With its royal connections, Queen Victoria built a house here, long-time popularity and island status there are many reasons to book a stay on the Isle of Wight. We find the most compelling tucked away in the charming town of Ventnor, at boutique hotel and award-winning restaurant, The Hambrough…
Thinking (as ever) with our stomachs, we were drawn to The Hambrough because of its serious culinary credentials. It gained its star under Robert Thompson, and new Head Chef Darren Beevers is working hard to maintain the same standard.
With stints at the stoves of Chez Bruce, Pollen Street Social and Club Gascon, it’s hardly surprising that everything we taste from Beevers’ menu is brimming with confidence.
More importantly it’s just ruddy good; from a groan-inducing plate of pork cooked two ways, a perfect sliver of pink loin, and a sweet, slow-tangled heap of cheek, to a dish of just-caught mackerel and heat-mellowed IOW tomatoes so memorable we’d happily swim the Solent to eat it again. All the obligatory dots, smears and prettily presented plates follow the Michelin formula beautifully, but we also liked quirky touches like the petit fours, which included a fudge made from white chocolate and blue cheese.
When Beevers came on board earlier this year, he brought with him his partner Johanna Rogers as operations manager. And from what we saw, she’s keeping up her side of the bargain. All seven of the rooms are immaculate, with the kind of subtle interior design touches that come only from people with plenty of money to spend but enough style to hold back.
As well as flawless attention to detail (including a Nespresso machine, sweet-smelling products, fluffy robes and under floor heating), our room also boasted an expensive-cotton-clad bed, huge bathroom, open-plan living area and balcony, which is where we ate a breakfast of locally sourced bacon, crusty bread and sunny piles of scrambled eggs looking out across Ventnor and out to the sea.
Before our boat back to the mainland, we stopped at The Pond Cafe in the bucolic village of Bonchurch for a brilliantly cooked plate of local lamb and a truly magnificent chocolate pudding laced with honeycomb.
If this was the island’s final stab at winning its case as a worthy choice for a top-notch gastronomic weekend, there was no need. We were hooked.
For more information visit thehambrough.com