We had a chance, in between me traveling to all four corners of the earth, to stay the night at The Hambrough in Ventnor during the Ventnor Fringe week. Now although we have eaten at The Hambrough in the past, when it was under the direction of Robert Thompson, we had never stayed – for to be honest we just didn’t get the whole idea of staying in Ventnor.
As West Wighters (us Islanders are very parochial) although we know visitors do seem to love our most southerly town, and it is a mecca for all things gastro and vintage on the Island – we had never seen it as a place to stay before. Well, that was all blown out of the water after a night out on the town.
Making the most of our night off from the children, we arrived at The Hambrough early evening and were shown to our room (apparently the smallest they have to offer – but it was still a great size and really simply and tastefully done out). Having never ventured upstairs before, you really only get a sense of the Victorian splendor of the building when you wend your way up the staircase – three floors – it is almost tardis like. Keen to sample the new menu and see how the new team are settling in, we sat down to enjoy the new chef’s taster menu that went on and on and quite honestly blew my mind; the wine flowed just as well with each course, complementing the tastes and flavours that were placed in front of us.
If you visit you simply MUST try the Marmite fudge – whether you love or hate the stuff – it just works!
Christian who runs the restaurant was the much needed front of house personality that the place was lacking in the past. Chef Darren Beevers and his partner Jo Rogers who manages The Hambrough were absolutely lovely – very welcoming and I wish them every success – if they continue the way they’ve started The Hambrough will definitely stay in my top 5 foodie/stay list for a long time to come.
After a very long and extremely enjoyable meal we ventured out into Ventnor heartland and experienced for the first time – The Ventnor Arts Club. This was of course during the Fringe so there was lots to see and in particular I enjoyed the heart warming play on the musical era of war time with huge audience participation as you can imagine. The ambiance and venue took me back to my youth drinking in the local Con club and this great evening was nicely capped off by a few D&S’s…
The next day had us watching a crazy 2 man show for the children (who were brought over to join us by the MIL) trying to (I think) make some environmental power source from a machine that resembled a couple of bikes, alarm clock and plumbers pipes… that eventually spewed out what looked like cork? Confusion reigned and luckily it was lunchtime so meandering towards our final destination we stopped at The Pond café restaurant to check out their delights.
The lunch was sublime and very light on the pallet and so much better than when I last had a meal there…the Meze boards were devoured by the children and a satisfying portion it was (apparently). Suffice to say, supper at The Hambrough followed by lunch in The Pond isn’t a bad way to re-connect with the Island after weeks of traveling!
So, my advice having now gone and done the whole Ventnor thang is this – find a free weekend, book yourself in to one of the great places to stay it has on offer (Hambrough/Hillside/Royal/Ocean View House) and enjoy some wonderful food and a thoroughly great night out on the town.