Social media coverage has been blamed for a lot of things – election results, disgraced politicians, a decline in educational standards – but one thing that the coming of Instagram can most certainly take credit for is the the advent of beautiful food. Yes chefs, if your dishes look good on the small screen, people will want them. By this medium Cat’s cake-detecting sensors had been tingling for some time, stimulated by regular gentle internet reminders from Blueberry’s about how lovely their home-made cakes are. Eventually the temptation proved irresistible, and thus we found ourselves looking at the magnificent view of the Channel through the front windows of the little cafe.
From the start, we recognised a key theme of any cafe that dares to stay open throughout the winter – and that theme is dogs. Not for Blueberry’s the periodicity of a winter closedown, no, this place stays open all year and to do that it has made itself a Mecca for a key market segment: the dog walker. Rain or shine, the dog needs walking and what could be nicer than to finish up that walk with a warming cuppa in Blueberry’s? You can even buy vegetarian dog treats there, sourced from local supplier The Pet Bistro. Certainly in chilly February we found the place packed full, so much so that people – and dogs – were waiting for tables.
This is a very welcoming venue, where the friendly little community of regulars takes their ease. As we squeezed into a table, past various children, hounds, fleeces and cagoules, we were greeted not just by the proprietors but by some of the customers, who chummily identified us as holidaymakers, and as we chatted were entertained to discover that we had in fact come from Ryde specifically to try the cakes.
Macaroni cheese £5.25
All day breakfast £6.95
Tea for two £3.25
Peanut butter cake £2.95
To prepare for the cakefest we thought a light lunch might be in order. Matt inevitably took on the all-day breakfast, whilst Cat uncharacteristically picked macaroni cheese from the specials. The breakfast was a bargain, coming with not only a cup of tea but also two fresh, hot slices of toast. Matt as usual eschewed beans but was rewarded with double tomatoes in exchange. The satisfyingly soft eggs lolled suitably alongside the crispy bacon, and even if the ‘butchers sausages’ and accompanying mushrooms were a bit on the dry side, Matt was happy to forgive.
The macaroni was served with two big, fresh pieces of French stick, warm and yeasty from the oven. Cat eagerly tore them apart to dip into the plentiful cheesy sauce. The macaroni itself was a big bowlful topped with some grilled tomato slices. Cat tipped it out onto her plate to speed its cooling, relishing the unbeatable simple goodness of hot cheese and carbs on a cold winter’s day.
And so to the afters. Outside the cafe, a chalkboard proclaimed the cakes of the day. Proprietress Claire had already explained to a neighbouring table that all the cakes were home-made by her and her mum. And in the corner of the cafe, a glass cabinet exhibited the day’s wares. On the rack was peanut butter, cranberry, coffee and walnut and lemon drizzle.
Cat has a theory that cake is like sausage. Bear with us. Cakes (and sausages) can been seen as an exciting treat food, but alas are so often disappointing – and nobody likes to eat calories without gratification. But the rare times when cakes (and sausages) are good, they are a delight; moist, tasty and a guilty pleasure. Hang the fat content; this is the food of the Gods. And so the search continues, with disappointments piling up along the way. Expectations at Blueberry’s were high.
Choosing the most towering of the selection, Cat returned to the table with a slice of three-tiered peanut butter cake. Expecting peanut butter fondant, Cat was surprised that the sponge too was peanut flavoured. Nuts can often be dry, but this was fabulously moist and slightly dense. The three layers were cemented with peanut butter icing and topped with chocolate nibs and half a peanut butter cup. Over Christmas Cat ODd on so much Ben and Jerry’s peanut butter cup ice cream and Reese’s Pieces that she’s almost turned herself against the nut – but this cake restored her faith! Succulent without being sweet, tasty but not overpowering. Top stuff.
We had a load of tea which we supped while watching a robin cling to the fence outside with its twiggy legs. In the summer the view across The Bay should be great; on a drizzly day it was still possible to see Sandown Pier, across to Culver Down and the English Channel. The clifftop hedge has been punctuated to allow patrons seated inside and on the patch of grass beyond to get a better view – if they can take their eyes off their cakes!
So, like Ryde’s Number 64 and The Dell, Blueberry’s is a popular community cafe with a friendly atmosphere. It has a reliable menu, filled with staples like jacket spuds, sarnies and paninis, and supplemented with some tempting specials. The family team at the cafe has done a great job in promoting the venue online and we’re pleased to report that the cakes are, indeed, as good as they look on Twitter.
This is the full-length version of the review that appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Spectacular home made cakes
- Friendly environment
- Dogs welcome