The Orrery (Ryde, Isle of Wight)

The Orrery is without a doubt The Isle of Wight's finest vegetarian cafe.

As The Isle of Wight's only vegetarian cafe however this isn't overly surprising - it's also the worst.

If weirdness were a metric used for rating eateries, The Orrery's off to a good start. I've not taken acid before, but if I ever do I expect The Orrery's decor to feature heavily. With highly patterned walls, ceiling, mirrored tables, working planetarium and 'God Slot' (their word's not mine!) it's Alice In Wonderland meets wtf.

At the back is what can best be described as being a smutty postcard museum. The only punters visitors we saw for it were more than a little scary looking (we tried not to make eye contact and pretended we hadn't seen them).

Talking of visitors, despite being the only people dining the guy behind the counter was turning other customers away. I've never seen anything like it - everyone who came through the door was talked into leaving, with excuses including a lack of strawberries available to use for cream teas. Behind the counter is also the kitchen, and whilst the word vegan appeared on the specials board against three curries, it was absent from the (sticky) printed menu. Ordering falafel pittas involved reading ingredient labels ourselves, followed by an extortionately long wait.

What finally came was alright. The falafels had been mushed up inside which was a little odd, and no overly useful as we'd planned on giving some of them to our toddler. Taste was good though and the sweet chilli sauce worked well.

Unfortunately none of the cakes / biscuits seemed to be vegan so we didn't stay for coffee.

I get the impression that the The Orrery could be made good with not a lot of work - better service, cleanliness and choice of vegan options (properly marked on the menu). A browse through TripAdvisor reviews describe much the same experience that we had.

Would I recommend The Orrery? I guess that depends on how long you're staying on The Isle of Wight and how hungry you get. We went self catering and cooked most our meals ourselves. In the space of a week we ate at Pizza Express no less than 3 times (sad I know) and having done our big shop in Tesco found a Waitrose by accident towards the end of the week (which the Internet said didn't exist).

I guess what I'm trying to say is: The Orrery's alright, but not great. Don't go expecting too much, or a short wait. Take a book, kindle or something to do. Take something to wipe the table with too.


  1. Flynn said...:

    Lordy, sounds disappointing! Could have been amazing though! Shame.

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