The Isle of Wight food scene has exploded in recent years - you’re rarely more than 10 minutes from somewhere selling fabulous food and because it’s just 22 minutes away, your next tasty moment is closer than you think.
There’s something special about stepping on board a Wightlink ferry from Portsmouth – be it on foot or with your car – as it signals the start of your Isle of Wight adventure.
On board Wightlink’s car ferries you’ll find Wight Taste shops and cafes to whet your appetite. They feature everything from breakfast pastries and coffee roasted on the Island to craft beer and fruity chutneys.
Then when you reach the Island, you can enjoy the perfect autumn foodie break or gourmet day out. Visit wightlink.co.uk/food for more inspiration.
Here are 10 fantastic foodie experiences on the Island:
Gourmet cycling tour – the Seaview Hotel, a classic coastal hotel in a picturesque seaside village, is a proud possessor of a Bib Gourmand and 2 AA Rosettes. Now they’re offering a new E-Cycling Gourmand short break, so you can combine your love of food with the great outdoors. You’ll stay at this gorgeous hotel for two nights, enjoy two days of e-bike hire, dinner every night at their modern British restaurant, breakfast every morning and a self-guided GPS bike tour with lunch at a gourmet rest stop.
Robert Thompson – Robert was the youngest UK chef to be awarded a Michelin Star and one of the key figures in making the Isle of Wight a foodie destination. Don’t miss his contemporary British restaurant in Newport – Thompson’s – where you’ll find regularly-changing seasonal menus, tasting menus with matching wine flights and cook school classes. Heading west? Then make time to visit The George Hotel in Yarmouth where Robert has recently returned to the role of Executive Chef. Bang on the beach, the 17th century George is tucked between a castle and a little pier and offers a restaurant and beach bar, both of which serve local produce.
A royal afternoon tea – the Michelin Guide has recommended The Royal in Ventnor every year since 1911. Its dining room can be relied upon for exquisite dishes, but why not treat yourself to a Royal afternoon tea; an extravaganza of delectable finger sandwiches, warm scones and miniature pastries and cakes? Afternoon tea can be enjoyed in the stylish Brasserie, Colonial-style conservatory, or the relaxed Hambrough Bar. In warmer weather, enjoy dining in the south-facing garden or Geranium Terrace, overlooking the outdoor pool.
Foraging – Islander Paul Noakes has been foraging on the Isle of Wight for the past seven years. From finding razor clams, cockle collecting and identifying edible seaweeds to foraging for wild garlic and elderflowers, Paul can help you experience a foodie afternoon to remember. Join one of his regular walks to discover wild plants, shellfish and seaweed – there’s no better way to taste nature’s harvest than when you’ve foraged it yourself.
Liquid delights – drink-wise you’ll definitely want to sample The Isle of Wight Distillery’s liquid fare – particularly Mermaid Gin, a smooth, elegant and complex gin made with locally-foraged rock samphire and Boadicea hops. Find it all over the island but especially at The Mermaid Bar at the Wishing Well, home to their distillery and visitor centre. With Adgestone Vineyard’s Grape to Glass experience you can learn about the process a vineyard goes through to turn a small plant into an award-winning English wine. Beer-lovers who want to drink local should try Goddards near Ryde, the island’s oldest brewery.
Coastal eats – want to be beside the seaside? The Hut at Colwell Bay, Freshwater, will see you right. From laid-back lunches to candlelit dinners on the deck, you’ll want to try their seafood dishes; from fish tacos, to a daily catch that may easily have come from the waters you can see from your table. The Three Buoys in Ryde, voted as having the Island’s best sea view, has a menu that boasts elegant food with big flavours – all as locally sourced as possible. It’s just a 15-minute walk from Wightlink’s port on Ryde Pier.
The freshest seafood - being an island, there’s no shortage of seafood. The Best Dressed Crab, a delightful family-run waterfront seafood café in Bembridge, has been established for 18 years. Of course, their speciality is fresh, local dressed crabs served in their shell and ready to eat. But you can also try whole crabs, giant crab claws and fresh local lobsters, simply cooked. Delicious local Bembridge prawns are also available, when in season.
Buses, Beer & Walks - this free event, taking place on 12th and 13th October this year, takes visitors on vintage bus tours around the Island, with pub stops and walks along the way. There’s the chance to try many real ales, hop on around 100 different buses, visit the Island’s unique pubs and enjoy town and country walks. Pick up a programme for £7 to help support the event. Wightlink is offering 20% off ferry travel for this special weekend.
Garlic - the world-famous Garlic Farm has been producing the pungent bulbs for more than 40 years. Free to enter, you can get the full garlic experience within the beautiful farmland in the Arreton Valley. They’re always cooking up wonderful dishes in their restaurant, and their shop stocks myriad garlicky delicacies, from smoked garlic, to Black Garlic beer and vodka.
Sweetcorn Fayre - taking place this year on 28th and 29th September, the annual Sweetcorn Fayre at Arreton Barns features live music, children’s entertainment, a beer festival, snail racing, a giant sweetcorn fritter and plenty more. It’s the perfect family day out this autumn. While at Arreton Barns, be sure to fill your basket at the Farmer Jack’s store; where you’ll find a mouth-watering selection of local and speciality foods.