Ventnor, once a town of genteel, nay rapid, decay, is now on the up. Its crumbling shops have had their fronts tarted up and are now home to interesting businesses such as vintage fabric emporium Suzes Room, and Sophie Honeybourne’s new handmade jewellery shop along with cafes sprouting faster than Matt and Cat can review them.
As well as its improving status as a haven of hippies, yuppies and, with the creation of the harbour, yachties, Ventnor is just a nice place to be. Particularly on a very sunny spring Saturday, as Cat found out. Having once again built up an appetite chasing basking wall lizards, she found herself at Tides Cafe on Ventnor’s esplanade with a couple of pals.
Despite the continental-style pavement seating to match the continental weather, Cat and her friends opted to sit inside lest they should burn in the fierce heat of the day. The cool interior of the cafe had two contrasting aspects: its Bauhaus-a-like seating, neat tables and wooden floor; and on the other side of the counter, the four-star hygiene rated kitchen. The activity in the kitchen was in full view of the customers in the cafe – not a bad idea.
As well as the regular items there was also a specials board. It didn’t take Cat long to make her choice: mozzarella, tomato and basil panini. There were plenty of other light meals to choose from including Greek salad (a mix of the usual salad ingredients plus feta cheese and olives). One of Cat’s friends had his favourite homemade cheese scones, and the other declared her tuna mayonnaise toasty to be the perfect balance of tuna and mayonnaise.
The meals (apart from the scone) came with a perky side salad. Amongst standard favourites such as lettuce and cucumber were the more unexpected sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Lightly covered in a vinaigrette dressing, the salad was a delicious accompaniment to the meals. The best bit was the price; Cat’s panini, with its generous helping of cheese, a fragment of tomato and fragrant fresh basil leaves was a mere £4.
The cafe is in a perfect spot, with its south-facing aspect and sea views. By the time Cat and her mates left, the cafe was full and doing a roaring trade with ice creams too. Stroll along the prom, have a sun-dried tomato and olives in your salad and it’s not hard to imagine yourself in a Mediterranean resort. And you may even see a lizard.