Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
You know those winter Sundays, the ones where, after months of hiding coyly behind grey clouds, the sun decides to play peek-a-boo? In that...

You know those winter Sundays, the ones where, after months of hiding coyly behind grey clouds, the sun decides to play peek-a-boo?

Soup, Watersedge, Gurnard

In that brief moment everyone who has spent the last few months watching old war films and clearing out their cupboards throws on their warmest anorak and runs outside, face turned skywards. On the first sunny Sunday of 2012, the sky was blue and the first flush of daffodils was emerging from the municipal verges. Matt and Cat poked their noses out of their burrow and joined the throngs of promenaders taking the air.

It hardly needs mentioning that Matt and Cat had lunch in mind, and thus their winter walk was a brisk but short one – straight to the door of the Watersedge Café, Gurnard. This seaside perennial stays open throughout the seasons, and has grown up over the years from a glorified ice-cream kiosk to what is now a smart eaterie with more than a hint of the cosmopolitan stripped-pine and pastel shades that characterise lunchtime venues throughout nearby Cowes. If a few jaunty images of boats and seagulls in oversized frames are all that’s needed to complete the formula, Watersedge rises to the occasion there as well.

Squid, Watersedge, Gurnard

Matt and Cat settled at a clean and tidy pine table, and noted with approval a sign which told them to expect waitress service. In fact, the diners began to notice a theme throughout the Watersedge – the management seem to be fond of their signs. A nearby step had a sign on it warning of the drop. The door had a full page of A4 on it explaining the winter opening hours. The toilet had a sign in it instructing how to dispose of paper towels – although, oddly enough there was no sign on the outside of the toilet door, leading unwary visitors to suspect they might be about to enter a broom-cupboard and be obliged to retreat in comic confusion; perhaps with one foot in a mop-bucket.

Although this was a very busy Sunday afternoon, the Watersedge was well-staffed with able waitresses. This was actually more impressive than it sounds, because in such circumstances – sudden sunny Sunday after weeks of dreary weather – many otherwise commendable seaside cafés tend to crumble under the unanticipated pressure. But obviously Watersedge is flexible enough to anticipate its market and have plenty of help on hand when needed. Thus, after Matt and Cat had spent a few moments looking at the menu, a smart young lady arrived, ready to take their order. And no more than a minute later, she returned with the drinks – water for Cat, and a pot of tea for Matt, which came with a big jug of milk, and enough tea for three and a half cups. All very efficient.

Similarly, the kitchen was turning stuff out rapidly, so there wasn’t an overlong wait for the food. Cat’s soup of the day was French onion. Three little cheesy croutons bobbed on its surface, retaining the soup’s heat; alongside were also a couple of hunks of warmed baguette with butter. The soup was tasty, thick and seasoned – it didn’t claim to be homemade, and probably wasn’t, but was none the worse for it.

Matt & Cat’s bill
Soup of the day £4.95
Fried squid £8.95
Pot of tea for 1 £2.00
Tap water (free)
Total: £15.90

Matt had been swayed by a more unusual item on the menu: lightly-battered squid. He remembered the exquisite lemony fried squid that they’d been served at Elliot’s, in London’s Borough Market, which for both Matt and Cat had been one of those great culinary experiences that you don’t forget. Could the Watersedge measure up to that?

Matt’s lunch looked promising – a big bowl of piping-hot squid pieces in batter, served with a generous side-salad, two lemon segments and not only tartare sauce but also mayonnaise and coleslaw. He was delighted to find that the salad came without raw onion, and, equally pleasing, it wasn’t buoyed up with a raft of dismal iceberg lettuce but featured a generous handful of fresh leaves, baby plum tomatoes and a dash of dressing. Definitely an above-average salad. Once the squid had cooled enough to be eaten Matt found it pretty good too. Although lightly-battered was clearly a euphemism for ‘coated in a thick layer of batter’, it was tasty: moist but not greasy, with distinct hints of the promised salt-and-pepper seasoning. Rather like a high-class version of the classic deep-fried scampi, the squid pieces had a soft and slightly rubbery texture, and a mild taste which was given necessary depth by the fresh lemon and tartare.

Matt and Cat were pleased by their lunch – the Watersedge is a café which is well worth seeking out. By comparison with other seaside venues at say, Ventnor or Sandown, the Watersedge prices may perhaps reflect the proximity of well-heeled residents of Gurnard and the lack of competition in the area. Nonetheless, the quality of food and very efficient service were above par. If you want to lunch well in the seaside café style, the Watersedge is recommended.


  • patrick says:

    Sadly it looks like this ambiguously-named venue is finished in its present form. A notice has appeared on the door thanking customers and informing them of impending closure. However, a new cafe looks set to emerge from the ashes, so all may not be lost…!

  • da yw wyth says:

    A superb vantage-point and a great place to entertain mainland visitors. There’s always something of interest, and it’s equally appealing and comfortable for people of all ages. Notable for its spectacular views of rapidly-changing weather systems, and all manor of interesting water-craft, today saw a Yorkshire terrier hitching a ride on some kind of paddle-operated thingy.

    There’s a good atmosphere here, with all food choices presented immaculately. Standard fare to a degree, but each one comes with top quality produce, and with some kind of special twist. Soft drinks are available, and a range of tea varieties.

    Excellent value for what it offers, it must be a firm favourite.

  • Simon Marsh says:

    I went there with my wife and two children and we had 2 very good lattes with the children both eating home made cakes with fruit juice. The bill was circa £10.00 which for the quality of food was reasonable.

  • Tracey S says:

    Fantastic food! Fantastic service and worth every penny!!

  • MsFoxglove says:

    I have visited the Watersedge many times and love it. Food is always fresh and good quality and it is clean and friendly. Very highly recommended. Slightly disappointed that they have recently increased their prices (2012) and therefore I no longer pop in as regularly, as it is now quite expensive.

  • By far the best breakfast on the island … And yes, Gurnard is exclusive … So what?

  • MrsR1ck says:

    One of our favourite spots on the Island, cream teas are massive, fresh and at only a fiver, great value for money… Also extremely child friendly, we often take our 3 year old for a play in the pirate park on Gurnard Green. The waiting staff always warmly welcome us and Molly and usually provide her with a “babycino” complete with mini marshmallows 🙂

    Another delight is in the summer, they will let you go and find a spot on the nearby green and bring you your food picnic style

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