Matt and Cat both have their birthdays in the first quarter of the year. Cat’s celebrations in January usually involve inviting a group of friends to a conducive location – in 2012 her party was at the spectacular The Mission.
For his birthday, Cat offered Matt the choice of Island-based activities. Rejecting the opportunity to pet a primate at the Owl and Monkey Haven, and poo-pooing Isle of Wight Pearl, he plumped for an all-day breakfast. But where to go? There are plenty of fabulous Isle of Wight breakfasts to be had, with top contenders at Richie’s Diner, Bluebells Café and Besty and Spinky’s but Matt wanted to go somewhere new. So using Twitter’s hive mind, Cat tickled some recommendations out of their followers and Tumblers was picked as the destination for the birthday boy’s big breakfast.
Occupying a corner plot at the top of Shanklin, Tumblers is well-placed to scoop up tourist traffic as it’s by the station and on the traffic main route through the town. Surprisingly, despite its prominence, it’s never appeared on Matt and Cat’s radar. And that’s a woeful omission.
The roomy diner has everything a café of its genre should boast: conspicuous, easy-to-follow menus – with beans-swapping options – free redtop tabloids, wipe-clean tablecloths and local radio blaring out. It’s also facing a south easterly aspect; perfect for the late morning sun. Matt and Cat took their seats at a sunny table then ordered food.
Buster breakfast: £6.00
Egg, mushroom and bacon: £2.30
Extra toast: 50p
Orange juice: 90p
The staff at Tumblers were a friendly crew and were happy to take into account Matt’s dislike of beans and Cat’s off-menu choices. Like most good cafés of the ‘greasy spoon’ variety, Tumblers has a comprehensive list of brekkie items that can be included or excluded from your breakfast as frequently as your heart (doctor) desires. Obviously Matt was there for a birthday fry up but the menu also had plenty of good value sarnies, toasties and baguettes, baked potatoes, burgers and a selection of main meals, and yes, a big, impressive veggie breakfast too.
Never one to order coyly and, after all, it was his birthday, Matt chose the ‘Buster Breakfast’. For six quid, this consisted of a veritable shopping list of ingredients: three rashers of bacon, three sausages, two eggs, mushrooms, tomato, toast and jam or marmalade with tea, coffee or squash to swill it down with. Beans were also included in the roll call but Matt substituted them for hash brown. Thankfully there was enough left in the kitchen for Cat’s mushroom, bacon and poached egg plus toast!
Taking the drinks to the table, Cat rejoined Matt and they sat basking in the sun like Ventnor wall lizards, involuntarily swaying to the dulcet tones of Enya’s Orinoco Flow which oozed their way out of the radio. Their reveries were broken by the welcome interruption of the food.
Matt’s buster breakfast was a veritable mountain of meat plus a big pile of chips and other assorted delicacies. On closer inspection, the sausages were probably not the butcher’s finest, and the chips were a tad undercooked (Matt even left some). The toast allowance was surprisingly mean – two pieces of bread between the two of them. However, this was rectified with an order for extra toast, which came promptly. The rest of the meal was certainly up to scratch. The two fried eggs were perfect examples – neither too runny nor solid, dribbly but not snotty.
Cat’s egg, mushroom and bacon freestyle combination was fabulous. The poached egg was perfect; a perky yolk surrounded by smooth and solid white. Not at all like the hard-poached version she’d pushed around her plate at Number 44. Also of note was the big stash of mushrooms and the half pint of orange juice she used to chase her meal down.
After their breakfasts, including the second round of toast, were eaten, Matt and Cat once again sat back and enjoyed the warming sun. They also enjoyed the view of their empty plates for quite a while. Perhaps the tardy table tidying was not a regular thing, although next to them was a lady making the most of the newspaper library, her long-eaten egg remnants coldly congealing on her plate as she read about the day’s scandals.
Tumblers was a great choice for Matt’s birthday breakfast. Sunny, friendly, accommodating and reassuringly typical. It wasn’t trying to be anything fancy, nor was anything of that ilk expected. Matt and Cat were after hot, freshly-cooked food and, the fact that it was served in a pleasant environment was all to the good. A decent, good value breakfast.