“ Esplanade, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, PO37 6BN. Tel:01983-863023 „
My husband and I enjoyed a wonderful meal here; out on the covered deck overlooking the sea as the sun went down with patio heaters on, it felt like the Med. Our hosts have recently taken over this place, David Link & his family were very welcoming and attentive. The daily specials and menu listed inviting selections that did not disappoint us or our fellow diners. I had the 'special' Seafood Gratin, fresh & amazing, himself indulged in Garlic Chicken & new potatoes. We then shared a Chocolate Orange Cheesecake @Marmalade Reduction, just the perfect balance to complete our meal to perfection. We wish the Waterfront Inn every future success and recommend it to one & all. Had I found this restaurant/bistro/bar at the beginning of my Isle of Wight stay, I would not have gone anywhere else!!
On our recent trip to the Isle of Wight, Shanklin was the slightly sleepy but pretty part of the island that we were calling home for the week. The town is nice enough, but we decided for dinner each night, we wanted to eat some where along the seafront and watch the waves. The beach front here has many places to choose from it's filled from end to end with hotels, bars and restaurants. Bizarrely however, none rowdy and the place still seems as tranquil by night as by day. This is not to say everywhere is boring, however. Easily the best place we found for food, drink and a good night was The Waterfront Inn.
Situated just over the road from Shanklin's lovely sandy beach, it boasts excellent views from the sea, whether you sit outside on the decked area or inside looking out the huge windows. Of course this was the main draw of choosing here for our dinner, though I guess the fact the place had a more modern look to it's neighbours also drew us to it initially.
Inside, we got a bit of a shock walking in to be confronted with a full size Terminator statue, but this was just the start. My title is no exaggeration, this place is a real film lovers treasure trove. The landlord seems particularly keen on the golden age of cinema, as Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Elvis lead the count of memorabilia.
Some people, I guess would find this all a bit tacky, personally I thought, though everything wasn't to my taste, it was fascinating, definitely a few conversation starters for over dinner. We visited twice on our holiday, after being impressed first time around. Both times we sat with window seats, while although the place was rather busy were fairly easy to get for two without booking. The first time, I was rather nervously eating dinner having Arnold Schwarzenegger watching me. Though he was outside the next time we were there. I think it was a bit of a staff joke to move him around every day!
The bar was clean, will stocked and offered a huge variety of draft, and bottled drinks as well as some devilishly delicious sounding cocktails (all with a Hollywood theme of course) for under a fiver each. A life size model of Elvis greets you at the bar, as well as some very friendly bar staff.
This is still essentially a pub/ bar and not a restaurant, though the food is restaurant quality. The pub food ordering system applies here, you go up to the bar to order food and pay upfront. I suppose this has it's pros and cons. I personally like a less formal atmosphere, and this was there is not so much pressure to tip if you have paid first! On the other hand, I feel if they have my money first are they going to take as much care and I don't have the right to refuse to pay if it's inedible. Luckily, this wasn't going to be an issue.
The notice at the bar said there would be half and hour wait for food, I thought it was a good touch to let people know before they order! In fact the food came a lot quicker than this so full marks for service.
The food is as much the star of this place as, well the stars. For pub dining, it's not cheap but, excuse the cliché, you get what you pay for and the food here is excellent quality. The menu is extensive, with everything from burgers to gorgeous seafood, pastas and salads. They cater for rather large appetites as we discovered and you get a fair bit of quantity to go with your quality! Starters are a little steep between £6-£10, but large. We went here on our last night and decided to do starters and mains, even though we knew how much food we were letting ourselves in for! I sampled the prawn cocktail, though it had a twist of added crayfish that just made it that little more luxurious. The previous visit however, having to save the pennies for the rest of our week, we ordered some sides as starters, that the staff were happy to do this. These were a more reasonable £2-£3 each but still a generous size. Garlic bread and onion rings stopped the growling in our tummies before our mains came out. I always find this is quite a good trick when I go out to eat. It really need not be that expensive to dine out, if you are sensible. Quite often it's the wine, starters, sides, and desserts that bump up that bill and if you can compromise on those you'll be surprised how reasonable a lot of places are. Most of the time we haven't got room for all those extras anyway. Quite often now we will just share a side as a starter.
The mains at The Waterfront are really out to impress, and if you like your steaks this is a good place to come. Their speciality is what they call 'black rock' grilled dishes. You can choose a number of meats which are brought out on a sizzling hot slab of rock. My other half had the lamb steak, which was very big, much bigger that the portions of lamb you get in most places. The waitress told him that the rock will continue to cook his lamb for him and to use the seasoning provided to add as he goes. The dish came with a chilli butter to melt onto the meat, a selection of sauces, chunky chips and salad. He was really impressed and it added a whole new experience to dining out. One point he did make however, is he was glad he chose lamb as he likes it cooked any way. If you liked your steak very rare however, the fact that the rock keeps cooking it may not go in your favour, unless you were a very fast eater! Also, the rock acted liked central heating for the table and I think we were cooking as much as the meat! We might not have a got a tan form the British weather that holiday, but we did from that meal!
My main was equally impressive, even if it lacked the theatre. I ordered their 'Seafood Special.' I'm always reluctant to order a 'something special' as I get worried about what the 'special' is going to be , a bit like 'something surprise.' Once again, a need not have worried. This was special for all the right reasons. If you like your sea food and like it pure and not messed about with this is for you. Gorgeous big prawns, local meaty crab and lots of it and smoked salmon were heaped into a little mountain in the middle of my fish shaped plate. There was a portion of coleslaw on his tail and salad on his head. I also got chunky brown bread, lemon and seafood sauce on the side. To me this is my idea of heaven on a plate. The crab was the best I've tasted, not tiny bits like confetti, but big chunky meaty crab meat. Delicious.
Of course, on this first visit of the week to The Waterfront we were both fighting the urge to order our usual favourite, ribs. So we went back for them, and they were truly scrummy. This ribs cost around £12 a portion and were worth it. The 'Seafood special' was an amazing £10.75, really good value I thought for the amount of good quality seafood I got. The 'Black Rock' grilled dishes ranged between £10 -£20 depending on the size, cut and meat of your steak.
There were all manner of yummy looking desserts on the dessert board at the bar, but 'eyes bigger than stomach' syndrome had struck again. Shame.
Apart from just good food, drink, lovely setting and unusual décor, The Waterfront also had a full diary of entertainment. We were lucky enough to have visited on kareoke night, and staff, landlord, visitors and locals we all up for a sing, a lot of them surprisingly very good. Some, not so good. We didn't join in, after our large meal I feel all I could have done would be to belch into the mic, and thought it was better I just stayed full and sleepy in the corner.
There was just the one shortfall of this place, and that's the loos. Not important maybe, but essential. There was simply a scruffy A4 inkjet printed piece of paper pinned to the door with bluetack to tell me which was the ladies, and once inside the light did not work, so I had to fumble about in the dark. (I'm so glad I wasn't drinking that night.) To their credit this problem was sorted when we went back a few days later, and with light the loos weren't as scruffy as I imagined. I do think though, with such attention to detail out front, this could have been carried through.
Overall, this was the best place we ate on the Isle of Wight when we visited this summer. If you are staying in the Sandown / Shanklin area, you could do a lot worse that a dinner at The Waterfront.