Wights Fish and Chips
It may be the depths of winter now, but imagine the scene: having spent all day on the beach during a rare hot August Bank Holiday, a day-tripping family tidies up their detritus.
Nan is levered out of the deckchair and Dad bounces assiduously on the hissing inflatable banana until it slowly goes flaccid and is packed away. Struggling back up the hill, the whining kids, piebald with suncream, are famished from a long day of throwing sand at each other, and Mum's thinking with little relish about the prospect of heating up tomato soup on the Camping Gaz stove. Just then, a fish and chip shop comes into view, the tempting aroma of hot oil wafting across the pavement and drawing the hapless tourists unresistingly inside.
If our hypothetical hungry family is in Ryde, they'd do well to stop at the first chippy near Appley beach, Monkton Village's Chipmunks. Matt and Cat have reviewed that venue favourably, but it is only one of several contenders in the town. The family could maybe step a bit further west. No, no, not to the Codfather, slightly south west and up the hill to Wights. Although a tad more than a hop, skip and jump from the beach, this chippy is well-placed at the junction of Ryde's precinct, near a pub, cinema and bingo hall - perfect for passing hot-snack-hunters. And so it was that Wights was Matt and Cat's chosen venue for a fish and chip supper with a visiting relative from London.
Wights is a venue of two halves: the right side devoted to the takeaway, where patient punters queued for their deep-fried manna at the stainless counter. The port side housed the restaurant where Matt and Cat's party was accommodated at two tables, promptly pushed together by the maitre d'chips, whose courteous welcome and flourish of menus was an unexpectedly attentive touch in such a venue.
The restaurant's interior style gave a respectful nod to the world famous Harry Ramsden's fish and chip palace with its chandeliers and table service, although it showed its proletariat roots with its slightly less grand squeezy tomatoes.
The menu was typical chip shop fare with an abundance of fish, sausages and pies. Also on offer, exclusive to Wights, were burgers from Ryde butchers Martindale, made from 'certified free-range 100% Aberdeen Angus Scotch beef'. Continuing the local provenance theme one was served with 'award-winning Isle of Wight blue cheese'. Another - the 'Volcano' - was adorned with jalapeño peppers. The burgers were surprising enough but the presence of a wine list was quite unexpected; it's not often that Matt and Cat have had a sit down meal in a licenced chip shop.
Haddock and chips £6.70
Fishcakes and chips £3.95
Curry sauce £1.10
Stella Artois £2.95
Heedless of Wights' decent menu, Matt and Cat's London visitor - like the exemplar family of beach grockels - was determined to have fish and chips. Matt joined him, whereas Cat chose fish cakes imagining - falsely as it happened - that it would be a modest supper. Taking advantage of the unexpected drinks licence, the men had beer. Cat drank coke, which was delivered in a traditional glass bottle.
The cheerful chatter of the fryers and customers next door continued, as people bustled through the busy shop. Despite this activity, there was only a short wait for the privileged sit-down diners. The cheerful waiter soon delivered the fried offerings, which were presented nicely; with little pots of what had to be home-made tartare sauce and freshly-cut lemon wedges. Cat's fishcakes even came on a fancy restaurant-style square plate and with a curry sauce side. The waiter remembered both the drinks and food orders, delivering the right dish to each of the diners. This level of detail - remembering who had what - is not always seen even in the Island's most illustrious restaurants. One of Cat's colleagues tells of the embarrassment she felt when, on a first date, a local waiter arrived at her table, dessert-laden, and shouted "Who's the tart?". So it was an absolute treat to be served at Wights with such attentiveness. After all, no-one wants to put their hand up to the announcement "who's a regular pollock?".
The proof of the pudding was in the eating and in this case the dining party was united in praise of the suppers. The quality was good, and the piping-hot food was fresh from the fryer. Cat's fishcakes were very much to her liking. Incredibly, considering their bargain price of £3.95, they were pretty fishy - not disproportionately filled with potato as so often is the case. The curry sauce was a great addition to the delicious chips too. The chaps' fried fish was the perfect consistency, with a generous coating of batter that was crispy on the outside but still soft within. And alongside everybody's meal, hot, tasty and with perfect 'bite', the plentiful chips were beyond reproach - with that elusive mix of textures that can only really be achieved by eating the chips fresh.
Dessert was on offer - including sticky toffee pudding, no less - but nobody could fit it in. The modest bill came with a handful of mints - continuing the restaurant theme to the last. Clean plates and a satisfied family made the verdict clear: Wights is as good a sit-down fish and chip restaurant as can be found anywhere on the Island. It is highly recommended.
Address: 41-42 High St, Ryde, Isle of Wight PO33 2RE
Phone: 01983 618743
Categories: Restaurants, Take aways, We love!, Family friendly, Ryde, Fish and chips, Local produce
14 comments (newest first)
The bar has been set for fish n’ chips after the lunch we greatly enjoyed at Wights Fish and Chips. My wife and I are from Chicago, where fish n’ chips is a common menu item and usually…just okay. At Wights, she had the cod and I had plaice, also called “flatfish,” which our server, sturdy Wyf of Bath type – who regularly addressed all customers as “My love” – described with a laugh as “triangular” (later I saw a picture of the fish that confirmed this rather strange description). The plaice was a bit more “fishy” and soft-textured than the cod, but both were outstanding, as much for the quality of the fish as for the frying, which also influenced Carolyn’s judgment that the chips were “the best ever.” Both chips and fish were fried just before serving; the chips and the breading on the fish had a lacy, delicate crust, leaving tuber and fish flesh moist and almost fluffy. The tartar sauce did seem homemade, as did the mushy peas, a very, very satisfying lunch. Like much of the food we’ve had on Isle of Wight, it was simple stuff, containing just a handful of high-quality ingredients, well prepared, almost humble but demanding attention; nothing fancy, just basic good tastes from fundamental foods shown to good advantage.
Just had Haddock, chips and mushy peas for £7.00. Probably the best I’ve had since moving to the island over two years ago! The service was outstanding (lady with red hair and young lad) and the venue was exceptionally clean and busy. On making my order I was told it would take 7 min for the fish to be cooked from fresh. The fish was wrapped individually so the chips remained dry and crisp. It was incredibly tasty. Would highly recommend
I’ve tried four other chippies in the Ryde area’ and Wight’s is certainly the best so far. I would rate Terry’s in Wootton Bridge a close second, and Chipmunks a 3rd. I would recommend avoiding both the Codfather and Corries Cabin in Ryde. The food from both these establishments is not of the quality I expect (in my opinion both are awful).
Thanks Matt and Cat as your review was spot on this time. In fact, apart from your review on Dos Amigos and Corries Cabin, Ryde; I would highly recommend the reviews on your site,
Again, thank you Wights for an outstanding meal.
Good fish and chips
Well, yes, if I had just landed from Mars, and had no prior experience of fish and chips, I guess I would give it a top rating. Good service, smart decor, copious condiments. No bones in fish, and all done to a good quality. But hold on, I’m not from Mars and remember vividly that revered temple that we knew as the Renown Fish Bar in Oakfield High Street in the 1960’s. That is the yardstick - and where is that extra aura that defines a true chippy? Not at Wight’s I’m afraid.Chips hard on the outside rather than crisp and fish had no give in it, was hard and rigid rather than curved and pliable. And the chips, did not have that slight lubrication that the authentic ones have, or that slight “smoky” taste if Renown in days of yore. No comfy corners at Wights - you are on show to the world. To have the authentic experience go to Alexander’s - that’s where the true spirit of the chippy survives par excellance….
Have been here twice since my first comment. The first time the food was fab, lovely chips, crispy on the outside but soft + fluffy inside. We had double cheeseburgers with them which tasted pretty good too.
The second time I was a bit disappointed at chicken & mushroom pie being the only flavour available so settled on a fishcake instead, which was ok. This occasion however the chips were no where near as good, it seemed we had been given ‘bottom of the barrel’ so to speak, mostly just crunchy over-cooked bits.
Maybe we were just too impressed the first time round. Having said that we would definitely go there again, would like to sit in the restaurant next time.
Had some Chicken Nuggets & Chips as a takeaway from here the other day, didn’t have to wait long at all. The food was fresh and hot, also with the friendly staff. and all came to a cheap price, was lovely. Will definitely be back soon.
When I moved in with my husband (A Ryde boy born & bred) four years ago, I tried several chippys but one taste of Wights and I refuse to go anywhere else (Hubby previously used Alexanders but the service in there is atrocious).
The takeaway and restaurant are both exceptional, the beefburgers served in the latter especially so, although when I last ate there I was surprised to be served a medium rare burger, relatives from Leeds were impressed by this but not me, I’d have rather been given a choice! They also do have chicken nuggets, not the rubbish served at most fast food outlets but actually proper chunks of fried breast
Matt and Cat respond: Thanks for your comment, Tiffany. We agree - Wights is a gem!
No Mat & Cat, you didn’t give me cause to expect chicken on the menu. I wasn’t referring to your review, it was just an observation that I think it’s very odd for a chippy not to offer chicken portions (i.e. legs or breast) these days. All the other ones I frequent seem to have chicken (other than just in their pies!). In anyevent, apart from that small issue I think the chips are top notch from Wight’s. I havn’t tried the fish yet.
I popped in last night for chips and curry sauce. Very freindly staff but I couldn’t see any chicken on the menu…. surely I must of missed it? Chips were A1 by the way.
Matt and Cat respond: Thanks for your comment, Neil. Did we give cause to expect chicken on the menu? We didn’t refer to it in our review. However, we did take a picture of the menu when we were there and Wights do serve chicken and mushroom pie!
wights is the only chippie we will go to…its delicious! never had a bad meal here
Used to go here years ago as a child when it was called Tony’s Restaurant, then after that a few short lived different owners could not live up to the previous quality. For that reason I have not tried the Wights restaurant but will be now, I am very tempted by the angus burger with IOW blue cheese.
I love the chips from Wights and staff are always friendly. I wish I could use them more but vegetarian menu is lacking. Stick battered mushrooms on there and I’ll visit more often!
Do they actually do Pollack ? . .if so all credit .. if not , Why not ? . .
Matt & Cat respond: alas no. Please forgive us our artistic licence in this case. But they should. The only place to get cooked pollock and chips on the Island we’ve found is Ventnor Haven. So, as you say, Simon: chip shops, why not?
i wonder if they do gluten free?