Living in the green and pleasant land that is the Isle of Wight, Matt and Cat can't help but wonder how concrete-dwelling urbanites know when summer's arrived.
Surely they don't have the same pastoral indicators that a rural county can boast? No wildflower verges, shrieking swallows or the tedium of crawling through Sandown behind a mid-summer turkey and tinsel coach. Matt and Cat list these plus other key performance indicators, such as the sublime mid-summer pleasure of eating fish and chips out of their wrappers in a rainy and windswept coastal town. Following some enthusiastic recommendations, Matt and Cat headed to the Ventnor Haven Fishery to partake in this traditional seaside dinner ritual.
There are some naysayers who think that Ventnor Haven is an expensive and unnecessary despoilation of the southern coastline; an engineer's vanity project with few beneficiaries. Others love the fact that there has been significant investment in this run-down resort, leading to the remodelling of the Cascade, a great eatery, support of local industry and the creation of some much-needed jobs. However, this website is not the place for political commentary (that sort of activity is available elsewhere). Matt and Cat are just in it for the noms.
As it happened, the evening that Matt and Cat visited Ventnor Haven was one of the blusteriest the summer had to offer. Foolishly coatless, they huddled along from the nearby car park and took shelter under the Haven's eaves. Although the chippy's menu did not explicitly say so (apart from the Ventnor Bay crabcakes) it was assumed that the fish and crustacea were all caught in the nearby waters. Hyperlocal and free-range!
Cat had been recommended the most expensive dish - crab and chips - and readily agreed to try it. The lady in the kiosk explained how the meal was stacked: chips first then the crab's brown meat - which melted into the chips - and topped off with the textured white flesh. There was also a choice of dressing: Cat opted for lime and coriander mayonnaise. Various tempting extras were on the chalkboard, and Cat also bought a crab samosa to share. Matthew is a big fan of fried fish, and after looking at a wide range of fish on offer, chose pollack and chips. Pollack, according to the Marine Conservation Society Good Fish Guide, is more sustainable than cod - in fact, pretty much any white fish is more sustainable than cod. What's more, it opened up the possibility of a whole range of cornily predictable double entendres: and as responsible food reviewers Matt and Cat were not going to turn down any pollack-based pun that was handed to them on a plate. Or a cardboard tray.
Pollack and chips £6.95
Crab and chips £8.50
Crab samosa £1.60
As the food is cooked to order M&C were pleased to have the opportunity to wait a little bit longer out of the wind. The cheery lady chatted away to them and they watched her colleague fry up the dinners. As the food was served, both Matt and Cat were frankly disappointed at the tiny amounts of chips that were laid in the cardboard troughs. However, they were enormously cheered by the sight of their portions of fish which were contrastingly generous.
Taking their wrapped dinners, they looked around for a place to eat them. The car was an obvious choice; warm, dry and with a view of the English Channel out of its salt-sprayed windscreen. However, M&C imagined they were made of hardier stuff so they hiked up the cascade to the little south-facing shelter. On a clement evening it would be a perfect sun-trap from which to watch the night draw in. On the day that Matt and Cat visited, the wind and rain made a bee-line for the shelter, buffeting M&C and their unwrapped dinners. The discarded papers threatened to fly freely about the pleasure garden so were hastily scrunched into a bag.
Look, we're just going to have to get this joke out of the way, so we can move on. Are you ready? Here goes. Matt was impressed with his ginormous pair of pollacks. No, seriously, he was. The meagre chip ration was utterly dwarfed by two chunks of the white fish, which was every bit as tasty as cod. The batter was better than the usual offerings at chip shops, crisp on the outside and deliciously soft on the inside. The chips, what there was of them, were good. All-in-all an extremely positive experience.
Cat loved her crab and chips - in fact, so much so that she persuaded the Pilot Boat to replicate the fab meal two days later! As promised the brown meat had sunk down between the chips and was slightly warmed. The mayonnaise was delightful; clearly freshly-mixed with discernible aromatic leaves. The whole meal was exquisite. Obviously there were a few splinters of crab shell but Cat has yet to eat a crab without her sensitive tongue detecting the tiniest bit of resistance. The crab samosa, which Matt and Cat shared, provided a final morsel of pleasure. It was lovely, mild and creamy with a hint of sweetcorn kernels to add texture: an unusual and enjoyable end to the meal.
So, almost top marks for this splendid local fish dispensary. It's fun to go out to the little hatchway and actually stand above the harbour where the fish is brought in. Plus there are plenty of places nearby to sit and eat your fish-based takeaway while enjoying some of the finest views on the Island. The service was good, and the staff charming and well-informed about the produce. The prices were not unreasonable, given the quality of the food, which was great. But come on, more chips please!
Categories: Take aways, We love!, Family friendly, Ventnor area, Fish and chips, Local produce
Absolutely lovely place!
I learned from the server that they peel all the spuds BY HAND!!!! Blimey, if it was me I would be serving half the quantity. I suggested that she makes her boss buy a spud rumbler from Ebay. Here's hoping.
I will be going to Ventnor a lot more in future.
The Fish was beautiful and a decent size portion but £15.80 for 2 Portions of Pollock and approx. 8 Chips each is abit steep.
Would only go back there if they put the prices down a little or the amount of Chips up.
Don't get me wrong, yes, you do get what you pay for, BUT...PURLEASE!!!They really are taking the 'chip' serving what is supposed to be amazing & local produce! Can the local Trading Standards please pay them a visit & do something about them as I feel this is a bad representation of OUR ISLAND!!