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.
in an Island Pub
"I'm sorry we haven't got
Chardonnay, the nearest we have to that is a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc"!!!
Taverner's - Godshill
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
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
TOP 5 2016/17
TOP 5 2015/16
Joint "Best Pudding of the Year" Award 2014
"Best Pud" Award 2012 now classed a
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.