We spent a pleasant evening at Bonchurch’s Pond Cafe for a nine course dinner created by chef Chris Denney, who was keen to introduce Island diners to his new and decidedly cosmopolitan menu. However, he also chose that night to announce that he was leaving, and so the fortunes of the little restaurant were in flux again.
In summer 2014 keep your eye out for another season of The Dome (pictured), an exclusive pop-up in Bembridge showcasing the talents of Holly Maslen and Alice Lee. We had a delicious and fun dinner in this unusual venue.
New to the Isle of Wight’s festival calendar in 2013 was the Chilli Fiesta. We popped along; chilli-shy Cat managed to find herself lunch without any of these pungent peppers and Matt went meat-free for the day. We both had another veggie meal at Well Bread in Cowes, although this one wasn’t so well received.
Dining Club dinner: Ventnor Botanic Garden “Oops don’t step on that dandelion – that was your next course!”
August means Cowes Week and, once again, we did our survey of Cowes Week food prices. Crunching those into our database we discovered that food prices had gone down in some instances – as reported in the County Press. While we were in the town, we had dinner with some friends at Coast. A very popular venue but things didn’t go quite according to plan.
The folks at Visit Isle of Wight asked us if we would like to escort a visiting journalist around the Island. We jumped at the chance to show off what this little county can produce. Theo, with his dining partner Hermus, writes restaurant reviews for a Dutch newspaper with a vast circulation. We took Theo and his wife to the Isle of Wight Cheese Company where Richard Hodgson kindly showed us round. We then had lunch at Ventnor Botanic Garden followed by afternoon tea at the Royal Hotel. A pleasant day being tourist guides!
We managed to fit in a couple of reviews in August: we had a decent tea at the hidden gem that is Shanklin’s Paramount Cafe; Ventnor’s Royal Hotel, which we were keen to revisit following the shake up in the kitchen; and Joe’s in Ryde which had relaunched itself as a go-to burger joint.
In August the Island did well in the the national Great Taste Awards 2013. Minghella’s ice cream, Catch of Freshwater, Island Bakers of Lake and Wild Island of Gurnard and Brading’s Wight Kitchen were all recognised by the Guild of Fine Food.
Dining Club dinner: August break.
As a part of the ‘Lost at Sea’ arts festival, Observer restaurant reviewer and TV food pundit Jay Rayner hosted a special dinner at the Little Gloster to present the radical ideas in his new book – A Greedy Man in a Hungry World. We were among the first to buy our tickets, keen to hear what the man had to say about food sustainability. Another ‘Lost at Sea’ event that we enjoyed was the Seafood Supper at the Seaview Hotel. With an illustrated talk from local archaeology expert Dr Ruth Waller on the shipwrecks of the Isle of Wight, followed by a delicious sea-themed dinner, it was a lovely and informative evening.
Our guest reviewer for Bestival was Ian Winter, who delivered his verdicts on the food in a pithy style. We found the time to pop to Ventnor for the fabulous Fringe festival. It was a squally day so we took shelter – and lunch – in Cantina and had a decent cuppa and lovely cake at At Sarah’s House.
In September, Rob and Rachel Burrows at the Pointer Inn, Newchurch won the South East and London region for Best Cellar in the Great British Pub Awards. A well deserved win.
Dining Club dinner: Needles Battery Supper with “stories of some of the curious happenings that have made up the history of this bizarre and fascinating fastness.”