Summer on the Isle of Wight is the perfect time to tuck into some of the freshest and most locally sourced seafood, especially if the fish on the menu is sourced from the sea directly in front of you.
It’s a time when the Island’s eateries are showcasing their seafood platters, crab pasties have a queue all summer long and many people are even having a go at catching their own.
Here’s our guide to where you can get your fill of seafood – and eat it!
Do as the locals do and head to the towns where the fish are caught and landed. In Bembridge try the Island’s only floating café. The Best Dressed Crab is on a houseboat in Bembridge Harbour and the fish are landed right outside. Specialising in local lobster and crab, its seafood platters are legendary.
For those that fancy cooking at home, Captain Stan’s sell a large variety of species of fresh fish which are found in the waters around the Island. They also do a delivery service to mainland England and Wales for those that fancy a little taste of the Isle of Wight when they arrive home!
For seafood right by the sea, The Beach Hut Bar & Seafood Kitchen, located on Foreland Beach is a popular spot. This little hut serves up fresh seafood such as local crab and lobster, giant crevettes, garlic prawns. All washed down with a glass of something chilled. Only open on dry days.
The Seaview Hotel has been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand for creative, affordable food and regularly feature locally-caught fish on the menu. Known Island-wide for its much fabled Crab Ramekin, which has been re-created in many a venue, a visit here is a must to sample the original.
For seafood served up in a pub setting, The Steamer Inn, Shanklin is hard to beat. Set right opposite the sandy beach of Sandown Bay, guests can chow down on seafood chowder, fish stew and seafood tagliatelle whilst looking out across the English Channel. Push the proverbial boat out and go for The Steamer Seafood Platter for two, subject to availability.
Ventnor Haven Fishery offers fish and chips, with the fish being caught and landed directly below, you can even watch the boats come in. Try what is known as the ‘Island’s National Dish’ – fresh crab atop chunky chips (or sweet potato fries depending on what you fancy).
In Ventnor you will find a cluster of eateries which highlight local seafood as the shining star of the menu. The Ale and Oyster (the clue is in the name) is a relaxed bistro, set right opposite the Channel. Featured in the Michelin Guide, expect to find an extremely appetizing menu with plenty of fish and seafood dishes to choose from, such as lobster linguine and Ventnor crab three ways.
The Smoking Lobster marries local seafood with Asian flavours to create a menu and buzz that keeps people coming back for more. Squid ink sliders are packed with soft-shell crab, Ceviche arrives on a bed of seaweed salad and yellowfin tuna is served up tartare style.
Take a stroll (or boat) to Steephill Cove, the jewel in the crown of the Island’s seafood. The Crab Shed receives visitors from far and wide, all beating a path to the door for the crab pasties, made with fresh crab, caught each morning in the waters right opposite. Happily, the shed is recently licensed so you can now enjoy a glass of something bubbly with your pasty.
Yarmouth is a mecca for seafood lovers, with many visitors mooring their yachts in the harbour. Salty’s is known for its dancing on the tables and lock-ins as much as its menu! On the ground floor you will find the bar with its Mediterranean feel and casual dining on long bench tables. Upstairs is a more formal affair and the restaurant offers an excellent dining experience, where you can relax and enjoy a lovely bottle of wine and some great food.
This is just a taster of seafood the Island has to offer, visit tasteofthewight.co.uk for more.