Restaurant Review: Three Buoys, Ryde on the Isle of Wight
A blustery trip across the Solent we approach the island town of Ryde. Bobbing closer en route over the waves towards the town’s marina we spot the booming hovercraft, shuttling passengers from Portsmouth, thundering up onto the slipway. Once moored we jump out and meander along the concrete promenade and approaching a huge stretch of golden sanded beach – it is clear to see why this partly forgotten seaside town was once a popular destination with the Victorians. Gentle waves with a view straight over to Portsmouth on the mainland opposite, we walk towards what at first appears to be any other ice cream or sandwich beach cafe, but a little further on we are directed upstairs to Three Buoys restaurant and terrace.
Overlooking Ryde’s sandy asset we arrive before the hoards of groups at our tails. The Three Buoys is light, airy with a fresh coastal finish, set against a panoramic scene of the Solent and the city of Portsmouth – unavoidable with its signature Spinnaker Tower. Their menu includes fresh local catches as well as popular main dishes and is split up into smaller parts – a clever technique to encourage diners to add to their order. To start they offer to ‘treat yourself’ with a glass of Prosecco before then onto a selection of ‘nibbles’ such as a bowl of fat, marinated Spanish olives and hot glazed pork belly bites served with apple sauce – this was, if not a highlight, then a very great start.
Their ‘to begin’ section starts to showcase the fact that they are more than, say, the next seafood restaurant next door. Seared scallops or petits pois risotto primavera, or for the conscious diner; something more local such as marinated heritage Isle of Wight tomatoes are up for grabs. All four of us share a listing at the top – their Tasting Slate, and recommended for two, we threw in some lemon floured calamari for good measure. A rainbow of colour arrives in the centre of our wooden table on what really is a large dark slate – with a prism of flavours too. This beginner features char grilled asparagus, gin battered hake bites, some seriously good chorizo, more squid and chunks of soft sweet potato; if you share one thing here, this should be it.
Peeking over to their specials board entitled ‘Catch before they go’ we spotted a crab bruschetta accompanied with chilli, apple, dill and aioli and seared salmon supreme with Jersey royal potatoes, red onion & asparagus, petits pois puree, radish and wasabi ricotta. Amongst the four of us we ordered the remaining two listed – a memorable whole baked plaice with new potatoes, samphire, lemon with tomato butter and a fillet of sea bream with butternut squash and cauliflower florets. From the main menu, under our noses, the gin battered fish with lemon salted chips and a pot of fragrant mussels steamed in lemongrass, spring onion and coconut curry.
A family run restaurant, Three Buoys thrive in offering seafood to an excellent level. A little disorganised at times, don’t expect super suave service but with their creative use of ingredients and imaginative twists the menu holds its own and offers delicious surprises from start to finish. Their aim is to deliver elegant food with big flavours, and they certainly stick by this. Packed from corner to corner with both locals and visitors to the island such as ourselves, Three Buoys lead the way for seafood dining on the Isle of Wight with a view as memorable as their characterful menu.
Address: Appley Ln, Ryde PO33 1ND, 01983 811212, threebuoys.co.uk