Little Gems





Recipes and tips

A  seven day eating holiday on the Isle of Wight

2013/14 reviews

2012/13 reviews

2015-16 reviews

2016/17 reviews

2017-18 reviews


PC means proprietor/chef


Links:- and Hewitt's Restaurant


Past Reviews 2018

Dan's Kitchen- St Helens (HR) PC

"Best Restaurant" Award 2013

"Best Bistro Style" Award  2012

I really like consistency. There is nothing more disappointing than having a great meal one week then taking your friends back, having raved about it, only to find standards have dropped, chef has changed, the menu is significantly different. No such thing happens in Dan Maskell's kitchen. A dish this year of Roast Partridge with boudon noir was beautifully prepared and came with perfectly cooked vegetables, excellent black pudding (not the supermarket variety) and the rich sauce reduction. Dan tries the odd unusual thing which I applaud but not always successful such as the cold tomato soup with avocado sorbet. Both were good in their own right but it was a disjointed marriage. I used to make a hugely popular chilled tomatoes and red capsicum soup Recipe below. when I had my restaurant. The trick was that it had to be ice, ice cold, very fresh and strongly flavoured.

I asked him If I could mix up his puddings so that I ended up with soft wobbly ginger jelly with Rhubarb sorbet. This is an obvious and well tried combination and it was a joy to eat. But not for long because the ration was far too small. I like my puds to last more than two mouth-fulls. Small portions are fin e if it is a taster menu.

Chilled tomato and red capsicum soup

1 kilo sun-ripened tomatoes

2 red capsicums (halved and seeds remove

2 large onions

2 cloves garlic

1 hpd tspn marigold vegetable stock

Small carton of tomato juice ( pour the juice into an ice cube tray and freeze)


¼ cucumber

1 beef tomato

1 small ripe avocado pear

Olive oil


Roughly cut up the onion, tomatoes, capsicum and garlic. Scoop into a

saucepan and add 1 ltre cold water and the stock. Bring to almost a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until all the ingredients and really soft and squidgy.

Liquidise this mixture and pass through a mouli sieve to remove seeds and skin. Put in a container and chill.

Make the garnish no more than I hour before serving other wise the avocado with “tarnish”

Peel and deseed the cucumber. Peel and de-seed the tomato. Remove avocado from its skin. Dice these three ingredients in to tiny confetti dice and mix together.

To serve. Add the tomato juice to the iced soup mixture. If too thick add some iced water. Ladle into soup plates or bowls. Put a spoon of the garnish in the centre. Put 2 or 3 tomato ice cubes around the bowl and drizzle over some super delicious olive oil. Serve and return for seconds.

Tel: 01983 872303


Where is it? Park on the car park on the green. Walk across the Green in  the direction of Bembridge. It is on a corner, you can't miss it.

Burrs - Newport (R) PC

The food at Burr's suits the surroundings. Is it coincidence that most of the Island’s best chefs and cooks work in eateries with good atmosphere and setting, be it the décor or the situation. For example, Dan’s Kitchen, Locks Lane, Shed, The Hut, Beach Hut, Crab Shack, Garden Restaurant, The Bistro, Sarah’s House, and Burs.  Are they inspired to produce good food to compliment the venue or are their surroundings  a protraction of their own personality. Burrs is intimate and very French in style. On the menu was skate with butter sauce. I love skate with beurre blanc and capers but lately I have been cautious. Skate if not super fresh develops an extremely unpleasant taste and smell of ammonia. Burrs version was competently cooked and tasted fresh. Before that I had the scallops with sweet chilli sauce. Scallops are difficult to cook and timing is of the essence – it is more a case of setting the protein rather than cooking it. Chef Matt Burr’s timing was immaculate.  The raspberry meringue to follow was very nice indeed. Matt has been running Burrs for getting on for 16 years and added he is not. Food is as good now as it ever was.]

Avoid the table by the door on a winters night you will be blasted with ice cold air every time the door opens

Where is it? East side of Lugley Street 01983 825470

Yarbridge Inn - Sandown PC


This used to be a pub but it now definitely a restaurant. I went with the Foody Four. That is me and three other girls who like to eat good food.

The eating area is small and you are kind of sitting on top of one another. The food was of a traditional restaurant standard. i.e good things to eat without the pretensions of fine dining. Duck with orange sauce, Cottage pie, fillet of beef medallions.,

This is clearly a family run eatery all working together for the common good.

If someone can come up with something between Pub food and fine dining they will be ontp a winner I am sure. Dinning Pubs are close but I am really talking about a restaurant that is in a good venue, is comfortable, pleasant, attentive, restaurant service with a smile.

01983 405585


Where is it? - At the traffic light junction to Bembridge and Arreton


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 review.

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Mojacs - Cowes (HR) PC

TOP 5 2015/16

"Best Restaurant" Award 2015 and 2014

Joint "Best Pudding of the Year" Award 2014

"Best Pudding of the Year" Award 2010 and 2011

Basically I have never eaten a single thing at Mojacs that I have not enjoyed. This is not a chef that caters for fashion. He knows what tastes good, he knows how to cook it. I guess he eats his own food.

What I like about chef Mark Baldwin’s cuisine is that it is grounded. Sound unpretentious dishes that consider what the diner would enjoy eating. The melt in the mouth pork belly was served with a little pork fillet, I have also eaten Duck breast that came with confit of duck leg. The confit was similar to a dish I had in France some years ago. It was all beautifully cooked and served with a perfect sauce reduction.

I had to have my favourite pudding which was raspberry meringue this and the tiramisu at the Bonchurch Inn are still my top Island eatery puddings. Interestingly, this year, I have noticed several other eateries putting raspberry meringue on their menu. None of which have been a patch on Mojacs. Marks is a meringue like no other - on the Island.

Mark has been the chef/proprietor of Mojacs for over 15 years and jaded he is not. The years have have shown that the more you do the better you get.

Where is it? - Top of Shooters Hill Cowes Tel: 01983 281118


Royal Hotel - Ventnor (R)

They are definitely back on track. Their menu is small and relatively safe apart from the chef’s obsession with.soufflés. On the starters there is a Gallybagger soufflé. I have had it with a cheeses sauce delicious and on another occasion with a cauliflower puree. The former being superior. Then there is the pudding course. I have had an amazing, fantastic, raspberry soufflé with intense raspberry sorbet and recently a great, tangy cranberry soufflé with pistachio ice-cream and gingerbread sauce. Although tasting good the pistachio ice cream and gingerbread sauce did not marry well with the soufflé. Maybe an orange sorbet would have been a better accompaniment. What is so good about these soufflés is that they don’t taste eggy and I reckon there is more egg white than egg yolk in them.

Years ago I used to make a hot apple soufflé that I turned out of the mould before serving and accompanied it with a blackberry sauce. It had no egg yolk in it at all and never failed.

The menu doesn’t change that often and we the Foodie Five were offered virtually the same choice in December as we were offered in October. In October I had the Belly of Pork (what ever happened to pork fillet and pork loin). Ok so they are more difficult to cook than re-heated belly but I think it’s time to move on or perhaps back to the future. Anyway it was delicious. I also had a pigeon kebab with a parsnip puree. It was so good that we decided to book up for our Christmas do.

A few days later I was there again for a wedding anniversary meal. Cauliflower soup with a seafood cream and lightly diced scallops – fab. Followed by the best Roast beef meal I have had in years. Beef good and medium rare, a small piece of braised brisket, crispy roast potatoes, a great selection of vegetables and good flavoured gravy. In contrast the meal was rustic compared to the delicacy of the evening food. The dessert was a deconstructed trifle. I am not a great fan of de-constructions they are normally a disaster with the body of the dishes flavour lost in the scatterings. This again did not taste of trifle. Nevertheless, as a dessert it was superb particularly the jelly. A plate of the jelly with fresh fruit and cream would have been spectacular. There is a saying “Keep it simple stupid” and all the best eateries do.

01983 852186


Where is it? Drive west along the Ventnor Esplanade up the steep hill, turn left and there you are

Locks Lane  - Bembridge (R) PC

When I hear one of my favourite songs about, sand dunes and salty air and quaint little villages here and there suddenly flat through the air, I begin to pray that the food will be good.

At last ( I make no apologies for sexism) a female chef making her way and putting her cooking skills on the line. We have had an overload of male chefs emulating the TV gang. Now here we have a young woman putting her own take on things. Her background is chalet catering so her influences will be eclectic to say the least.

Her watercress soup would send the Roux Brothers (my influence when I was a chef) reeling in ecstasy. Watercress soup is the most difficult soup to make if you want to get it right and involves a lot of sieving. Hers was perfect with her own added touch of a tiny amount of smoked haddock.

On another visit I had confit of duck leg with a little bowl of potatoes cooked in cream. I felt this dish although perfectly cooked needed a little something else - a sauce maybe. I just know that in time this little eatery will become small and very beautiful.

That's two female cooks in Bembridge making their mark - Bring it on.

01983 875233

Where is it - In the village of Bembridge.



Thompsons - Newport (HR) PC

TOP 5 2015/16

For those of you that don’t already know this, fine dining is not about going out for a meal it more of a theatrical experience. Many years ago I ate at the Sharrow Bay Hotel in Cumbria when Francis Coulson was at the helm. At the end of the meal the chefs paraded out of the kitchen into the dining room to take a bow. Thompson is not so pretentious but the food is of the sort that warrants it.

I went for lunch on my birthday. So it was a special occasion meal which is what it will be for most people. As you walk in it has a bistro rather restaurant atmosphere. All hard surfaces with a buzzy tone.

The food was without doubt good. My starter of wild mushroom risotto was bordering on perfect Italiano. The Cauliflower velouté with some sort of foam was indeed brilliant with the true flavour of cauliflower and stock to the fore. We both went for the venison with oysters, a few leaves and a driddle of red wine reduction . The trouble with fine dining is you never get enough of the stuff (sauce) that brings the dish together. Part of the joy of eating is to be able to savour the food. With taste buds seperated between sweet and salt on different sides of the tongue and things on the plate the size of a sixpence much of this joy is going to be missed. Thompson mostly avoids this issue and if a reduction is sticky and intense you don’t mind the minute quantity. I would have liked mine a little stickier. The venison was cooked to total perfection, the oyster were warmed just enough to set the protein.. The venison was the most expensive dish on the menu with indeed the most expensive ingredients used , but I felt it was lacking things like game chips or a little potato fondant or a small spoon of braised savoy cabbage or perhaps a puree of celeriac. It would only have cost Robert a few pence more and would have given the dish substance. I am of course nit-picking.

My chum had the rum baba dessert which was somewhat “off piste”.In that it was a rather generous rustic concoction served with a flourish. A reasonably sized sweet savarin bun arrived on a bed of citrus fruit segments. The waiter then cut the bun almost in half and piped cream down the cut. He then poured white rum all over it. It was wow. I asked for ice cream. Two tiny quennells, one of which was bee pollen flavoured a sort of tangy honey taste and was indeed nectar of the gods

I worry for Robert. He has passion and ambition. I only hope there are enough Island residents and visitors willing to regularly pay his prices. Lunch is cheaper with a less sophisticated menu.

01983 526118

Where is it? - Opposite Morrison's

Olivo - Newport (R)

The menu has changed and it is smaller. What I like about Olivio is there is always a generous number of waiting staff who are there to serve with a smile and are not hiding in the kitchen. My Christmas lunch with Jeweller Nina Bully was so tasty neither of us offered a taste of each others. I ordered the calves liver with mash and crispy pancetta. It was divine. The sauce to die for. Nina had a similar view about the chicken skewers she ordered. I frequently pop into Olivo for a soup. They know how to make soup taste good.

Where is it? - St Thomas Square Newport.

Bistro - Ventnor (R) PC

Ownership has changed but the chef hasn't. This is excellent news. Him and his wife are now working extended hours to make their eatery work. Breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner. I popped in for a pudding and coffee while shopping. Glazed soft meringue with forest fruit compote and creme anglaise. the compote was more of a sweet conserve than a compote. The meringue was just how I like it and the creme anglaise light and fresh. I will be reporting on lunch very shortly.


Where is it - Top of Pier Street, Ventnor. Tel: 01983 853334

Little Gloster - Gurnard  (R) PC

What makes a gourmet burger? Is it the quality of the bun, the freshness of the salad, the juicy beef patty that has not been cooked to death but has a nice char grill flavour. Is it the variety of tomato, the dill pickle. Is it dressed with bought in or home-made mayo and American mustard. Is the bun toasted or soggy. Are the accompanying chips skinny, thick, bought in or home-made. Or is it just the fact you are being charged more for less. The problem with skinny fries is they go cold quick and it is a French concept as is the brioche bun. In a desperate attempt to justify the high cost of a gourmet burger it is has to be de-Americanised and Frenchified. I also think it is an attempt to attract off the street punters into what is essentially a high end restaurant, or is it the recognition that having money does not guarantee good taste so giv-em a burger.

The Little Gloster has a little menu selection. I like this. Large menu choices fill me with dread. How long has the food been hanging around? is it pre- made, frozen then re-heated? Is the eatery so busy that there is a quick turnover of food so a large menu of fresh food can be carried?

The disadvantage of a small menu is choice is limited (not a problem I suffer) so you need to like most things or be prepared to try something new. A slight downside is that their small menu rarely changes.

01983 298776

.Where is it? - Gurnard seafront, opposite the posh shanty town


Why do some eateries refuse to take credit/debit cards if a customer spends less than £5 in some cases £10. It's is a kind of punishment for not spending enough. In some cases they even make a profit on this customer by making a surcharge of £1.00. When all cards are based on around 0.58 - 1.5 %  interest The charge say on a cup of coffee of £2.25 of a pound is a bit steep. I very rarely have cash on me so often where I eat lunch is dependent upon who will fine me for not spending enough. With an increasing number of solo diners it's about time these places reassessed their customer service policy.

NB. I have frequently walked out of a place after ordering soup and being told that instead of £4.25 it will cost me £5.25 if I pay by card

Padmore Lodge, Beatrice Avenue, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO32 6LP