Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
The Pearl Café, Brighstone The Pearl Café, Brighstone
The Pearl Café, Brighstone

It’s remarkable that Isle of Wight Pearl became the successful and popular attraction that it is. Who first had the idea that you could take over an abandoned holiday camp and sell pearls there? And why pearls? It’s not as though we have any sort of pearl industry on the Isle of Wight. Or a reputation for fine jewellery, or even eating oysters. And yet this slightly ramshackle collection of buildings manages not only to be a thriving tourist haunt but also a venue that locals love to visit – yes, even us. You see, the thing that draws us back there all year around is not the chance to glimpse Lady Di’s pearl-encrusted frock; nor even the acres of pearly wares on offer. It is the Pearl Cafe – and what a gem it is.

Typically a visitor attraction cafe is a woeful thing – having paid to get in, visitors are stuck inside and obliged to pay over the odds for substandard food – or suffer the interminable whining of their hungry offspring. None of this applies to The Pearl Cafe. It’s free to get in and the food – well, the food is anything but substandard.

The cafe has an impressive new deli section with some great-looking filled rolls and salads, but it is still very much a cafe too, and the winter special is where it’s at. Homemade hot Isle of Wight beef stew and dumpling can’t be argued with. Whilst ordering, without enquiring, we were told which farm the beef was from, and the prominently displayed list of local suppliers was indicated. The top-quality stew was stuffed with good, rich beef chunks that fell apart in the mouth. Mushrooms and carrots were involved, but this was all about the meat and that classic suet dumpling on top. We know what they say, but don’t be scared of suet, children. It is a step everyone should be willing to take if they at any point consider a beef stew.

Matt and Cat’s Bill
Stew and dumpling: £12
Soup: £7
TOTAL: £19

Soup of the day was no less rewarding. Carrot, leek and onion sounds workaday but this was far from it. A rich, golden broth came with some splendid fresh sourdough baguette slices alongside. This was all so good that we had to ask what the secret was. Our cheery waitress went to enquire of the chef, who rightly would not be drawn and gnomically added that it was “made from the heart”. We did discover that it wasn’t just the addition of a lot of butter – as all the soups at The Pearl Cafe are entirely plant-based.

We haven’t even mentioned the view yet. The vista of the English Channel from this cafe is sublime – arguably one of the best sea views on the Island or indeed much of the country. We were lucky enough to see the weak sun sinking in a cloudy sky and, as we pondered the exquisite soup, we could see rainstorms lit from behind by the god-rays. In the summer you can sit out on the lawn and enjoy the sun and some decent cream tea – in the winter the cosy interior benefits from its panoramic windows.

But let’s save the best until last. The top reason to come to The Pearl Cafe is the service. This has been the case every time we’ve visited – in high season or midwinter, the cheerful and informative staff are a delight. This, we have no doubt, is the true reason for the success of The Pearl Cafe and the whole of Isle of Wight Pearl – it’s a venue that knows how to make everyone feel truly welcome.

Isle of Wight Pearl
01983 740 352

The top reason to come to The Pearl Cafe is the service. This has been the case every time we’ve visited.
  • Outstanding views
  • Open all year
  • Great service
  • patrick says:

    It’s really useful to know this is not such a naff destination as most people on the Island would assume! A pity though, that soup is being served in a dish of that shape – it invitably takes ages to cool down…

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