Note: in July 2011 DB’s changed its name to Number 3.
Matt and Cat took it into their heads to dine in Cowes. As it was getting late in the season it was pretty quiet, and they enjoyed a peaceful stroll along the parade, watching the Red Funnel ferry slowly glide by, as those aboard climbed up into the brightly-lit lounges on their way to the mainland. Sometimes it’s fun to drive onto the big boats and buzz off to some adventure – at other times it’s nice to remain behind, waving as the ferry passes. Matt and Cat waited, watching the dark gathering in the gently sloping woods of East Cowes as the wash of the ferry reached the promenade.
Walking back up into the town they entered that small maze of roads that includes numerous boutiques, eateries and estate agents. Where once boat-builders and seamen had their modest houses, now the rich and famous jostle annually with Islanders in Cowes. The hungry promenaders were making for DB’s, a little restaurant tucked away down a couple of steps just off the main thoroughfare.
DB’s has a small frontage, but extends back quite a way. Matt and Cat were greeted politely, and soon settled themselves in the window seat to contemplate the menu – surprisingly short yet reasonable in price; so reasonable in fact that M & C – to the sound of boats being metaphorically pushed out – ordered a starter, and Matt even went for a glass of rosé. The starter was an antipasti platter of parma ham, bruschetta and mozzarella, and to follow Matt picked chicken breast in a grain mustard sauce, whilst Cat had the daring sea bass with mango and ginger.
Enjoying the very pleasant starter, your reviewers surveyed the other patrons. They noted with surprise and interest that one table apparently accommodated what was surely the last pair of native Sloanes in the wild. A dapper young chap with floppy hair and cufflinks was visible, nodding mutely at his dining companion. Her unrestrained dinner-time conversation seemed to be a litany of the faults of her friends and family, interspersed by descriptions of glittering social occasions. All this was delivered in penetrating upper-class accents that one imagines to have become extinct in the late 1970s. A nostalgic treat for all the other diners – it was worth coming to Cowes for this alone.
Main: Sea bass
Main: Chicken breast
Total 2 x mains £25.90
Pudding: Raspberry panacotta
Pudding: Rice pudding
Total 2 x pudding £10.00
2 x coffee £5.00
Rose wine (glass) £3.95
The food rolled up on some cutely-shaped plates. A round plate for Matt, a square one for Cat. Accompanying veg came in a number of matching wiggly little ceramic boats, giving the impression that possibly a very clever diner could fit the whole lot together in some way to reveal a picture. Borne on these vessels was some good-looking food. Cat’s filleted and seared sea bass was presented outside up, with a dollop of mango and ginger alongside. The fish was nice and tender with a subtle flavour, almost overwhelmed by the sweet compote. Matt’s solitary chicken breast looked a bit lonely on his plate, although a single tiny lettuce leaf was supplied to cover its modesty. The veg included a few new potatoes, some hearty squash, red onion and peas, in an unusual white sauce. A bit more might have helped, but at least they didn’t charge extra.
All this added up to a couple of well-presented and enjoyable dishes. The portions were not vast, but the modest prices further tempted M & C to order dessert. Cat’s raspberry panacotta with toffee ice-cream was very pleasant. Ice-cream connoisseur Cat thought that the toffee ice cream was reminiscent of Häagen-Dazs dulce de leche. Matt had rice-pudding with strawberries, hoping to dispel the ghost of unwelcome childhood rice-puddings. The little dish was simple, containing hot rice-pudding with fresh strawberries sliced on top. If the rice-pudding wasn’t Ambrosia’s finest, it was an excellent emulation of this tinned product. Still, nowhere did it say ‘home-made’ and both puddings were value for money.
DB’s is a simple and pleasing establishment that stretches neither the wallet nor the palette. For a quiet meal out, Matt and Cat are happy to recommend it.