Off the Rails - Yarmouth (HR)
Top 5 2017/18
TOP 5 FOR 2017/18
TOP 5 FOR 2016/17
I like this eatery, mostly for the venue - opposite
a nature reserve, but the food is great 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.
Yes they do burgers but give that a miss and go for
the Railroad Ruben. A toasted ciabatta brimming with slow cooked slices of
brisket, dill pickles, celeriac slaw, melted cheese and some sort of
wonderful dressing. But the pièce de resistance is their 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 is no longer good - it is still brilliant
More than anything I love their attitude towards
feeding the children. Don't expect chicken nuggets!!
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
With two eateries to run (The Auctioneer
at Brading) I was worried for Emma's consistency. But she has trained her
second in command well. her absence was barely noticeable. The hot crab
ramekin scented with tarragon, the garlicy crevettes and the rich rustic
soup are as good as ever. As usual it looks as good as it tastes
Tel: 07832 874270
The Auctioneer -
Part of a small complex that
many moons ago used to be The Brading Wax Works.
There has been a mixture of
eateries coming and going at this venue since the Wax Works closed.. Emma (also of the Beach
Hut, Bembridge) is now giving it a shot.
What I like about Emma is
her massive, unwaning, enthusiasm and hospitality as well as some
jolly good cooking. Her hot crab ramekin is in situe as is her lobster bisque and
her magic touches.
From the off you are made to
feel very welcome - I am sorry to say such hospitality is sadly lacking in
many places on the Island. Clearly Emma can't wait to cook for us and her
joy seeps deeply into her fare. Emma is only mildly influenced by current
foody fashions. She cooks her own cuisine to her taste.
Food is rustic and tasty
served in a cosy setting that has Emma's name written al over it.
Emma also runs the Beach Hut in Bembridge.
Where is it? Brading High St. park in
the village car park and walk the few step down to the main entrance.
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 their speciality. 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
They don't serve a perfect cappuccino but the
flavour is superb, the best I have tasted on the Island thus far (by the way
no one on the Island knows how to make a perfect cappuccino)
Where is it?- St Thomas Square, Newport. Above the fashion shop
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.
NO 64 - Ryde
they serve Breakfast and Lunch but I would call it all day Brunch. Most
dishes have an egg or two. This is what I mean when an eatery ignores the
publics basic menu demands and sets out to be different. Not only that they
are busy so breaking the mould is clearly a success story.
that run No 64 are of the "cheeky brand" in the nicest possible way. I
noticed on both of my visits that they have a massive regular clientele.
Portion sizes can be a little erratic but hey ho they don't charge the
Where is it: 64, George Street, Ryde.
Harbour Kitchen - Cowes (HR)
TOP 3 2019/20
I was going to the literary
festival. Rather than going home from Naturezones - the little charity I run
at Blackwater I decided to go straight to Cowes and have a bite to eat
in town. I have been to Harbour Kitchen for a coffee so decided to pop in
for a burger - burgers are my latest mission -I am not actually a fan of
burgers. Frankly it was bloomin delicious. Real beefy flavour, nicely
browned, tasty cheese topping with mayo and special burger sauce dressing
etc. Excellent value for money.
I sat outside in semi dark and
was amazed how many people passed by that I knew. Even had a chat to a
former catering lecturer from the college.
It is as all burger bars should
be young and trendy great for the young and those like me looking for a
touch of nostalgia. I have been back twice since. Indeed with the Brawn who
dived into the cajun chicken burger. He professed it to be the best he
had ever had.
Where is it? Cowes High Street,
opposite The White Stuff
01983 297 559
Old Smithy - Godshill (HR) after 20
years at the helm making it her own you could say
Top 5 2017/18
TOP 5 FOR 2017/18
TOP 5 FOR 2016/17
TOP 5 FOR 2015/16
"Best Cafe" Award Award
2011" 2013/14" and 2014/15
Jackie King is indeed
Queen of the Kitchen. With a small team of cooks in a tiny kitchen she can
cater for 40 coaches, all wanting cream teas plus a car park full of day
visitors looking for a toasted sandwich, a jacket potato a cream cake or
macaroni cheese. Not only that it all tastes like top quality home
Chefs who think running a
kitchen with a team of other chefs for a few tables could learn a thing or 2
This is old fashioned comfort food. Cheesy
macaroni cheese, generously filled jackets and baguettes. Sunday breakfast
see the place full of walkers
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
horizon. Jacky does have Neil as second in command and he does not let her
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. Talk about a woman multi
Jacky and her small team
the most consistent cafe on the Island and I probably go there more than
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
Bernaise Sauce - In
technical terms it is a warm emulsion.
Heat together in a saucepan 3
tbls wine vinegar, a few peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, 1 small chopped shallot,
sprig fresh tarragon and sprig fresh chervil. Heat until reduced to 1
tablespoon of vinegar.
In a small bowl beat together 2
egg yolks, a tspn softened butter, pinch salt. Place the bowl over a
saucepan of gently simmering water. Beat mixture until slightly thickened.
Strain on the reduced vinegar and mix in. Beat in 110gms softened butter
take care not to overheat water or sauce will split. Finally stir in a tspn
each of freshly chopped tarragon and chopped chervil. Serve with beef
steaks, lamb steaks and venison steaks
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 arrives 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.
Adam has moved on from his cult sandwich bar to a menu that is a more
still largely whacky (I am using the original 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 and it is great to engage with
someone who understands proper cooking.
Coffee is served here
Now open in the evenings
Where is it? Ventnor High street,
heading towards Shanklin and on the right.
RECIPE TIME - PAELLA
Ingredients can vary.
But paella will always be a slightly fluffy dish - unlike risotto which is
stirred to extract the starch to make a sticky, creamy dish. Paella will be
flavoured with saffron - a pretty crucial ingredient. It is nearly always a
mixture of fish and meat. Shellfish, cod, hake, chicken and/or some sort of
sausage or ham - although chorizo can be overpowering and herbs, usually
Then there will be
onions, capsicums, chopped tomatoes, peas, garlic. Paella Bomba rice - not
arborio. Vegetable stock and oil for pre-pan frying the shellfish, fish,
meat, onions, peppers. Fry to brown one ingredient at a time and put to one
side. To the same pan add the rice, chopped tomato, saffron garlic. Add
stock simmer for 5-10 mins. Add rest of ingredients. Stir carefully to
amalgamate everything then leave to simmer very gently until stock is
absorbed. DO NOT STIR AS YOU WOULD A RISOTTO. This is not a sticky dish or
indeed a watery one.
The Smokehouse - Newport
How many ways can you make burger and fries or
chips. It’s not rocket science yet the eateries that specialise get it right
and the rest tend to miss the mark.
If you remember Hard Times in Shanklin in the late
70's you will recall it was burger in a sesame bun, dill pickle, bacon,
cheese, hash browns and plenty of cocktails. It really was the in place to
be, busy whatever time of year
Before the beefburger took hold it used to be the
hamburger at the local town cafe or the Wimpy bar.
Then Hard Rock arrived in London in the late 70's
and with it the burger revolution.
The Smokehouse offer a good beefy beef burger at a good
price and it comes with dirty fries - i.e other things piled on top making
it a meal in itself. It is aimed at the young and trendy but all ages gather
there especially the children of the 60's. If they put in some proper
heating I would go there in the Winter too.
Where is it? Holyrood Street, Newport
Tel: 01983 300470
The Beach Shack formerly Devonia Kiosk
Leaps and bounds is how I now describe
this great little eatery. Beach Kiosk favourites such as sausage and chips
are dwindling in favour of some rather interesting Summer Holiday wonders.
Spain? forget it. Stay on the Isle of Wight and frequent this and several
other well run summer eateries.
You can still get chips and burgers but
why bother when there are more interesting things to chose from.
They are now literally Sky High with a fab
upward extension giving even better views over the ocean
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 balls.
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.
Piano Cafe - Freshwater (R)
Of course this is not a tea
house with bone china cups, chintz curtains, and waitresses in black with
frilly white aprons. This is the sort of tea house where your would expect
to see a coterie of poets huddled in a corner eulogising over the importance
of syntax. definitely in keeping being so close to where Tennyson lived.
This year I thoroughly enjoyed
there wild mushrooms on toasted ciabatta. There is currently a trend for
this dish in several eateries. This was one of the better ones. On another
occasion I gave their burger a go. All OK for the price. Now for me there
are not many ways that you can improve a burger which is why I rarely order
them. But this year I decided to test them where possible. The criteria is
as follows....First of all it has to be 100% beef with a touch of seasoning
and NO rusk. Nicely browned but not burnt. Bun must be toasted on one side -
the inside. 1 lettuce leaf, dill pickle, mayo and mustard mix dressing and
maybe a slice of tomato. I am happy for it to come with bought in fries but
not if I am paying more than £10.95
Piano Cafe closes during
January which probably upsets a lot of people in the West Wight - where else
can they go!!. Their menu is simple and uses the freshest ingredients.
Piano Cafe: Gate
Lane, Freshwater, just past the church with the thatch roof
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? .
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.
Tel: 01983 855819
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
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