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The Botanic Garden Café – Our find of the Summer : (Secret Green Guide to The Isle of Wight, Part III)

August 23, 2010 in Eat Local & Organic
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Ventnor is fast becoming the gourmet capital of the Isle of Wight, and now, at last the lovely Botanic Gardens has a café worthy of its world-renowned status and a talented, charismatic, new chef in Bridget Wells.

The Royal Garden Café is my hot tip for a seasonally inspired lunch or decadent afternoon tea with wicked, oversized meringues and pretty cup cakes that will enchant even the most demanding food aficionado.

Suddenly, there are plenty of reasons to linger by the fountain or the lovely magnolia tree and graze on Bridget’s delicately spiced fishcakes made with local pollock or mackerel and well-dressed, inventive salads that are anything but boring. She has even achieved the near impossible and made trendy quinoa sexy and delicious! Sensibly, Bridget and her clearly happy, young brigade have kept the menu short and the focus is on ensuring the quality, local provenance and appeal of main dishes is just right.

The catch of the day was plaice straight off the boats in Ventnor Haven, and a beautifully presented ploughman’s of home cooked ham, terrine and relish was a hit with my hard to please man who pronounced it  ‘food for the eyes as well as the stomach’. In fact lunch was so good that we decided to go off and explore the gardens for an hour before returning to enjoy a perfect cream tea, with fluffy scones, amazing strawberry jam and yes, those infamous meringues, piled enticingly high on the Italian style deli counter.

Bridget, a protége of pastry maestro Steve Bott at The Royal is clearly enchanted by opportunity to conjure up food in such inspiring surroundings and tells me that she is looking forward to working with the head gardener Chris Kidd, and using some of the garden’s seasonal treasures in the new jams, compotes and gourmet breads she is planning in the coming months.

The Royal Garden Café at The Botanic Gardens, Ventnor, Isle of Wight
Tel: 01983 855570
Open: Summer 10am-5pm; Winter weekends 10am-5pm.
(Lunch 12non-3pm)
For further info: Please telephone the café.

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about the author

Alison Jane Reid

Alison Jane Reid - Journalist, Editor & Emerald Princess of Slow, Sustainable Luxury Living - 18 year track record interviewing real icons for: The Times, The Lady, You, The Mirror and Country Life. Now leading her alluring fairtrade, emerald revolution - Don’t Miss Out - Have you joined The Ethical Hedonist set?



7 responses to “The Botanic Garden Café – Our find of the Summer : (Secret Green Guide to The Isle of Wight, Part III)”

  1. Mr T says:

    Thanks for the tip EH, we decided to go for lunch and a stroll – it was pitch perfect. Fresh seasonal and sustainable food followed by a delightful postprandial walk in what is quite an amazing Botanic Garden. Great combination. We even stumbled upon a secret cove. More island treasure please EH!

  2. Belle says:

    Fresh fish! My favourite!!

  3. Wight Glutton says:

    Love, love, love the hazelnut meringue in your picture. Sampled one on my last visit. So moist. So Sticky. So Gooey. Have you tried the strawberry ones yet? They are pretty decadent too.
    Judith (“Wight Glutton”)

  4. Hannah Davies says:

    We love it here too! One of our favourite places to be on the Isle. xx

  5. Jane Barnard says:

    The Botanic Gardens is one of my favourite places, especially on a long hot summer day.
    The cafe has added something else with its wonderful tantalizing food.
    Its a must do if on the Isle of Wight.

  6. Peter says:

    Thanks. Tried it last week and had a delicious tea with my wife. REAL homemade strawberry jam with the scones. Peter & Jan Svandstrom

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