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



The Red Lion - Freshwater (HR)

Top 5 2017/18

TOP 5 2016/17

It returns after a couple of years in the doldrums as a new chef enlivens this eatery. The funky, misspelled menu has gone. The interior however remains the same. The one major change is that it wants to be a restaurant and not a pub. But it canít make up its mind whether to offer table service or bar ordering service. I think the eatery prefers the former but the staff are not fully trained to be constantly on the alert.

So, the food. My bet noir regarding risotto was assuaged. I had the tomato and chorizo (fusion?) it was perfectly cooked, rice firm and overall a loose, creamy, texture with an abundance of flavour. Risotto can be boring so flavour has to be nothing less than moreish.

On a later visit I thoroughly enjoyed the pan fried seabass with a giant crab cake and a wonderful tomato, caper and tarragon sauce. The reputation of an eatery can be destroyed in one fell swoop on a head chefís day off if the second chef is not properly trained. Head chef Dan Mitchel need not worry his second in command did him justice. I am looking forward to a return visit.

Over heard in an Island Pub

"I'm sorry we haven't got Chardonnay, the nearest we have to that is a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc"!!!

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Taverner's -  Godshill  (HR) PC

Top 5 2017/18

Best Pub award 2014/15 and 2013/14

"Best Pub" Award 2013 and 2012

These days wherever you go menus are totally predictable, gourmet burger, slow cooked pork belly (reheated yuk), crab cakes, cod with chorizo, goats cheese with beetroot, sticky toffee, panacotta, brownie and so on. Whilst this is more acceptable in a pub than in a restaurant I expect a higher level of creativity as well as first class cooking in a restaurant.

What makes The Tavernerís exceptional is that Chef Roger does offer the odd run of the Mill dish (oddly he no, longer makes his own burgers but buys in local lamb burgers) the majority of his menu consists of eclectic dishes. Yeh! why waste your time on moulding a burger when there is so much more to be created in the kitchen. Indeed all the so called gourmet burgers that I have eaten this year are only better by a very narrow margin. The Brawn who has got fed up of eating out with me recently told me that he prefers a thin rather that fat home made burger because the beef is browned/charred over a greater area and therefore more tasty. I think he has a point.

I remember that when I ran my restaurant foody magazines were far more sophisticated than the publications of today which have been dummed down.

Where is it? At the Newport side of Godshill Village

Seaview Hotel  Pub  (HR)

I prefer to eat in the Hotelís pub, it has more atmosphere. Although the restaurant has lost its blue and is more welcoming.  began with goats cheese salad with beetroot. I have already mentioned it in the Seaview restaurant review but to repeat myself the venison cottage pie was fab-u-lous.



Bonchurch Inn - Bonchurch (R) PC

TOP 5 2016/17

TOP 5 2015/16

Joint "Best Pudding of the Year" Award 2014

"Best Pud" Award 2012 now classed a "Little Gem"

What I like about the Bonchurch Inn is that they have a concept and stick to it. They are not influenced by trends and the latest fashion food. They do what they do (Italian inspired cooking) and they do it well. The menu is small, pasta (gluten free available), stone baked pizza ad specials board.

It has changed little over the years. Dark inside with scrubbed floors like a back street Italian bistro. This is its charm. There is a walled courtyard which is the cool an a great place to be on a baking summerís day. In winter you will find locals huddled around the fire, kegs of beer and ladle loads of nostalgia. It is an Inn for grownups prepared to accept what is on offer.

I had the meatballs with pasta and they were so robustly good I returned a couple of weeks later in the hope they were still on the menu. I was in luck. My last visit was for crab and prawn risotto. The staff apologised for the delay as it was cooked to order. This explains why it was so good in texture and flavour. Of course I finished with their wonderful Tiramisu which is ten times better than the version sold at Jamieís in Portsmouth.

There are rules. If you sit in the bar area you will be asked to move, this area is reserved for their regular locals of which there are many and they like to show their appreciation. The kitchen is across the courtyard so if you go when it is raining your meal might arrive wet. You have got to like quirky.

It a hidden gem. Parking is limited and it is tiny inside. More seating outside in the Summer.  But as they say small is beautiful.

Where is it? - From Ventnor to Shanklin turn right towards Bonchurch pond. Drive slowly or you will miss it. it is on the right half way down the hill. If you get to the church you have gone to far.


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