The year’s foodie bombshell came with the announcement that Robert Thompson (pictured) was off to “seek new challenges” and was due to leave the Michelin-starred The Hambrough, the restaurant that bore his name. We said at the time that it was hard to overestimate the contribution Thompson has made to the food and hotel sector on the Isle of Wight, and Ventnor in particular.
We had a delicious and simple lunch at The Foundation Bakery. Despite the personal service, home-cooked food and local ingredients the bakery closed its doors within the year. Having already dined at the Island’s highest pub this year, we made our way to the its most southerly watering hole, The Buddle.
We were extremely flattered to be asked to formally open a Newport venue with community at its heart: Isobel Cafe. We snipped a ribbon each and then had lunch with the locals, volunteers and staff at the cafe, who’d generously prepared avocado salad and lemon drizzle cake – both contenders for Cat’s favourite food.
On St George’s Day we were invited to the Seaview Hotel to try ‘new’ chef Alan Staley’s beef dinner which used beef from the hotel’s own farm. It was creative and delicious, but not one for vegetarians – even the pudding was made of beef suet!
We also managed to wangle an invitation to Dunsbury Farm’s lamb tasting session. An informative event, in which we saw newborn lambs, learned about their diet and then sampled and assessed meat of different ages and provenances (pictured: Steve Fruin, the Dunsbury shepherd).
Dining Club dinner: Priory Bay Hotel. We were “delighted, fascinated and intrigued by this impressive dining experience.”
While Matt was counting the Island’s local council election votes, Cat was in the studio telling Radio Solent’s listeners about the impending Matt and Cat’s Foodie Walk. About thirty people joined us on our walk – which was part of the the Isle of Wight Walking Festival, the UK’s biggest walking festival! We described various eateries as we walked around Bonchurch and Ventnor, before stopping for lunch in the sunshine at Ventnor Botanic Garden.
We had an interesting dinner at Ryde Fire Station, which was transformed for the evening into the Fire and Ice pop-up restaurant. With wines generously donated by the Island Wine Company, all moneys raised went to charity.
We were honoured when the Island Wine Company invited us to an intimate dinner at the Hambrough which marked the very last evening of Robert Thompson’s tenure at the hotel. It was a great evening, with a suitably splendid meal. Meanwhile, the advertised takeover date of May Bank Holiday came and went, and there wasn’t much sign of Mr Campbell or his head chef, Olly Rouse.
One of our favourite Island business (restaurants and pubs excluded!) is Vintage Vacations. We’ve been to, and held, several events at the stylish Mission in Chale and couldn’t resist the jamboree soiree at the campsite in Ryde.
We also had time for a couple of reviews: Dalyan, Shanklin (as patronised by Robert Thompson, we hear). The Dalyan chap was convinced that Matt was Turkish – something about his slightly disheveled appearance and bulk apparently marked him out as Middle Eastern. Matt was flattered but unable to admit to anything other than English ancestry. Also Forresters, Yarmouth which we concluded was a “robust and satisfying performance.”
Dining Club dinner: Northbank Hotel, Seaview “A wonderful experience at Seaview’s idiosyncratic hotel.”
Once again the weather for Old Gaffers was extremely sunny and, as tradition dictates, we bought some Isle of Wight Cheese Company limited edition Old Gaffer Blue. Another festival that we enjoyed, albeit vicariously, was the Isle of Wight Festival – from where our roving reporter Wendy Varley gave us her daily review.
We enjoyed some canapes at Dinosaur Isle and a sneak preview of the Walking With Dinosaurs film and the interactive meteorites, which tourism bods Visit Isle of Wight were hoping would bring visitors to the Island in their droves (more of which later).
We were thrilled when we went to Three Buoys, Ryde. This restaurant, which is practically on our doorsteps, has quickly established itself as a destination venue due to its excellent food and personal service. We also popped into Chessell Pottery for one of the cafe’s signature cream teas.
Dining Club dinner:https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151469137552007.1073741845.120048272006&type=1&l=bc8ead87c3 “> Chessell Pottery. It’s not just cream tea at Chessell. Chef Bridget Wells created a spectacular dinner for us, including an impressive helping of pork crackling.