This is an archive review. Missy J cafe is now closed.
On a rare week day away from the coal face, Matt and Cat decided to have a nose around Ryde. Having wasted the morning mooching about on the intertubes and browsing the Isle of Wight County Press, they decided head up to town to fortify themselves with brunch. This was to be the first meal of the day for the pair so they didn’t want to spend long hunting for somewhere to eat – they were hungry!
As it happened, the first eatery they came across was the quaintly-named Missy J Cafe, a relatively new addition to Cross Street’s ever-changing emporia. 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. Bustling across the threshold, Matt and Cat were warmly greeted by a nice lady who, gesturing to the many tables with a sweep of her arm, invited them to take a seat.
Matt and Cat stripped off their anoraks and settled at a table on the dais. The waitress came trotting after them to offer drinks and to reel off the list of the day’s specials, which included some tempting hot dishes. Matt, of course, had already spotted that Missy J serves an all day breakfast and, negotiating a swift substitution of mushrooms for the unwanted beans, he was sorted.
All day breakfast £4
Cream tea waffle £3
Pot of tea £1.40
Orange juice £1.60
As this was essentially breakfast for The Cat, she was keen to find something sweet that might simulate her usual first meal of the day – muesli, strawberries and milk accompanied by David Paris’ orange juice. Scanning the menu, her eyes alighted on the perfect breakfast substitute – cream tea waffle! Ok, so clotted cream is a bit thicker than the usual semi-skimmed, but strawberry jam is a pretty good alternative to dried berries and waffle a stand-in for oaty carbs. The waitress allowed her to swap the tea for a cup of coffee and offered a glass of orange juice. Et voila!
Looking about the place while waiting for their food, Matt and Cat were pleasantly surprised. The interior of the cafe was clean without being stark. Interesting stone remnants of the building’s construction were exposed and framed, and beaded lizards scampered up the walls. At the front of the venue, the counter was laden with jars of cookies and a cake rack teetered under the weight of scones.
The cafe was filling up; a brace of old ladies discussed their failing eyesight, people were sat reading complimentary papers and the man at the counter seemed busy selling coffee to go. Cat’s coffee was lovely and Matt’s tea was served correctly – tea pot, little jugs for milk and extra hot water, a cup and saucer. Even the cutlery was rather high-end: Wilkinson Sword steak knives as standard.
Cat’s waffle was as described. The warmed dough was accompanied by a little pat of butter, the ubiquitous Roddas clotted cream and a ramekin of jam. Although the steak knife proved not to be the best tool for spreading the butter and jam, the waffle’s cavities soon filled up with a pleasing amalgam. Washed down with alternate swigs of the coffee and orange juice, the cream tea waffle proved a success with Cat.
Meanwhile, in the all day breakfast corner, Matt was enjoying poking the Lincolnshire sausages into the eggs’ yolks and, as Keith Newbery astutely surmised, mopping the juicy remains with his toast. Although, unlike Cat’s hot drink, his tea did not come as a standard component of the breakfast, it was a fitting choice.
Leaning back in their chairs, Matt and Cat stared through the glazed doors at the view of Hampshire’s finest maritime city and ruminated. Ryde, a Georgian jewel, has seen its fortunes come and go as its residents have watched the mainland skyline grow into a cityscape. Apart from the omnipresent road traffic this little corner of Ryde has probably changed little in those intervening years. Locals today, as a century ago, want a nice place for a chat, a bit of decent grub and a lovely cuppa. Missy J Cafe is the latest in a sequence of little places to offer that service well – and long may it prevail. Recommended.