As 2017 drew to a close, we were, as usual, regularly asked if we have visited every eatery on the Isle of Wight. The answer is, not yet. Nor are we really fat; although Matt’s working on that.
The Island’s food still surprises and delights us. There are some powerful new hitters on the scene, including Scandi locavore Heima in Brading. Way down south, Ventnor’s Smoking Lobster has an experienced team at the helm and the talent to work its magic on the region’s seafood. We enjoyed some spectacular local sea bream in this lively little seaside venue.
But it’s not all about fine dining; Dell Cafe, Tumblers and Island Bakery are small venues with big strengths. Ozze’s Plaice (feature image at top of the page), the locals’ secret chippy in Pan is rightly feted as one of the best on the Island. We’ve spotted trendy new cafes, including the flagship Caffe Isola in Newport, plus No 64 and The Cakery in Cross Street, Ryde. These three venues are helping to regenerate peripheral streets in busy towns.
We also enjoyed many established businesses, including the Garlic Farm Cafe and The Taverners, both of which proved that the secret to their longevity is consistently good food using hyper-local ingredients.
For years street food has been dipping its toe in, and 2017 was the year it finally took the plunge. The I Love Wight Food Market introduced us to Chinese dumplings to go and pedal-ground coffee; brought Salty Willy’s delicious fresh fish to a new audience and soon expanded from Brading to the dizzy metropolis of Newport.
We’ve had some great service in unexpected places; Nick in KFC, Newport acted as Kream ball ‘sommelier’, answering Cat’s questions with the patience of an experienced waiter.
The trend for artisanal produce continues. Off-Island, we have noted the reputation of the Tomato Stall, IW Distillery, and, of course, the Garlic Farm flying the flag.
People often tell us that we have the best job. True, but it could be so much worse – and back in 2005 it was. Thanks to the food suppliers, creative chefs and polite and friendly servers, you’ve made our eating out adventure even more fun!
This article first appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press.