Situated in a beautiful old Church in Westbourne lies Plates & Co, an independent restaurant with a unique, yet simple concept. Their head chef, Nick – who also happens to be the owner – believes that great produce should be allowed to shine without too many frills or flavours – cooking each dish from scratch according to the diners preference. Each guest is given a choice of fish, chicken, steak, lamb, duck, linguine or risotto, which they can then mix and match to their sauce and 2 side ‘plates’. This concept provides a really flexible but delicious menu for all taste-buds and (me included) various intolerances and special diets.
We had a wonderful waitress who took my dietary requirements on board and talked me through the menu quite extensively, rather than treating me as a nuisance (which is often how I feel when I dine out and have to reel through the list of things I can’t eat). There were a couple of things I fancied trying which do usually contain butter, but since everything is prepared and cooked by Nick fresh – this could be removed and made specifically without for me. This was done with no fuss, which might seem like a simple thing for some – but for me, it put my mind at complete ease and made me feel really welcome.
The appetiser menu follows suit for the ‘plates & co’ concept, choosing either olives, bread or nibbles & nuts – which you then have several options to try out flavour wise.
Sion went for the olive platter, opting for chilli & garlic, curried and herb marinades.
I was pleasantly surprised to find some delicious nibbles I could enjoy, choosing the tortilla chips, potato chips and vegetable crisps, the latter of which was freshly fried in the kitchen itself and oh so amazing. I absolutely adore shop bought vegetable crisps but these were on another level – 100 times better than any I’d tasted before!
The main showcase was steak for Sion, with peppercorn sauce, hand-cut chips and cheesy gratin. At £18.50 for the 10oz with 2 sides, this was a really reasonable price for such a large piece of meat – and two beautifully cooked accompaniments. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to give my own verdict on the cheesy gratin, as it contained it’s fair share of dairy but the chips were incredible.
I opted for the chicken, cooked to perfection in roasting jus with carrots and yet another portion of hand-cut chips (we were really pleased we didn’t have to share as they were the best in the business!).
Although Sion had to help me finish the chicken, we both still had room for dessert – another mix and match attempt with some very tempting offers. I was really happy that I had a selection of non dairy dessert items to choose from, as usually everything is laden with cream and custard.
Sticky toffee pudding with custard and sticky toffee pudding flavour ice cream for Sion…
And seasonal berries and pineapple sorbet for me. Mmm…
If you’re looking for somewhere unique to go for dinner in Bournemouth, fed up of all the same kind of things that the chains serve and in the mood for a really special venue, this is definitely a place to try. The food is all very reasonably priced, beautifully presented and of course, delicious. My chicken was £13.50, inclusive of two sides which is the same sort of price (or less) of any typical chain – yet here, you’re getting something that has been cooked specifically for you, to your specifications in the sauce you choose. I love the mix and match concept, as it’s simple but allows you to play around with flavours – creating your perfect dish, for the perfect evening.
They also have a little downstairs outdoor area serving street food and cocktails throughout the day – so whether it’s a lunchtime catch-up or an evening date you’re in the market for, I’d certainly recommend taking a look at their website.
Plates & Co, 16 Landseer Road, Bournemouth, BH4 9EH (01202 765696)