The Orrery Cafe

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The Orrery Cafe


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Review of "The Orrery Cafe"

published 13/02/2007 | amytheduck
Member since : 07/02/2007
Reviews : 80
Members who trust : 13
About me :
Pro Great setting, friendly staff, nice food
Cons Not very many tables
very helpful
Value for Money
Standard of Menu
Standard of Service

"A Cafe with Character"

The Orrery

The Orrery

Picture the scene: It's coming up to eleven in the morning, you're halfway up Union Street Ryde and looking for somewhere to have a nice cup of tea and a cake.

Of course, on the Isle of Wight, you're never far from a cafe, and in Ryde that's especially true. There are no lack of teashops along the seafront and in the main shopping area, but if you want something more than your bogstandard cafe, then you should definitely pay a visit to The Orrery.


The Orrery Cafe was opened with the main aim of making enough money to open a Globe Museum on the same location. The owner of the cafe is a globe maker, and many of his creations can be seen in the cafe itself.


The Orrery is located about halfway up Union Street in Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, and attracts your interest almost straight away with the giant golden grasshopper that sits atop the roof, and the painted globe hanging above the doorway.

It's a short walk from Ryde's seafront, although as you'll know if you've been to the town, nowhere is very far from the sea! There are car parks on the sea front, and further up in the town centre.

Ryde also has a train station, and many Island bus connections.


The interior is what makes The Orrery different from every other cafe, and it's truly wonderful. Upon entering the cafe, the first thing that catches your eye is the back wall, dotted with circular glass fronted alcoves containing model planets.

Then, looking upwards, you see the intricate Orrery itself, with the sun at the centre and the planets of our solar system on arms at various intervals. I'll talk more about this later.

Next, the most spectacular thing of all - the wallpaper. The walls and ceiling are papered with an Alice in Wonderland theme, however there is a difference. The characters we all know and love from the book make up a unique map of the night sky, there's tweedle dum and tweedle dee taking the place of the constellation Gemini, the DoDo, Alice herself and a whole host of other characters. The illustrations and labels are interspersed with tiny lights, meant to represent stars.

The food counter looks classy and modern, and the shelves behind it are lined with many different globes - including the Alice in Wonderland globe the wallpaper is based on.

There are approximately nine or ten tables of varying sizes, as well as a 'breakfast bar' lining one of the walls. The tables are mirror topped, with the idea being that when The Orrery is set going, and the stars are lit, you look down into the mirrored table top to get the best view.

It's quite hard to describe in words just how pleasant the interior of The Orrery is, and how exquisite the wallpaper looks up close.

There are only a few tables, which could be a problem at busy times.

**Food and Drinks**

The Orrery is primarily a cafe, so don't go and expect to be served with a three course meal. I believe they do light lunches, but the main trade are teas, coffees and cakes.

I've been to The Orrery twice and both times the cakes have been delicious. The first time, I opted for a Hot Chocolate and a chocolate brownie - both of which were very nice. The second time, I had a fruit smoothie (freshly made), and I very much recommend it.

The pricing is a little more than if you went elsewhere, but the setting and friendly service more than makes up for this.


Upon entering, you find a table and peruse the menu to your leisure. Once you've chosen what you want, you need to go to the counter and place your order.

The waitress will then get what you've ordered, and bring it over to your table when it's ready. Cutlery and suger etc. is at the end of the counter and you collect that yourself.

Both times I visited, the waitress was extremely friendly and more than happy to answer our questions about the cafe, The Orrery and the plans for the Globe Museum.

The second time we visited, she even gave us a free print of Ryde seafront, even though that would usually have only been given out to customers ordering a lunch.

My sister suffers from a nut allergy, and she was very patient when we explained this and asked if the cakes contained nut products. The service at The Orrery is definitely service with a smile.

**The Orrery Model**

This was a great feature of the cafe, and if you have children I'm sure they'd love it. To make The Orrery model work, you need to give a donation of 20p a time, which I believe makes the model run for one minute.

You put the money into a machine, and you can see it spiral down, and then The Orrery starts up. The hundreds of little stars come on, and then the planets start rotating. The model is to scale, so some of the planets look as though they're not moving at all, or only very slightly.

If you do as they recommend and look into the surface of your table, you can definitely see the stars better although dependant on the location of your table you might not be able to see the model itself.


There are toilets on the premises, however to access them you need to go down a small spiral staircase. I'm not sure if there are facilities for disabled people.

There are two toilets down the stairs, and I don't think there was a distinction between male and female. The toilets were very clean, however there is a mirror on the ceiling which is quite disconcerting!

As I said before, there is limited seating, and so at busy times you might not get a table.

Although we didn't actually do this, the waitress informed us that on Wednesday afternoons/evenings, they have a 'blackout afternoon', where they pull down the curtains on the front windows, and you can experience The Orrery and the stars all lit up. She told us that that looks great and is a popular feature.


Overall, I highly recommend The Orrery if you're looking for a cafe in Ryde. It's a cafe with character, something you don't find in many of the generic cafe's these days. The Orrery model itself is great to see, and a good talking point.

The wallpaper is fantastic - even if you sit there for hours I doubt if you'll notice all of the little details. The globes on display are interesting, and if it's quiet, ask the waitress about the cafe and what their aim is.

On the back of the menu there's a printed history of the cafe, as well as why the wallpaper is Alice in Wonderland themed.

I've been to The Orrery twice now, first during my summer holiday in August and again in October, and I will definitely be going back again!

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Comments on this review

  • reg1971 published 09/03/2007
    Great comprehensive review, if ever in need of a cup of tea and slice of cake in Ryde i shall check it out, reality check. (that is never going to happen) great review though
  • Julieshobs published 14/02/2007
    sounds lovely great review. Jules.
  • grafter123 published 14/02/2007
    Sounds wonderful and you sell it well...........eiley
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Product Information : The Orrery Cafe

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Product Details

Type: Cafe


Listed on Ciao since: 13/02/2007