wax Works Cafe - Brading (R)
We all love sunshine. It
lifts the spirits no end and this eatery is well positioned to get the sun
for most of the day.
Some of you may remember the
Wax Works Museum where you waked in a spooky, crooked path around the
building viewing the works. Now ti is opened out and I found it difficult to
place where everything used to be. The atmosphere no longer has spooks and
today it is warm and welcoming.
The menu is short - a good
sign. I also like a short menu because I am the worlds worst at choosing
what I want to eat. Unfortunately I liked just about everything on the menu
so back to square one. In the end I chose grilled gammon with buttery
spinach and potato mash, mustard sauce and a poached egg. The pyramid
arrived and it looked immensely edible. The poached egg was perfectly
cooked, the gammon was moist and not salty, the spinach buttery, the mustard
sauce wasn't "flaky", the mash could have been creamier and fluffier
but overall an very pleasant dish. My pudding of mango and passion fruit
pavlova had masses of potential , beautifully presented, loosely whipped
cream and delicious slightly cooked fruits, but the meringue was too chewy
and difficult to eat. (This normally happens when the meringue has been
cooked too quickly and has not been allowed to dry out in the centre.) I
like a tiny bit of chewiness in the centre but not for the entire meringue
to be chewy. it might be a simple case of getting to know your oven.
Huh ho, they have risotto on
the menu!! As well as other nice things that I want to try so I will be back
Where it is - Brading High Street,
where the wax work museum used to be. Pay Car Park near by and if you spend
over £5 you get the parking fee back.