This is an archive review. Oceanblue Quay has changed hands and changed name.
After giving it a while to find its feet Matt and Cat finally toddled through the doors of Oceanblue Quay, the new restaurant at Ventnor esplanade, as bone fide customers.
Although in an enviable position at the newly remodelled Ventnor Esplanade, the venue is small, and despite its location does not have much of a sea view. Set in part of the adjacent boat factory, the restaurant overlooks the nearby paddling pool and the haven with its prominent fish processing plant. Despite this potentially industrial landscape the big picture windows do not seem out of place, and the Oceanblue Quay seems civilised, clean and tidy – certainly eminently suitable for a stylish seafront eating-place.
Entering the empty venue on a chilly evening, Matt and Cat had their pick of seats. They chose a table in a corner and took a look at the menu. A comprehensive broadsheet with a Mediterranean slant was complemented by a prodigious list of specials on the board. Both had plenty of impressive vegetarian options: wild mushroom and reblicon omlette with truffle, anyone? A snip at £6.25. And what is a reblicon anyway? Matt and Cat didn’t know but it certainly sounded tasty (they later found out it’s cheese – of which more later).
Both diners, despite the lure of the specials, decided to stay on the regular menu. Cat picked sunblushed tomato chicken penne with grilled artichoke from the ‘pasta and risotto’ section. Matt went for oven baked tartiflette without even asking what tartiflette was. It came with cheese and bacon, so what more needed to be said? He did however, ask whether either the penne or the tartiflette came with vegetables – and it turned out that they didn’t. So there was then the decision as to whether to order extra veg – as M & C are both partial to a bit of greenery with their food, and side orders were clearly on the menu. So to be on the safe side they ordered a bowl of roasted root vegetables between them.
A civilised pause then ensured, during which M & C tried to out-stare their own reflections in the big windows whilst the deck-shoed classes of Ventnor gradually filled up the little restaurant. Soon enough the meals arrived, both splendidly piping-hot and in very generous portions. Matt and Cat would’ve preferred a bit of portion constraint and free vegetables. As it was the bowl of roasted veg was delicious but there ended up being a lot of food on their table.
Matt’s tartiflette was a big, ceramic bowl full of the promised bacon, sliced potato and Reblochon cheese – ah, that must be what the specials board meant by ‘reblicon’. Little did Matt know it, but this was the closest to après-ski that he’d ever come. Wikipedia helpfully, if slightly disapprovingly, reports of tartiflette:
It is not a traditional dish… and was, in fact, invented and launched only in the 1980s by the Reblochon trade union in an attempt to increase sales of the cheese…
All recipes have potatoes, cheese, and some kind of meat such as bacon. It is extremely popular at mountain restaurants during the ski season since it is savoury, high in calories and relatively easy to cook and keep warm for an hour or more without deterioration in quality.
Certainly, if it had been snowing in Ventnor, and M&C had been obliged to ski down Zig-zag road and Shore Hill, they’d have been grateful for this warming repast as they stomped the snow from the crampons and polished their sunglasses, or whatever it is you have to do after you’ve been skiing. As it is, skiing snow is as likely to fall in Ventnor as it is on the moon, so it’s no surprise to report that Matt just ate the tartiflette in blissful ignorance of any winter sports connection. And blissful it was: this was a really good dish, simple and hearty. Matt thought it was great.
Chicken penne £10.95
Roasted vegetables £3.00
2 x coffee £3.80
1 x Peroni £2.90
Cat’s penne was another big and wholesome dish, which tasted splendid. Big chunks of pan-fried chicken breast topped a traditional pasta and sauce combo which was enlivened with grilled artichoke and olives. Cat nibbled on the chicken and penne, leavening it with some of the lovely roasted veg, and eventually declared herself defeated, handing the remainder to her dining partner who managed to make a fair impression upon it. Not for the first time Matt and Cat had a casual discussion about the meaning of the term ‘pan-fried’. It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But one has to wonder what else you’d fry something with. On a shovel, maybe?
Still, after all that you’d have thought they’d decline a dessert. But no. A delightful vanilla panna cotta accompanied coffees, and was served with sugar-glazed fresh figs.
Oceanblue Quay certainly lived up to the promise of its enjoyable launch day. The food really is good, the surprisingly comprehensive menu original and well-considered. Matt and Cat had a splendid meal, in very relaxing surroundings. This new venue is smart and clean, but also feels comfortable and welcoming. The service was good, and the prices were far from the most expensive in town. Oceanblue Quay is recommended.
Preview of Oceanblue Quay, July 2009
As regular readers to Matt and Cat’s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide will know, M and C like nothing more than poking their noses into a new eatery. They’ve far from exhausted the Island’s existing expansive selection of restaurants, cafés and pubs; and keep their ears and eyes open for the new ones to add to the bottomless list.
Despite having a few chums in the industry, Matt and Cat aren’t usually at the opening nights. Perhaps their anonymity precludes them from being on anyone’s guest list? However, this year they finally managed to wangle a ticket to a restaurant’s launch. So it was that at the end of June, Matt unbuttoned his work shirt and Cat smoothed down her hair with a drop of spittle ready for a night of schmoosing and free champagne at the Oceanblue Quay, Ventnor. Read on to see what they found – this bit isn’t a review, by the way, that is further up the page.
The Oceanblue Quay has sprouted up as part of the regeneration of Ventnor’s esplanade. Thousands of council pounds and plenty of private money has been invested in the new ecoloos, renovated paddling pool and seating area plus the industrial units of Cheetah Marine. There has been a bit of local dissent but, judging from the turnout at the café’s opening, also plenty of support for this new venture.
An eclectic mixture of local folk swirled round the swish new venue. The bar was doing a roaring trade – one free champagne cocktail each; and then if you wanted to you could buy some more. Outside a big pan of paella was being manhandled into position by two friendly chaps, who soon proceeded to dole out a complimentary spoonful of the delicious steaming seafood standard to visitors. If this were a food review, Matt would have praised the paella highly, remarking on the lemons and huge langoustines. Cat, who could be chased out of a shoeshop by the merest hint of calamari, by contrast would have turned up her pert little nose and primly passed her plate to Matt to wolf down its maritime cargo. But it’s not a food review. So all that will have to wait.
It certainly is a great venue. Matt couldn’t help but admire the splendid Cascade bridge and waterfall, whilst Cat was drawn to the impressive interpretation board outside the gleaming new eco-loos. And Oceanblue Quay fits into the new area well. It does seem to be a good venture by local delicatessen proprietors Goodmans. Of course, the proof of it will be in the eating. M & C gave them a while to settle in, then descended. The full review is above.
Phone number of new restaurant: 857444