Ryde, like other Island towns, has tentatively peeped out from behind its hands, dusted itself down and regrouped in the wake of the post-COVID-19 lockdown. Some venues have repositioned themselves. Certainly elsewhere our friends in the business are considering a future not of eating in, but of delivery and takeaways. This will hopefully make them more responsive should the predicted second wave pop along.
But, for the moment, we are allowed to dine in, with certain restrictions. And that is exactly what we did last Sunday at the Blacksheep Bar. Anyone familiar with the venue will know that it serves good cocktails, has a very serviceable basement club lounge and a decent outside space fronting onto Union Street, great for people-watching. It’s a drinking bar, complete with sports on the big wall-mounted televisions. It also serves food, and during the daytime can be a comfortable casual environment for a leisurely meal.
The bar has a regular menu of burgers, snacks and even a vegan section (which mysteriously includes halloumi. No matter). But we were there for the Sunday roast. Well, Matt was. Cat was hungover after a session on the booze.
The roast was excellent value if you buy two for £15 – even one for £9.75 is not too bad. Matt chose stuffed and rolled pork belly – he could have had topside of beef or stuffed chicken breast wrapped in smoked bacon. The meat came as big, tasty slices, full of herb-rich stuffing. Alongside a handful of steaming hot proper roast potatoes came six vegetables, including a delicious buttery leek. The big, fluffy Yorkshire pudding was impressively fresh and moist inside. If the plate had had a bit of crackling, more gravy and maybe some apple sauce, it would have been elevated to exceptional status. As it was, even without the trimmings, Matt was satisfied with this very good example of a basic Sunday roast well-executed.
Sunday roast £9.75
Pulled pork fries £6
In lieu of the standard hangover recovery package of a Full English, Cat went for an alternative pig and carbs combo – pulled pork loaded skinny fries, which she had with a long glass of coke and orange juice. The sweet drink provided the right mix of sugar and vitamin C. The chips were standard; the sticky pulled pork warmed by its potatoey substrate. It was pleasant in a simple sort of way.
We were happy to be back in the convivial atmosphere of the Blacksheep Bar. The cheerful staff welcomed us in, and although they were clearly hard at it in the very busy bar, the meals came out in good time and we got full table service throughout. It’s a good place for a casual meal, take your mates and have a drink afterwards.
This is the full-length version of the review first published in the Isle of Wight County Press.