FROM A fairly prosaic former chippy in Cowes High Street on the Isle of Wight has been wrought a delightful Italian-style venue with some unusual features, serving what is known as 'small plates', as well as a few pizzas.

We were reassured to hear that two or three plates could make a decent meal.

There were plenty of seasonal touches, and it looked as though it might be possible to assemble the components of a traditional Christmas dinner.

We watched our dishes being prepared in the nearby open kitchen with enthusiasm and skill, which was a great reason to get a table in the front of the venue - we'd suggest you do the same if you're not going into the eponymous garden.

Isle of Wight County Press: Some of the dishes we enjoyed.Some of the dishes we enjoyed. (Image: Matt & Cat)

First out of the gate was zucchini fries with truffle oil and Parmesan, which were moreish salty morsels that we eagerly scoffed.

Sautéed brussels sprouts came with fried lardons and a creamy sauce, making what sounded like a side dish into a substantial and tasty portion that we squabbled over.

It would be hard to resist cauliflower three-cheese-stuffed Yorkshire puddings, and we didn't. These light puds were loaded with a gooey, cheesy mass of sauce and cauli. A clever and enjoyable treat.

The soft, perfectly-textured ring of aromatic slow-braised beef brisket was redolent with star anise and cloves; a heady, spicy delight.

Isle of Wight County Press: The goat's cheese tartlet.The goat's cheese tartlet. (Image: Matt & Cat)

Densely flavoured grilled goats' cheese tartlet came with chutney, a honey-roasted fig and wintery chestnuts.

We didn't ask if the chestnuts had been roasted on an open fire, though we added a side of roasted root veg to make the perfect festive spread.

It was almost impossible to get everything on the table, but our waitress did her best.

We helped out by eating our way through what was a fabulous dinner. We finished off with gelato and a splendidly wobbly panna cotta.

Isle of Wight County Press: Sautéed brussels sprouts came with fried lardons and a creamy sauce.Sautéed brussels sprouts came with fried lardons and a creamy sauce. (Image: Matt & Cat)

This was a very enjoyable meal out. Cowes has got an interesting and very promising new venue that we're definitely going to try again.

The food is worth exploring, and if the service is a bit casual that's not always a bad thing. We just hope they'll be offering a waterside catering truck during Cowes Week so they can promote it with the slogan "Come into The Garden, Moored."


Sprouts £7
Brisket £12
Goats cheese tartlet £9
Cauliflower Yorkshires £8
Zucchini fries £7
Roasted root veg £7
Gelato £4
Panna cotta £7

TOTAL: £61

RATING: Four stars. Very good indeed; well worth seeking out.


The Garden, 48 High Street, Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO31 7RR.

Tel: 01983 300142

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Isle of Wight County Press: Be prepared to be amazed by the tasty treats on offer!Be prepared to be amazed by the tasty treats on offer! (Image: Matt & Cat)