‚Äú Liberty¬ís Caf√© Bar 12 Union Street, Ryde Isle of Wight, PO33 2DU / Telephone: 01983 811007 / E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. ‚Äě
I was lucky enough to be offered a trip to the Isle of Wight by one of my sons on Mothering Sunday in early April. We took the hovercraft from Southsea to Ryde and decided to have a late lunch there before heading to Sandown. The choice of restaurant was left to me. We'd previously been to and very much enjoyed Olivo on Union Street, but I thought it would be interesting to try somewhere different. Liberty's Cafe Bar further down the same street seemed to be the most appealing choice. Situated in a period building, the interior is decorated with statues and plants that create an intriguing mix of contemporary and nostalgic styles.
It was about 3pm when we arrived, so the lunchtime rush was over. One or two groups of people were still enjoying desserts and coffee, but there were several free tables so we picked one in a corner by a window. The waiter brought menus over, explaining that it was only the special Mothers' Day menu that was available that lunchtime. We had already looked in the window and knew what the choices were. He told us that the roasted root vegetables were no longer available with the roast beef and that mixed vegetables would be substituted for these. I ordered a glass of cloudy lemonade with elderflower cordial (¬£2.50) and my son ordered a 'soft sea breeze', a fruit juice cocktail (¬£2.50).
We studied the menu, and I decided I would try the smoked chicken risotto (¬£8.95). My son is not a vegetarian but liked the sound of the stuffed peppers with haloumi. However, when the waiter brought our drinks and asked for our food order, he apologised that the stuffed peppers were no longer available. I was a little surprised that he hadn't mentioned this at the start, as it was the only vegetarian option amongst the main courses and so a vegetarian would have had to go elsewhere. As it was we decided to stay and we both ordered the risotto. While we waited we enjoyed our drinks, which were quite unusual and very refreshing.
It wasn't a long wait for the risottos to be served. They looked a little lonely on large square plates, but risotto is never the most appealing dish visually. As well as smoked chicken, there was asparagus, cherry tomatoes and a generous sprinkling of herbs. It was a good combination of flavours, but it seemed to me as though the smoked chicken was only just cooked enough, and I always like meat to be well done. Others would prefer it the way it was, but for me the dish was not an outstanding one.
As we weren't overly impressed, we decided against dessert. (I should also admit, though, that we had had cake at a tearoom in Southsea that morning, so I was feeling a little guilty.) We asked for the bill, which came to ¬£22.40. We did add a tip but not the most generous one, as the service, like the food, had been just average.
I visited the ladies while we were there. It is reached by a grand staircase, but the stairs are not steep so it was easy to climb. At the top I noticed that there was a closed dining room, which is apparently available for private functions. On entering the ladies I was surprised to find a fitted carpet as well as chairs in front of two heavily framed mirrors. It all seemed very elegant, but when I went into one of the cubicles I noticed a large crack in the wall which rather spoiled first impressions. It was at least all very clean, with plenty of tissue and soap and good hand driers.
Liberty's is open throughout the day, although I'm sure there is a period during the afternoon when main meals are not served. You can just go in for coffee or a cream tea, and there are areas with sofas where you can relax with a drink. Liberty's usual lunch menu offers starters, pasta, omelettes, sandwiches, salads and a few main courses. Starters and light bites range from soup of the day with a roll (¬£3.50) to Isle of Wight crab, tarragon and roasted cherry tomato tart with rocket salad (¬£6.00). The more substantial lunch dishes offer a varied choice of meat, fish and vegetarian options. Prices range from sandwiches served with coleslaw, salad garnish and root vegetable crisps at ¬£5.50 up to pan fried sea bass fillets, crushed new potatoes and a raisin and caper butter sauce at ¬£13.75. Puddings are priced at around ¬£4.50 to ¬£5.00, and they include such delights as caramelised banana and rum cheesecake.
Liberty's evening menu has a good range of starters including tempura battered chicken fillets with garlic sour cream or warm mushroom, blue cheese and potato fritters, each ¬£5.50. The rest of the menu is similar to the lunch menu without the omelettes and sandwiches, but there are more main dishes. Vegetarians can choose from a couple of pasta dishes or fried spinach, wild mushroom suet dumplings in tomato, garlic and herb sauce with feta cheese (¬£10.95). Other examples of main dishes are peppered sirloin steak on green vegetables with a creamy peppercorn and brandy sauce (¬£14.95) or roasted duck breast and braised leg with blueberry, pear and rosemary sauce and lyonnaise potatoes (¬£13.50). Most of the pasta dishes and salads are priced at about ¬£9.00. Puddings are identical to those on the lunch menu, for example poached and glazed meringue with toasted almonds, praline and cr√®me anglaise (¬£4.50). There is then an interesting choice of liqueurs, hot drinks, liqueur coffees and cocktails.
Although we were not particularly impressed by our first visit to Liberty's, I would give it the benefit of the doubt and go back to try the main menu if I had the opportunity. It did also seem like a pleasant place to go and relax on a sofa, just for a coffee and something light to eat. It didn't strike me as quite the kind of place for families with young children; I'm also not aware that there were any disabled facilities. Liberty's is very close to Ryde Esplanade and therefore not far for visitors arriving by ferry or hovercraft, but Union Street is up a bit of a slope. I'm giving it three stars which is a little on the mean side; three and a half would perhaps have been fairer, if it were possible.
Liberty's Cafe Bar
12 Union Street
Isle of Wight
Tel. 01983 811007
I have been to Liberty's twice now and can strongly say only go for party or a quite, romantic meal. It's a beautiful building and designed beautifully within.
It has lovely atmosphere and they have very pleasant staff. It is a posh cafe/ bar and would dress up to go for lunch/dinner or even just a drink otherwise you would feel out of place. My husband would hate to go there!
I went there for a big bash and it was fab! The food was amazing, especially as it was a three course meal for 60 people. It came out a little late but worth the wait as it was delicous and very hot which is so unusal I find these days.
The food is a reasonable price for the quality but not affordable say to visit often.
We sat upstairs and its not spacious up there at all. We weren't squeezed in like sardines but anymore we would of! They had a room upstairs for coats and toilets so we only had to go down for a cigerette.
I have been to liberty's for a night out too and had to say it was alittle boring! By then I was a little tipsy and felt I had to be on my best behaviour as it's so quiet everyone would hear you!
This would be a great place to meet some of your friends for more of a catch up drink or business lunches. The music is very low with romantic lighting so a great place to have a romantic meal.
They do fantastic cocktails and a wide range of drinks you wouldn't be disappointed. The drinks are a little expensive to your usual bars.
I would give this a four out five for the lovely atmosphere and food it is well deserved.