At the outer edge of England lies the Isle of Wight; at the Island’s southerly perimeter is Ventnor – and clinging to its shoreline is Seapot. We approached the cafe from the Bonchurch end, pausing to read about how, when Victorian celebrity Tennyson popped into the village, local girls seized his hat and cut it into strips as souvenirs. At the coast was more interpretation: flagged along the concrete revetment were the planets of the solar system. First we encountered the Sun, an orange ball on a stick labelled with some breathtaking facts to help us feel puny and inconsequential. Doesn’t that fiery star know who we are?
As we strolled westwards, we shimmied past Mercury and Venus. We paused for a moment at Earth and admired a Glanville fritillary among the magenta verbena, and it hinged its mosaicked wings at us obligingly.
Mars, next, then the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. “You’re my gas giant.” Cat cooed affectionately at Matt. We read about how Uranus was discovered by a contemporary of Tennyson’s, William Herschel. Thankfully Matt resisted the opportunity to return the planetary-themed compliment. It was quite a few more steps to pass Neptune and Pluto and then we were out of the solar system, freewheeling into space.
Seapot is in the outer reaches, probably in the comparable vicinity of that ridiculous space junk car launched by Elon Musk earlier this year. Coming back down to earth, we realised that the walk had made us both thirsty and hungry. How handy then, that there was a cafe where the toilets had once been.
Seapot fulfilled the three essential criteria for a popular visitor attraction: a brew, a loo and a view. It was also dog-friendly. In fact, at one point we were the only customers without a four-legged friend in tow. The usual doggy chat prevailed, “Yes, he’s a cross between a poodle and a terrier – I wanted a Jack Russell with the corners knocked off.”
Annexing a table at the front of the decking, we studied the menu. As to be expected in such a modest kitchen, the food was mostly of the cold platters and filled butties variety, with a few salads and a couple of specials. However, you could definitely take your restrictive dietary needs there and find something to please you: vegan, pescitarian, flexitarian, reducetarian and full-on sausagetarian satiated by a large bockwurst in a baguette.
Matt wanted a club sandwich and, inspired by his seafood platter of the previous evening, Cat chose Seapot’s fisherman’s board. Stepping over discarded plates left on the stairs presumably by people clearing their own tables, Cat gave their order at the little hatch. There was a counter by the window with a notice suggesting that dirty crocks be left there but, as there was some table service it wasn’t entirely clear whose job it was to tidy up, and an impasse seemed to have been established.
Nonetheless, burdened with a tray containing a large steaming pot of rooibos tea and a bottle of organic Damascene rose fizz, Cat returned to the table and that lovely view out to the English Channel. When comedian Mark Steel was in town, he made a big deal about how some Ventor locals had claimed to have seen France reflected upside down in the sky. Coming from Ryde where we have the Solent, with its shipping, sea forts and Spinnaker Tower to occupy our sea-gazing eyes, the view southwards from Seapot was a tad minimalist – although we did get the opportunity to see the bobbing funeral urn that the people at the adjacent table had thrown into the water.
The club sandwich comprised sliced granary toast, topped with an excellent hot layer of crispy smoked bacon. Underneath, the meat layer was thin pre-cut turkey slices, all held together with little wooden skewers in the traditional style. An accompanying salad was undressed, but the coleslaw by contrast was such a blast of raw onion that Matt, for once, left it unfinished. Overall, the lunch met the criteria for a club sandwich, even if it wasn’t quite the gung-ho juicy meatfest that Matt was hoping for.
Club sandwich £9
Fisherman’s board £12.50
Rooibos tea £2.20
Luscombe fruit drink £2.50
Cat enjoyed the presentation of her fisherman’s board. Although the fish-shaped ramekins looked quite little, they were surprisingly capacious. She smeared the smooth salmon pate onto one of the three rounds of doorstop bread and topped it with a forkful of tasty crab; then anointed the lot with a squeeze of lemon juice. It would seem that fishermen prefer a superior salad to clubbers as there was a good mix of leaves on Cat’s fish-shaped board, including lamb’s lettuce and watercress, all nicely dressed. As she hoovered up the remaining prawns, lubricated with Marie Rose sauce, there was just enough bread to blot the puddle of pink dressing. The perfect lunch for a seaside setting.
Alas the clouds began to gather and we were way too late to have bread and butter pudding. The last portion had been eaten, possibly by the man wearing the knotted hanky – yes, we did actually see one of these improvised hats in operation!
Matt took our platters up to the dish station and then we went on our way, back towards Bonchurch and the model of the Sun. Seapot is a welcome pitstop on the coast defences between Ventnor and Bonchurch, and is understandably a popular venue for walkers – both with and without dogs. We can see why; with a lovely location and nicely-presented food, we’d be happy to recommend it.
This is the full-length version of the review that appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Great sea views
- Seafood specials
- Very dog-friendly
- Service a bit casual