The Seaview Hotel has been one of our top recommendations for year-round quality dining for many years. And it’s not just us – the hotel has two AA rosettes for food and was this year awarded the keenly contested IW Chamber of Commerce hospitality business of the year award. So when the hotel and head chef Mark Wyatt invited us to try some of the new dishes that were launched this week with the new summer menu, you bet we were up for it. We were impressed by what we found – even the unexpected return of an Isle of Wight classic. Read on to see what it was.
The new menu has all your old favourites on it – yes, that famous crab ramekin – but plenty of new features too. There is, as usual, a strong seafood emphasis, with local ingredients being used to their very best.
We started with a trio of small plates which can be starters, or part of a lighter main course. Our waitress was excited to see what we made of the soya mince spring roll. This came with noodles, Asian slaw and sesame seaweed, and she claimed it was so good that it could fool someone into thinking it was actual mince. We scoffed, but then when we’d scoffed the food, we had to agree. This is, without a doubt, a very convincing and hearty plant-based spring roll.
Then onto the seafood – we appreciated a few cute little cajun-spiced calamari rings, but then the most spectacular-looking dish of the evening came into view, the unusual beetroot and Mermaid gin cured salmon. This striking visual presentation was also an inspired combo of flavours, with the rich, smooth salmon gravadlax set off by a tangy horseradish emulsion.
We were then introduced to The Seaview Flatbread – a perfect sharer between courses, or a decent light meal all of its own. The home-made flatbread was served hot, and comes with a variety of toppings. Ours was covered with chilli and chorizo crab, smoked salmon, anchovy and spinach. It was a bit like all the best bits of a pizza, for when you fancy something that isn’t a massive greasy cheesedump.
Mains were next, and the arrival of an old favourite caused excitement on our table. Loyal readers will be familiar with our conviction that the Island’s national dish is – or should be – crab on chips. This classic, using local produce, can be served from a van on the seafront or, as we discovered at the Seaview, at an award-winning restaurant. Mark Wyatt’s take on this local dish, called, controversially, “crab over fries”, involved some additions to the simple formula which caused us some trepidation. Would this be a compromise too far? Happily not. Creamy, fresh local crab was augmented with subtler hints of chorizo and chilli to give it rich smokiness and bite that were enhancements without overwhelming the shellfish. This one we fought over – nobody was going to send back a morsel of that moreish crab.
A big, hearty main that Matt particularly loved was the crispy pork belly on stir fry noodles with Asian vegetables. The meat fell apart under the fork, with the crackling perfectly crispy but not too resistant to the teeth. The charred pak choi was infused with a great smoky flavour, and the sticky sesame glaze just felt satisfyingly decadent.
We also had another visual treat in the seared tuna Niçoise with anchovy fillets. Fresh tuna steak was sliced and served on a really great salade Niçoise – including a poached egg on the side. The tuna was good but the salad really was the stand-out on this plate.
We needed a bit of a pause before we tackled dessert courses, after so much good food. But it was a tribute to these afters that none of it was sent back uneaten. Cheesecake of the day was a delightful mixed-berry and white chocolate concoction which came with a little scoop of raspberry sorbet that had us both transported back to some childhood confectionery half-memory that we couldn’t quite place. We even asked chef Mark himself if it was based on any retro-candy experience, but if so, he wasn’t admitting it.
Finally, we dug our spoons into the hot chocolate fondant, allowing the gooey dark chocolate delight to roll out in all its splendour. A generous swirl of white chocolate ganache, and a portion of ice cream with those tasty white chocolate crumbs throughout, this was a bold and hearty dessert.
Strolling down Seaview High Street to finish off our meal with a bit of sea air, the charming location of the hotel added to the enjoyment of our evening. Looking out over the bobbing yachts on their moorings towards the distant lights of Portsmouth is a pleasure that generations of Seaview residents – temporary and permanent – have enjoyed. The Seaview Hotel has maintained its excellent reputation for a long time, and on the basis of the new summer menu we would say that the food offering is well worth a trip to Seaview.
We were the guests of The Seaview Hotel