Gifts from the Isle of Wight
Recipes from the Isle of Wights legendary chef
Only four months after taking over as head chef he had won the second Michelin star of his career, making his the only such restaurant on the island. The Hambrough was also named 26th best restaurant in Britain in the Good Food Guide. In addition, he ran the hotel’s two AA rosette sister restaurant, The Pond Café, so described in The Guardian: “Don’t be deceived by the name: it’s a serious restaurant, not a casual caff. From the homemade bread to the petit fours, everything was perfect.”
His menus here were rich with local fish and seafood, with The Independent describing his food as “composed with an unshowy confidence that signals a chef reconnecting with his ingredients at source, and delighting in their quality.” Such dishes included delicate canapés like Citrus-cured sea bass on blinis with ossetra caviar and crème fraiche, accomplished signature dishes of Pressed smoked eel with foie gras, roast pork belly and caramelised Granny Smith apple and delicately flavoured mains like Pan-roasted turbot cooked on the bone with fennel croquettes and Pernod velouté. Meat and game were also featured, as with his Roasted loin of New Forest venison with snails, roasted chervil root and field mushroom purée, and Slow-cooked island pork belly with local lobster and cep cannelloni. And to finish, his Banana and caramel parfait with peanut ice cream and kalamansi citrus purée, and his Baked pineapple and ginger cake with muscovado sugar and mascarpone sorbet were said to be particularly mouth-watering.
In 2014 he took another hotel position at The George, also on the island, keen to gain further experience and explore other parts of the industry. Not quite ready to open his own restaurant, a long-standing ambition, he continued to produce the seasonal delights that made him famous.
Leaving about a year later, finally able to open his own restaurant, his chosen location is currently undergoing refurbishment for its opening in summer 2015. Located in Newport, still on the island he has made his home, he says that his new 48-seat enterprise will attempt to “bridge the gap between bistro and overly exclusive restaurants”, continuing:“as a chef who just loves to cook and be creative it has always been my dream to have my own place and now it’s here and happening. I am absolutely buzzing!”
His individual cooking style now firmly developed – reflecting both his training in classical kitchens and the lightness and freshness of modern dining – Robert Thompson’s inventive dishes and intense flavours will be soon be showcased afresh. He says: “I love the Island and can’t wait to be back in the kitchen cooking for my customers and friends.”