NB: Liberty’s is now closed. Liberty’s Cafe Bar is a new feature of Union Street, a road undergoing a remarkable revival. With perhaps the...

NB: Liberty’s is now closed.

Liberty's

Liberty’s Cafe Bar is a new feature of Union Street, a road undergoing a remarkable revival. With perhaps the greatest concentration of listed buildings on the Island, Union Street has intrigued visitors and locals alike with its mix of the mundane and the fanciful – extraordinary Victorian architecture above sometimes tawdry and decaying shops. But no longer. The boarded-up frontages are gone, the charity shops have fled to the upper High Street, and the Victorian arcades and shops have reawakened from their decades-long slumber behind plywood. Union Street can now boast more new cafés, bars and restaurants than any other place on the Isle of Wight. Liberty’s, is, so far, the most remarkable and overt example of this transformation.

Entering the new premises, and, indeed, throughout their visit, your reviewers were amazed and delighted by the venue. In fact, Cat kept breaking off from eating just to gawp around. Other diners would have thought that a bit rude, if they hadn’t been doing the same thing themselves. The Victorian shop-front and interior have been immaculately restored and rebuilt over two floors to make a subtle, stylish art-nouveau themed bar and restaurant which is respectful to the magnificent original building whilst still being a very practical eating-house. This is the sort of thing the National Trust strives to do well – rarely can it succeed as well as Liberty’s has. The visitor, on arrival, enters the large comfortable bar – complete with lounging sofas. Then, up a magnificent ornate staircase that would not disgrace a New York department store, can be found the Grand Dining Room – and grand it is.

Liberty's, Union Street, Ryde
Your reviewers were amazed and delighted by the venue.

The food came after some delay, which gave Matt and Cat plenty of time to enjoy the plentiful atmosphere. The short menu had some very good choices, and several tempting specials were also on offer. Matt tackled an exquisite jerk chicken with lime sauce, whilst Cat essayed a deli-sized bowl of chicken pasta. Both meals were superbly presented, and of the best quality. Quantity, by contrast, was perhaps influenced by nouvelle cuisine – the portions were not vast; a bread roll or ciabatta would have been welcomed to soak up some of those delicious sauces. This minor shortfall was remedied in part by a splendid fresh and spicy winter berry tart with ice cream.

Liberty’s has the innovative policy of excluding under-14s every day except Sunday, and thus it enters both the ‘Family friendly’ and ‘Kid-free’ categories.

The design of this restaurant has set a new standard for places to eat on the Isle of Wight. Your reviewers have regularly revisited since this successful first encounter: so far they have not been in any way disappointed.

NB: Liberty’s is now closed.