since i was first suggested three buoys as an option for lunch while on the isle of wight, i'd been thinking about it. i'd first read over the menu while at work, and it had both me and my colleague chloe drooling over our keyboards by the second item on the menu. in fact, i'd already decided by that point that i'd be ordering at least the first two items on the menu. you know sometimes you read a menu from the top but it takes a few dishes for you to go "yep - i'm having that"? not here. here, i was mentally ordering from the very top of the menu.
so when it looked like we might not be able to fit a visit into the itinerary, i very nearly threw my toys out of the pram. i was going to this restaurant, come hell or high water (or, low-tide, as was the case on sunday when we visited). so determined in fact that we were a tad early arriving for our reservation, and rather than hang about in the shade, the front of house staff were more inclined to make room for us inside, wine lists shoved into our frozen hands. good. already very good.
with our seafront view making us feel like vips, we perused the menu. pointless, because i already knew what i wanted, and it didn't take long to convince rebekah that she wanted it too. and despite her being torn somewhat because seriously, how can you ever not order the seared scallops when they're on the menu, she was pretty easy to convince. here's why: the very first item listed on the menu was the three buoys tasting slate (£18), for two to share. it included: chargrilled asparagus, gin battered hake bites, chorizo with apple puree, paprika-dusted squid, cumin seen sweet potato wedges, with garlic and wasabi mayo.
whoever decided to gin-batter hake is a bloody legend and deserves a medal, because that was what sold that plate for me. the platter arrived colourful and smelling delicious, and looked too good to eat. i say that a lot, and rarely mean it. this time though, i was torn; i didn't want to touch the beautifully plated dish, but i also wanted to eat it all, as soon as possible.
because asparagus is my new-favourite food of all time, it was the first thing i went for. crunchy and juicy, and bursting with flavour, these tasty green stalks could easily have satisfied my palette. but no. there was more. the gin battered fishy bites were like little chunks of heaven, and the smoky chorizo was - actually pretty indescribable; the spicy sausage bites perfectly balanced out the sweet potato and tangy green tomatoes, and the flavours from the individual portions on the platter just somehow worked together, despite being a totally weird combination of food. right?
you'd think there was no chance of dessert after eating all that, and you'd be right. and yet somehow, we bloody managed. after the starter platter and the giant mains, we were stuffed and down a bottle of wine and clearly couldn't make heads nor tales of the dessert menu. so, we left it to the staff to help us decide - although i will say her choices were heavily influenced by our wine consumption and tiredness, and i was insistent that coffee be included in there, somehow. the double affogato (£5) was an excellent decision by me, i have to say. vanilla bean ice cream, almond biscotti and steaming espresso? just what the doctor ordered.
then there was the pina colada pie (£6.50); with shaved coconut, pineapple, spiced rum syrup (drools), ginger ice cream and lime sorbet, this dessert kills all other desserts. i know it's common knowledge about the dessert stomach - you know the one? the second one, that sits separately from your main stomach and only houses desserts? well, it had its time off the bench on sunday. i was so full, but i just kept putting that sweet and creamy pie into my cake hole. my literal cake hole, until there was nothing left and i needed a nap and some fresh air. if we didn't have a hovercraft, cab, and a few trains ahead of us to catch, a nap is what i could have done with.
two hours with three buoys and i was sure my taste buds would never be the same. it probably seems like i'm writing a glowing review, and that's kind of because... i am. the service by the staff was friendly and professional, but super helpful and accommodating. rare, on the mainland. totally normal over there, from what we could tell. their recommendations on wine and dessert was spot on, and the produce knowledge throughout the service was impressive. we had a great time in their care, and i can't recommend this place enough. it's a short stroll along the waterfront from ryde, no more than twenty minutes, and totally easy to find. plus, really reasonably priced for the quality and care that goes into the meal, so yeah.
if you find yourself in ryde in the near future, get on down to three buoys and thank me later.
*thank you to three buoys for their wonderful hospitality and delicious recommendations*