“ Address: High Street / Wootton Bridge / Ryde / Isle of Wight / PO33 4LJ / England „
Having heard generally positive reports about the Brasserie at the Lakeside Park Hotel on the Isle of Wight, we decided to visit for dinner. The Brasserie is part of the Lakeside's four star rated hotel and spa complex which opened only a few years ago. Although this review primarily focuses on the restaurant, I should point out that the hotel's room tariff per night ranges between £130 - £175 in peak season, and all hotel guests may use the spa facilities free of charge - this includes the hydro pool, jacuzzi, steam room, and sauna.
The hotel is situated in a magnificent location overlooking the beautiful Wootton Creek, and there are few places to eat on the Island which can match the excellent views. It's a real shame that more thought hasn't gone into the design of the building itself, as it looks a more like a set of council offices than a quality hotel. For the drivers amongst you, finding space for your car won't be a problem as there is plenty of room in the large parking area.
Upon arrival we were shown to a comfortable lounge area to order some drinks whilst we looked at the menus. Our waiter wasn't especially friendly, appearing awkward and a little grumpy - I can honestly say that he didn't smile once during he entire evening, and had no charisma whatsoever. The menu itself was fairly limited, but we didn't mind as there was something which we were all happy to try. To give you an example of the prices, the Beer Battered Fish and Chips cost £9.50, whilst the Half Lobster that I chose retailed at £14.50.
- The Eating Experience -
One of the first things that I noticed was the fact that there wasn't anyone else eating in the restaurant (which is a always a bad sign at 7.45 in the evening), and this made for a lack of atmosphere in the brasserie's large interior. On the plus side, the décor inside the restaurant is very pleasant - clean and modern with big windows that allow the diner to look out over the water. For a starter I chose the ham terrine with pickled vegetables - it arrived fairly quickly along with the other starters, and the presentation was immaculate. It was a little nouvelle cuisine-esque in dimensions, but as a starter it was perfectly acceptable. Unfortunately the taste couldn't quite match the appearance, and the flavour was a little reminiscent of tinned ham.
After our starters were done and dusted, the main courses arrived without too much delay - or I should say, three out of four of our main courses arrived. One of our partie's dinners had been completely forgotten about and not cooked. The waiter who brought out the food said something along the lines of "is there another meal to come?" before asking what it was, and shuffling back toward the kitchen. We waited and waited, not knowing how long the missing meal would take to arrive - in the mean time, no-one came to apologise. Around twenty minutes later, the food eventually turned up... by which time the rest of us had finished our dinners. The waiter wasn't very apologetic, although in the end we didn't end up paying for the meal that was late - it really was like something from Fawlty Towers!
In terms of the food's quality, the main courses (like the starters) were very nicely presented - my half lobster in particular looked great, although it didn't come with a finger bowl, which made for a messy eating experience. One of us chose the steak, which was a little chewy and verging on 'Well Done' rather than 'medium' as requested. Overall, out of the four diners in our party, the best complement we could pay to the food was "it was OK", which really isn't good enough when the cheapest main course costs around £10. We finished with desserts (my cheesecake was very pleasant) - although they took a long time to turn-up, and there was another mix up with the waiters when they tried to take our order twice (by this time we found the whole thing quite comical... we had already decided that we weren't coming back!)
- Additional Services / Final Word -
Inside the restaurant there are nicely furnished washroom facilities which are tiled to a high standard and finished with modern fittings - that said, in one of the cubicles there was toilet paper scattered around the place, and the contents of a handwash bottle spilled all over the floor. So what can I say about the Brasserie at the Lakeside Park Hotel? - well it's in a stunning location, and the food is excellently presented, but an incredibly poor level of service really let the venue down - in fact, it was some of the worst service I've ever experienced, and I eat out a lot. I could perhaps forgive the moody waitor and the missing food if the restaurant had been full of people, but seeing as we were the only people eating it really wasn't acceptable.
One of the most spectacular new restaurant and hotel complexes that has opened on the Isle of Wight in recent years is the Waterside Restaurant and hotel in Wootton. Its imposing and inviting lighting really adds some class to Wootton which up until recently was only known as the place to get yourself a £3.50 carvery at the Sloop Inn.
The Waterside Hotel and Restaurant has a fantastic setting just along Wootton Creek overlooking the water. It used to be a nightclub back in the 70's and 80's, but more recently has been updated and renovated to give a much needed shot of class to the Isle of Wight eating out scene.
The complex is split into three distinct areas each of which I will describe as I have been there on three occasions and used all of the facilities this excellent venue has to offer.
Driving down towards the restaurant and hotel, you get the impression that this couldn't possibly be somewhere on the Isle of Wight, as it really is very modern and out of place, but in a good way. There are many spaces to park in the ample car park, sot there are no problems there. The tasteful renovation mixes wood and white plaster concrete very well and the surrounding areas are nicely landscaped giving excellent views over the lake. The front of the hotel has a large decking area that also includes a wooden pagoda that is obviously aimed at the wedding market that the venue caters for.
The restaurant itself is the main area of the hotel and the one that has a fantastic panoramic view of the creek. It is not a cheap venue by any means and I would suggest visiting there if you've got a bit of money to spare, or go there when its someone's birthday.
The large bar area is cool and modern, whilst also echoing some retro 70's vibes. Some people have said that the restaurant is uninviting and dull; this might be true if the place isn't very busy, but every time we have been there it has been good. The place is never 'jumping' per-say, it's a much more laid back place to eat - hardly a place to have a party.
Expect to pay between £20 - £30 for a decent meal in the restaurant and more for drinks. The food and service has always been fantastic when we have been there. The evening meals that I have had there have comprised of prawn and avocado salad, a very rare steak and the BEST cake I have ever tasted. The portions have never been massive, but I have never left feeling hungry. For example the steak I had was medium rare and the chips were served in a mini chip fryer - very different! All the food is sourced from local producers which is also good for local businesses.
When we stayed at the hotel we also had a buffet breakfast there which consisted of eggs, bacon and the usual trimmings. Probably one of the best breakfasts I've ever had - and I've had a few breakfasts!
The service has been excellent with some very attentive waiters and waitresses. All I would suggest is that there is some form of entertainment later on in the evening, as things there just seem to end abruptly with nothing to sit back and watch or listen to. Nothing cheesy - maybe someone playing piano for example, but something is needed there.
However, the restaurant has been excellent everytime I have eat there and is highly recommended, but it's worth bringing along a little extra money for something nice - a good date venue!
The hotel is probably one of the higher end hotels on the Island now along with The Priory Bay and the Bembridge Hotel. The rooms are massive with modern fixtures and fittings.
Never have I slept in a bed with such a heavy duvet, as soon as I got under the covers it seemed to put me to sleep immediately! The bed was very comfortable and luxurious. The television had a huge number of channels and was a large widescreen wall mounted version.
It was a shame that our room wasn't one that overlooked the creek, so we had to deal with one that had a lovely view of the car park, which was a little annoying. The shower room was huge with a massive mirror and huge bath. I know for a fact that most of the rooms retail at over £150 per night, but you may get a better deal if you book online. Our rooms came with a cooked breakfast as well, which was excellent as well as access to the spa downstairs.
The spa is situated on the ground floor of the hotel and includes a small pool, a steam room, a Jacuzzi and a sauna. Men and women have large changing rooms with lockers with access to the pool area. The pool isn't massive, but is ample for relaxing and swimming. It also has water cannons that were being used by some annoying brats when we were there.
The sauna and the steam rooms were spacious, although I don't like them myself, my girlfriend did say that they were very good. I enjoy lying in the Jacuzzi which was very relaxing indeed. The spa area also has a view of some greenery outside, whilst also having some privacy.
It would be nice for a bit more light in the pool area, but this is only a minor criticism.
If you like to occasionally go out for a really decent meal, want to treat your partner or go for a family meal, then the Waterside is an excellent choice. Time will tell as to whether it is taken up by the local population for the whole year and whether enough people use the spa, but I would encourage every Islander or anyone on holiday to give it a go.
The facilities are superb, especially the view over the Creek which adds some real class to the Wootton area. The food, the hotel and the spa are fantastic and are incredibly well kept and presented.
I really recommend the Waterside complex and cant wait for my next visit!