Situated at the heart of the Isle of Wight in the island’s principal town, Newport. Once home to Roman settlers and Norman invaders, it now plays host to elegant squares, a picturesque quay and the annual Isle of Wight Festival, as well as chef Robert Thompson’s first solo restaurant: Thompson’s. A contemporary ‘open kitchen’ restaurant offering a modern British menu inspired by both the flavours of the island and Robert’s own experiences. Compared to the 100 covers at his previous position as chef at The George hotel, this 48-seat venue is smaller scale, but of equal, if not more importance to Robert, as his name now hangs above the door.
This original dining concept features kitchen view tables downstairs with a more intimate atmosphere upstairs. The beautifully restored building has kept many of its original features, including many exposed brick walls and the old wooden beams that were once formed the basis of a local flower shop. The bar and dining room are bathed in a warm glow from modern copper lamps and hanging pendant lights, all in an eclectic mix of styles and designs that complement the mix of brick, wood and painted interiors. This chic design keeps simplicity at its heart, so the diner’s focus is on the action in the kitchen and the food on their plate, rather than in overly fussy designs or details. Equally accessible for a special dinner, casual drinks at the bar, or a lazy lunch, this restaurant will appeal to locals and tourists alike.
Joining Robert as number two at Thompson’s will be Simon Ulph, his sous chef from The Hambrough and The George and a rising star in the culinary world. Together they’ve created a menu based on Robert’s clear culinary style; his menus are typically succinct and both respectful of classic dishes, yet mindful of modern cooking that values lightness and freshness. Rarely serving anything that's too tricky or trendy, serving dishes that you can easily imagine he would enjoy eating himself. With this comes a passion for the locality surrounding him, as he supports many of the rural producers virtually on his doorstep and continues to be an ambassador for food on the Isle of Wight.
Robert says; 'It’s vital to me that guests can identify with the food they are eating – where it’s from, how it was farmed, grown or caught and the ethos behind its presentation.'
Menus available at Thompson’s include an eight course tasting menu designed to take you on a journey through the season’s best ingredients and includes influences from Robert’s cooking career to date, meaning that fusions of classical and contemporary cuisine are finely balanced. There’s also a la carte options and a separate lunch menu to choose from. Start the evening with snacks such as Sussex Slipcote cheese mousse with crispy island beetroot, or Toro pastrami, crispy rye bread and sour white cabbage. Then move through to one of the kitchen view tables or a little quieter table upstairs for dishes such as ceviche of mackerel with cucumber, English wasabi, avocado and ponzu, or roasted local chicken with variations of asparagus and local tomatoes (the island is famous for these). To finish you might find yourself tempted by an aerated milk chocolate and caramelised banana dessert, or a fine selection of regional cheeses.