Stripped is, and long has been, one of our favourite places to eat, ever. It has been years since we first stepped into the former Midland Bank in Ventnor and enjoyed what was, and remains, the Island’s best burger. When it was trading from a mobile van we pursued it round the island to get the Stripped experience. And yet it is a struggle to summarise in words exactly how this place draws us back again and again. Nonetheless, as to do so is literally the purpose of this column it seems as though we’re going to give it another shot.
Stripped takes its name from the stripped-back menu and decor. The bill of fare is short, and this is a virtue. Every single thing on offer is worth eating, and we should know. That said, the burgers are the main attraction. Big, juicy, tasty burgers in perfect buns; these are the kind of burgers that permeate dreams. There’s even a plant burger – yes, you can eat fully plant-based at Stripped and still have a splendid burger experience.
We started our evening sat at the tiny bar sipping cocktails with the chatty regulars. In front of us in the lively open kitchen the chef was busy banging out the orders for other diners or takeaways. At the table – where we can recommend the comfy new plush banquette seating – the food started coming. Obviously we had fried pickles, known as ‘frickles’. This extraordinary side dish is, as far as we know, unique to Stripped on the island. So when you go there, get your portions of tangy dill pickle coated in a light tempura batter, dressed with lashings of honey and sriracha sauce – this we cannot recommend highly enough. There’s also a ‘secret’ menu with a special burger – but you’ve got to ask. Tonight’s was smashburger with crispy pancetta, double cheese and smoky BBQ sauce made an extra messy treat, with the sweet sauce and rashers perfectly setting off classic beef patties. Our canny waitress brought extra napkins without a word – they were not wasted.
The Stripped menu is sometimes gnomic to the point of opacity, and the two items called simply “Hummus and flatbread” and “Salad” are examples of this. In contrast to their curt descriptions both were beautifully-presented small plates that together made up a splendid main course burger alternative. They came with warm slices of fresh-toasted focaccia, and the hummus was decorated by a delightful cornucopia of garnishes: sun-dried tomatoes; radish slivers; olives and peppers. The salad itself was worthy of being elevated to a main course: a substantial portion, with rich, pink watermelon chunks; tart black olives; fresh tomatoes and an aromatic sprig of basil.
Hummus and flatbread £6
Special burger £10
Fusion fries £6
Loaded brownie 2 @ £6, £12
For dessert there was one choice: chocolate brownie. As this is Stripped, you take what you’re offered and you know it will be worthy. We gorged on our soft, gooey slugs of chocolaty goodness, topped with soft rich ice cream, crumbs of granola and a generous slathering of sweet toffee sauce.
We finished our wine (the choice was ‘good’ wine or ‘better’ wine – certainly worth the scenic bus trip to ensure we both enjoyed a glass), bid farewell to our cheerful hosts and went back out into the chilly Ventnor night. Stripped has changed in many ways over the years, but is still reliably excellent. Having the Ventnor venue reopened for dining-in is a great addition to the Island’s food offering. We went there knowing for sure we would have high quality and interesting food, top service and good value for money – and Stripped delivered.
Stripped, 2 High Street, Ventnor PO38 1RY
This is the full-length version of the review first published in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Still one of our favourite places to eat
- Imaginative side dishes
- Those burgers though!