Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
The north east Wight has a handful of eateries with a notable sea view; from Baywatch on the Beach you can enjoy a panorama...

The north east Wight has a handful of eateries with a notable sea view; from Baywatch on the Beach you can enjoy a panorama which includes the iconic St Helens Fort; or if you get a shore-side seat outside the Old Fort in Seaview you can watch the busy maritime traffic in the Solent. Other venues – such as the magnificent Spitbank Fort and slightly less grand Costa Coffee at the end of Ryde Pier – can boast a view of the sea pretty much on all sides. A table on the balcony at Three Buoys, in Ryde’s Appley Park, gives dinner a memorable backdrop as the orange light of the sinking sun is reflected off the extensive beach. The activities of ships and yachts add interest, and the twinkling lights of Portsmouth are far enough away to look almost enticing.

Three Buoys, Appley: calamari

The restaurant at Appley has had a number of previous incarnations and it’s not hard to see why. The awesome views aside, Three Buoys is a first-floor restaurant above a separate café, which must sometimes make it hard for potential patrons to spot that there might be more than ice cream and beachballs available at Appley these days. Also, delightful though Appley Park is, it is very much a seasonal location, and when the weather closes in there is little passing trade. What all this means is that it has to be an exceptional offering indeed up those stairs to draw in enough regular diners to make a sustainable business. Three Buoys thinks it has what it takes. So does it? You know what happens next.

Considerate and clever, it was a touch that seemed typical of Three Buoys
Three Buoys, Appley: battered halloumi

As the record-breakingly harsh winter of 2013 came to to an end Matt and Cat took the chance to promenade through Appley Park, with dinner never far from their minds. After a perusal of Three Buoys tantalising menu, Matt and Cat climbed the staircase to find a busy dining room with folk already enjoying the terrace. The new arrivals were politely greeted, and after some vacillation decided to sit inside within sight of the open terrace doors.

Matt and Cat’s bill
Calamari starter £6
Sea bass fillet £16
Halloumi £10
Pannacotta £6
Torte £6
Coffee x 1 £1.90
Bellini £6.50
Baileys £3
Estrella x 2 £7.60
Total £63.00

A menu of summery seaside food was presented – plenty of sharing platters, pasta, seafood and salads. There were no specials on offer but the chatty waiter gave a good talk through the options, and explained unprompted that the seabass that day was local. It may have been his eloquence, the sea air, or maybe the unaccustomed sun; but it was a surprise to everyone when Cat ordered a Bellini cocktail. Matt, in similarly expansive mood, ordered a pint of chilled Estrella Damm. Normally he is an ale drinker, but there’s something about a walk in the sun – however brief – that must engender an atavistic urge in Englishmen to sip ice-cold lager. After picking over some complimentary olives, Matt and Cat ordered a starter to share: calamari with red pepper aioli. This was a delicate dish, the squid rings perfectly cooked in the slightest batter, meltingly soft and with their subtle taste only enhanced by the gentle aioli sauce; so often an unwelcome and unsubtle blast of garlic – but not so here.

Three Buoys, Appley: sea bass

Main course was a hard one to decide for both diners as the choices were good ones. Cat considered Asian battered sea trout with sesame salted chips, or smoked garlic chicken breast with risotto primavera. But in the end her choice was that local sea bass fillet, served with baby leeks, new potato and spinach gratin, and tomato butter featuring tomatoes smoked by the chef herself. The soft fillet languished on the gratin, which was a deliciously creamy mixture of vegetables and mascarpone. As well as being luscious, the dinner was nicely-presented with a pleasing chorus of dainty vegetables serenading the fish.

Just as Cat’s fruity cocktail was a deviation from her normal behaviour, Matt found himself drawn irresistibly towards one of the vegetarian options. As deep-frying and cheese feature heavily in the big man’s diet he didn’t stray too far off the path though, opting for battered halloumi with tarragon mashed peas, fries and tartare sauce. To his entertainment this came out served in the style of fish and chips – with the chunks of battered halloumi cheese taking the part of the fish. It all worked rather well; even if the fries were of the modest, stringy variety rather than chunky chip-shop sort. The smooth cheese itself was excellent, and the tarragon mashed peas were a tasty addition that wittily referenced the traditional fried fish accompaniment without giving Matt the distressing task of actually eating mushy peas.

Throughout their dinner Matt and Cat were scrutinised by the couple at the adjacent table who had seen them taking photographs and had obviously found this more entertaining than each others’ company. M&C enjoyed the intimate dining experience, and many others were doing so too. There was a party of young women celebrating a birthday – which was proclaimed by bobbing helium balloons tied to their chairs. There were holidaymakers chattering away about their days’ adventures, and locals who had popped in for a drink. The place was running smoothly and all seemed content.

Matt and Cat were putty in the hands of their waiter, who effortlessly guided his charges to choose dessert. Cat was never going to refuse chocolate and salted caramel torte; whereas Matt took a lighter option with vanilla pannacotta and peaches poached in Chambord. Both desserts were excellent. The torte was superbly rich and moussey, punctuated with the salty hit and shreds of zingy orange peel. Matt particularly enjoyed the lightly-poached peach alongside the traditional pannacotta mound. Both dishes were decorated with delightfully aromatic rosemary flowers, gathered from the nearby park in a bit of true Noma-inspired foraging. It transpired that the chef also had experience working at the nearby Priory Bay Hotel, currently the focus of some particularly hyper-local culinary alchemy.

Three Buoys, Appley: chocolate and salted caramel torte

Cat finished her meal with Baileys on ice, whilst Matt sipped a decent coffee from a substantial machine which was purring away in the corner. The price of the meal wasn’t the cheapest, but if Three Buoys can keep up these standards, it will remain value for money. Taking their drinks, Matt and Cat took a stroll out onto the terrace to see the last glimmers of the evening sun. The balcony tables were lit by candles, and Cat was delighted to find that each table had a big soft blanket to hand for the ladies to drape over their knees. Considerate and clever, it was a touch that seemed typical of Three Buoys. This new restaurant really is trying hard to make itself a place worth visiting, and for food, service, style and character, Matt and Cat would say it has succeeded. It is recommended.

  • Stuart and Kathryn says:

    Having made our annual return to the island, I felt the need to update on last year’s review. We have had a fabulous meal at the Three Buoys this year – the food as inventive and high quality as ever, and now with portion sizes that leave you well fed. I can’t speak highly enough of the Moroccan lamb starter, Asian duck salad main course and basil pannacotta pudding. The staff were, as ever, delightful. There were six in our party and no-one had a bad word to say about anything.

  • Stuart and Kathryn says:

    We first went to the Three Buoys in 2014 (see the review below!) and have been back every year since, generally twice per holiday. This year’s visit was the first time we’ve come away disappointed. The food was good quality, and very Instagram friendly, but the prices have gone up and the portions down. I’m less bothered about price (good food justifies the cost) but there’s no excuse for plates so small that you are scared to have a satisfying mouthful because it would consume a quarter of the dish. It was reminiscent of the oft-maligned nouvelle cuisine movement in the 80’s. Fingers crossed it’s just a phase and they get back to combining excellent, imaginative food with decent portions that don’t leave you hungry!

  • da yw wyth says:

    Lovely place, welcoming staff with excellent customer service skills. Worth noting that teas and coffees are served until well after 4.00 p.m at weekends. (not that the staff at the unconnected business downstairs will mention this whilst closing at 3.40!)I really can’t wait to have a meal here – it has such a good vibe to it, as well as an exceptional view!

  • Loren and Jim says:

    Had a lovely lunch here yesterday. Excellent service, fantastic views and very tasty food. What more could you ask for Will be returning again soon!

    • Stuart and Kathryn says:

      Having made our annual return to the island, I felt the need to update on last year’s review. We have had a fabulous meal at the Three Buoys this year – the food as inventive and high quality as ever, and now with portion sizes that leave you well fed. I can’t speak highly enough of the Moroccan lamb starter, Asian duck salad main course and basil pannacotta pudding. The staff were, as ever, delightful. There were six in our party and no-one had a bad word to say about anything.

  • Keren Micklewright-Ford says:

    Came in for our 2nd anniversary, and wow!! Great service with a lovely welcome, and despite my sister being a head chef, it was quite simply the best meal ive ever eaten! Will be coming back for sure, and highly recommending to all 🙂

  • Stuart and Kathryn says:

    We’ve sadly come to the end of a week long visit to the beautiful Isle and visited the Three Buoys twice. On both occasions, we’ve found the staff to be courteous and friendly – making our two girls (7 and 4) very welcome. The food is excellent – great to see a children’s menu that offers “mighty mussels” as an option – one that was taken and heartily enjoyed by both children. We ate from the specials board on both visits, eating well judged dishes of locally caught hake and sole. So glad to have come across the restaurant (and fortunate that the Saturday Park Run has been temporarily relocated to Appley park) – thanks for the review; we wouldn’t have known it existed if you hadn’t written it.

  • Sean says:

    Had lunch on Saturday, just wow, loved the food and service and amazing views. very attentive staff to wifes gluten free diet, well done and thankyou.

    Highlight were the sausage on lentils, stunning dish!

    Will return for sure.

  • Alex says:

    A stunning lunch cheered up a grey and rainy Saturday! I had the meat tasting plate, special mention goes to the croquettes, bean dip and the onion rings. A light and crispy batter encased the succulent onion – I could have eaten a bucket load.

    The staff are attentive and genuinely friendly which certainly helped to make my lunch such a pleasurable occasion.

    I eat out a lot, both on the Island and the mainland and I enjoyed that meal more than any others I have had recently. This really is the place to go!

  • David Smith says:

    What a great place I saw this on Matt and Cat and decided to try it when i came over for my hols this year.The food was out of this world I had the crab cakes starter and the cod loin on three bean fricassee it was absolutely delicious.

  • Looby and Toad says:

    We ate here for the first time last night. Quite simply lovely, portion size not huge so if you like meals that over hang the plate this is not the place for you, but for us, it was perfect.
    Starters- mackerel pate and feta and spinach croquettes subtle yet tasty, Main- Asian Sea Trout and Sea- bass and Dessert- chocolate and caramel torte( normally we can only manage one course)Service attentive but not over the top. Our only negative comment and its nothing to do with the food was the number of dead moths and flies on the window sill, I would suggest before each service a very quick wipe( given where they are located I am not surprised by the wildlife).We really wish them all the best with this venture and we will certainly recommend to friends and family and be back our selves.

  • Daniella says:

    My partner and I ate in here when it first opened and were so impressed that I chose to take my visiting brother there for his 30th birthday treat. This place is fabulous and a real experience. I was so impressed with the salted chocolate and caramel torte that I took leave of my usual polite demeanour when asked by the owner what I thought of it and I replied, without thinking, that it was so addictive it was as though it had been sprinkled with crack! Oops, my bad! Seriously though, everything from the service to the food to the location, is really hard to beat. I will be back!

  • Graham - Ryde says:

    Can someone help me with a ‘phone number for this place please?
    Further to my earlier post, the people there haven’t got back to me following 3 emails.
    Should I bother?

    M&C respond: We find that good email and website netiquette is not necessarily a sign of a good restaurant, and vice versa. So yes, persist. On their website we see 01983 811212 listed. Have you tried that?

  • Graham - Ryde says:

    Good to see on our walks that the restaurant is busy. The review and the menu are obviously working.
    We thought we should try for ourselves and emailed them about a reservation (through the contact form on their webpage) No reply to that so tried the direct email address – and still no reply. So it looks like we will need to ‘phone or call in next time we pass.
    Just letting others know if case the contact problem persists.

  • Sarah Greeff says:

    Sent my Swiss B&B guests to eat at Three Buoys off the back of your review as they said they wanted Fish & Chips! They walked from Binstead and loved it… excellent food, service and views. Thank you.

  • Dawn & Howard says:

    Fantastic food, excellent service, great atmosphere and an amazing view over the Solent. We will definitely be going back!

  • Tim b says:

    Spot on review. Went last night, couln’t fault the place. Shared a seafood platter as a starter, really good, then had the halloumi which was ace. Nice reasonably priced wine list. Top notch!!

  • Loren and Jim says:

    Great place with fantastic views over looking the solent, just right for a summer supper.
    Food was delicious and looking forward to returning!

  • Helen Arkless says:

    A very bright and airy restaurant…..With a very relaxed welcoming feel to it.
    I went for the first time a few weeks ago with a friend.
    I had the beef and feta meatballs….. Very tasty especially the tzatziki. My friend had the calamari red pepper aioli. A very tasty meal all round.
    I will be back….. To try the chocolate and salted caramel torte!!!
    I wish Tim and Emma all the best!

  • Sue Allan says:

    We’ve been for breakfast/brunch a couple of times now. Lovely veggie option: muffins, topped with tomato, spinach and poached eggs. Waiting for the weather to improve a bit (?!) so we can have supper on the balcony. I’ve known Tim for over 10 years, a great hard-working guy, deserves to do well here.

  • Rosie Saxcoburg says:

    Have you ever thought about reviewing the Three Buoys in Ryde? The menu looks incredible and quite good value, but don’t like eating places without at least a M&C seal of approval!!

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