Scooterists! If you’re in Ryde for the 2010 International Scooter Rally, you’ll be looking for somewhere to eat.
You won’t be disappointed, because Ryde has the best range of eating places of any town on the Island. Many of them put on Scooter Special breakfasts and menus, but which to choose? Matt and Cat’s handy guide gives you the latest tips for the top eating-places in town.
Breakfast: the Ryde Scooter Breakfast has almost become an institution in itself, and the choice of venues is vast. But why not venture a little way down Cross Street to find the new Missy J Café? It’s a cute little café that does some delicious fry-ups in a not-too-greasy spoon type location. Occupying what was once a plate-daubing shop and, prior to that a chemist, this perky little eatery has one of the nicest doorways in Ryde. Curved double doors set into the building’s corner afford views down George Street, across the Solent and – on a clear day – of Portsmouth’s landmark Spinnaker Tower.
Fish and chips: look, there’s no polite way to say this, so let’s just be blunt – don’t go to the Codfather. Yes, it’s handy. Yes, it’s open all hours. But the food really isn’t that good at all. And yes, we know you’ll go there anyway. But indulge us. A few paces away in Monkton Street is the excellent quality and top value Chipmunks. The friendly and brisk service adds to the experience, plus, if you’re in a hurry, it’s almost always possible to park right outside. Or new on the Esplanade right at the bottom of Union Street the Little John Eater isn’t bad either.
Restaurant food: as well as cafés galore, there are some good places for dinner in Ryde. Matt and Cat like Liberty’s and Olivo, which both offer classy, Mediterranean-style menus and excellent service. But don’t pass by the venerable Yelf’s Hotel, which usually has a very good restaurant menu on offer as well as good value bar meals.
Bars and Grills: fancy good food, but something a bit informal? There are two places you must try – the new Bay Grill at Appley beach, a bit out of the way but well worth the effort for the sublime steak. If a really good beach-side meal is what you are after, this place has to be one of the top picks on the Island. In Union Street there is also the Blacksheep Bar; you shouldn’t miss the unusual and delicious tapas at lunchtime or early evening. Its adjoining courtyard has been sympathetically upgraded; etched plate glass walls keep out the draughts and potted plants create pleasant screening. The cocktails are also great, and if you linger on there’s even a cosy private bar downstairs where they usually play some suitable music until the small hours.
Pub grub: scooterists’ favourite the Crown Hotel, which has served Ryde for two hundred years, is in a prime position next to the newly refurbished St Thomas Square. The menu has a good range of light bites and pub grub. Not a particularly adventurous selection but one which certainly suits your reviewers. Wetherspoons is of course like every other Wetherspoon’s; but go a little further towards Newport to find the Fleming Arms, Binstead, which does some excellent steak deals and very generous portions. The Fleming Arms is set out as a family dining pub, but it also retains a large public bar area at the front where jolly locals laugh, chat and quaff ale engagingly. The dichotomy between eaters and drinkers can be a delicate balance, but it is one which the Fleming seems to have pulled off, and with its vast dining-area out the back big groups of people will probably be able to eat here a lot more easily than in town.
Of course, Matt and Cat’s hot picks aren’t solely for the scooterists. And plenty of other places could have got a mention; there are many other excellent eateries in Ryde and across the Island. Do you think M&C’s selections are good ones? Got your own to add? Leave your thoughts below.