You’ll have heard us harp on about how Ryde is the international cuisine capital of the Island with its varied world food offerings. But what’s this? Is sleepy Carisbrooke snapping at its heels? The village is already home to one of our favourite English pub roasts, plus what must surely the Island’s oldest traditional Italian restaurant, Valentino’s, where even your grandparents may have flirted over a bottle of Mateo Rose on a date night.
And now, further Mediterranean fare has been added to Carisbrooke’s portfolio. More eastern Med than boot-shaped Med, ADA Meze Restaurant has sallied forth from its original restaurant in Ryde’s Leisure Strip creating an additional venue on the outskirts of Newport. As with the Union Street incarnation, we’ve been hearing some glowing reports of Carisbrooke ADA, so we popped along after a particularly busy day down the corporate salt mine.
One thing that stands out with ADA is the – quite literal – initial confusion over its name. Is it pronounced Ada [like that Hylda Baker sitcom ‘For the Love of Ada‘] or A.D.A. (ey-dee-ey), which is what most people seem to call it? The other thing that stands out is the service. As we approached the restaurant’s door, staff were standing by to welcome us in and shepherd us to a suitable table. Cat, typically, ignored the waiters entreaties for us to sit at the back of the shop and instead took the prime seat in the window, with a view of the village car park. She did have a moment of regret when some fellow diners took a fag break in the doorway, but they spotted the bench across the road and took their filthy habit there; only their initial puffs wafted in through the open door.
If you haven’t been to either ADA before then you’re likely to hear a well-rehearsed – and informative – speech about mezze. This is a sensible approach as some of us get confused about the ‘small plate’ concept and even more are discombobulated by the prospect of sharing.
We decided to load the table with our favourites, which for Matt were mostly from the hot mezzes side of the menu: whitebait and sucuk. Cat’s choices were from the decent range of meat-free dishes (all of the cold mezzes are vegetarian), with yogurtlu patlican and grilled halloumi. We also shared a couple of sides: Mediterranean cube potatoes and Turkish salad.
As complimentary baskets of fresh warm pitta with hummus arrived, the waiter described Turkish salad to us. It was like a re-telling of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears but instead of porridge it had leafless salad at its heart. There was finely chopped cucumber (which Cat doesn’t like), raw onions (which neither of us like), and tomatoes (which we both like). Being polite, we both nodded profusely at the prospect of this salad and added it to our order, wondering how we were going to pick out all of the bits.
Some fine magic had been worked on the salad as the ingredients had retained their crispness and zing, but had none of the spite that cucumber and particularly raw onion can deliver. The diced vegetables had been marinated; calming down the intensity of the onion and bringing out the richness of the tomatoes. And, like Goldilocks, we declared it just right and scoffed the lot.
Of the other dishes, Cat was particularly taken with the yoghurtlu patlican; a blow-your-socks-off blend of raw garlic and smooth cooling yoghurt blanketing pieces of aubergine. With the grilled halloumi adding its own idiosyncratic texture and a delicious sweet fig sauce, plus a handful of those potato cubes, Cat’s dinner had a good deal of flavour and interest.
Grilled halloumi £5.95
Yoghurtlu patlican £4
Turkish salad £3.50
Mediterranean cube potatoes £2.95
Large Efes (Turkish beer) £6.55
Wet cake £5.95
Matt is a firm advocate for the spicy Turkish sucuk sausage, served in ADA with a bright and breezy tomato sauce that made a simple dish into a delight. His whitebait, similarly, was just well-cooked and nicely presented fish, a little bowl of home-made tartare, and little else. Perfect. Like so many dishes on the menu here, the uncomplicated presentation gives the good-quality food an accessibility that clearly attracts a very broad range of diners – some of whom, one suspects, might be disinclined to visit a traditional Indian or Chinese restaurant.
We decided to stay for dessert. Baklava is top of the puddings list at ADA, but we resisted this hyper-sweet honied pastry, plumping instead for the mystery that is ‘wet cake’. Wet cake turned out to be a sort of thin layered chocolate trifle. Pleasant enough.
We also ordered tartufo; it was like a Magnum chocolate ice cream in dome form. The crispy outer shell contained a heart of standard chocolate ice cream plus the tiniest bit of soft chocolate centre. Again, a standard end to the meal.
ADA has exported its winning combination to Carisbrooke, with its exceptionally friendly, professional waiting staff and interesting menu. We’re not the world’s most experienced travellers and we suspect that some of these Turkish dishes might be modified for the Island market, but we’re not complaining.
This is the full-length version of the review that appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Decent service
- Good selection of meat and meat-free dishes
- Simple yet tasty