We've been eating outside a lot this summer.
It's partly a lingering caution about Covid (for reasons which I won't go into here) and partly because I like to spend every possible moment outdoors when the weather is good.
I thought I'd share a little of our recent experiences for others who are looking to eat outdoors on the Isle of Wight.
Four of the best al fresco meals we've had this summer have been at The Blacksmiths, just outside of Carisbrooke, The Cow near Freshwater, The Hut in Colwell and The True Food Kitchen at Castlehaven in Niton.
The Blacksmiths and The Cow had technology working like a dream when we visited.
On both occasions, we were given a QR code and ordered our food at our tables. It promptly arrived and we managed two excellent courses in an hour.
My mother was sceptical when I told her and said she wants more of a ‘personal touch’ when she eats out. I pointed out that a ‘personal touch’ is the last thing you want from a stranger during a pandemic. If you prefer to make your evening meals last a little longer then you can order each course separately.
The ordering process at both was as simple as buying anything online. Neither meal required us to step inside the building at all.
The Blacksmiths didn't have a cover over our table but they had some parasols, blankets and cushions to make the outdoor dining experience more pleasant. The Cow had a large covered area which was welcome with rain forecast. In the end, the sun was shining which made it a very pleasant evening.
The True Food Kitchen was also excellent, although it worked slightly differently.
The location is right by Castlehaven beach which is one of the Isle of Wight’s lesser known beaches. I’d estimate that 90% of Isle of Wight visitors have never seen Castlehaven beach or perhaps even heard of it.
It took us 10 minutes to walk down from the car but we were without the children so it was a nice stroll rather than an ordeal. We parked at the top of the road down. In hindsight, we should have parked near the Buddle and taken the footpath down as that cuts off a corner.
There was no app or website for booking, probably because the phone signal at Castlehaven is very iffy. However, the whole place is outdoors and spacious and the service was quick.
In fact, the whole experience at The True Food Kitchen was outstanding. The steak was the best Mrs Guru had tasted and the combination of a warm evening and sea views was something special. It genuinely felt like we were in a different country, at least until the sun started to drop and we started to shiver a bit.
The Hut in Colwell was another positive experience of outside dining. It was busy and buzzing despite being 10am on a Thursday.
The restaurant is cleverly designed so that the roof can be opened when the sun shines.
Our table was set back some way inside but it was a warm day so the roof was open and the large doors were opened so it just about felt like we were outdoors.
If you want a 100% outdoor dining experience then you would need one of the tables along the front at The Hut.
We ate brunch at The Hut because it was fully booked on most days. It's very popular with red trouser wearing sailors and Instagram darlings and has had various celebrity visitors in the last couple of years.
I enjoyed the view and our meal greatly and will certainly return. That's despite not being a Trendy Wendy myself, which was hammered home by a couple of things:
1) I was wearing a pair of £1.49 sunglasses from Home Bargains, whilst most other diners were making more of an effort.
2) Mrs Guru pointed out that my shorts had a huge baked bean stain on them from the previous day. I think I got away with it.
Some of our other experiences of Covid-safe outdoor dining on the Isle of Wight this summer:
I'd be keen to hear other recommendations of Isle of Wight pubs and restaurants which are offering 100% outdoor dining experiences.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog