Although there are several restaurants in Bournemouth with a rather spectacular view to accompany the menu, none are quite as incredible as West Beach, with it’s prime location on the beach front – face to face with the sand and the sea. Mussel-ing (excuse the pun) in on a primary theme, seafood is the focal point of the menu – with whole lobster and crustacean platters on offer. So, with the Bournemouth Wheels Festival on this weekend and a scheduled firework display at 10pm, Sion and I decided to book a table and see what the fuss was all about.
As a mid-price point menu, West Beach has a significantly different clientele then most of it’s surrounding peers, with far more local diners and a much quieter, yet chilled atmosphere. The drinks menu offers a variety of lovely cocktail concoctions and the wine list is very extensive, offering accompaniments to the most specific of dishes. I opted for a ‘Cinderella’ – strawberry, raspberries and prosecco – in my opinion, the perfect start to any evening.
I am a huge seafood fan and so was delighted to see that the menu offered a whole host of fish dishes, cooked in a variety of ways to suit all palettes and taste buds. Scallops, which is an all time favourite of mine, was offered with pea puree and crispy parma ham and ordered without any hesitation, whilst Sion opted for mussels in white wine sauce.
Out of all of the restaurants I have visited which offer scallops, each one seems to have a very different way of approaching them. Although the West Beach version wasn’t unpleasant – and was indeed complimented by the parma ham – the scallops themselves were a little chewy for me and the pea puree accompaniment was quite a large helping – giving it a rather sunken appearance. I haven’t ever attempted cooking them myself, so I’m not sure whether the problem was undercooking or overcooking, however I would say (if I’m being picky) that I prefer a ‘fall apart’ melt in the mouth consistency over the former. Sion’s mussels were perfectly cooked, with a deliciously creamy white wine sauce – the latter of which I snuck a taste of myself.
After a slightly disappointing starter, I was excited for our mains – which we had ordered rather overzealously – yet luckily we were hungry. My dish of choice was pan fried gnocchi with fennel pesto, spinach, ricotta cheese and peas, with a side of fries and cauliflower cheese. The gnocchi was unlike any other I’ve tasted before, soft, chewy and perfectly cooked, complimented by the spinach and peas (however slightly overpowered by the fennel pesto – which is placed in the centre, so can be added or subtracted depending on your preferences). I’m not usually a fan of green centric dishes (they look far too healthy for me) however this was ‘superfood’ at it’s very best and was thoroughly enjoyed. The fries were brought over by the bucket load (much to Sion’s delight) and are nothing but a delicious accompaniment to all the incredible seafood on offer.
Sion went for the chilled langoustines, with spicy rice and hand cut chips. Although slightly intimidating looking (in my opinion), he powered through the langoustines – stopping occasionally for a hand cut chip break. The spicy rice, he said, was a little on the watery side however the majority of his main was absolutely incredible and well worth the £17.50 price tag.
Ever the pudding fiend, the dessert menu was by far my favourite part of the evening – with an array of amazing sounding delights on offer. After much deliberation (and I mean MUCH deliberation), I finally decided on the chocolate brownie, with popcorn, chocolate sauce and clotted cream whilst Sion chose the Banoffee Eton Mess.
Luckily, they arrived at the table just in time to accompany the amazing firework display taking off outside, where we had the best seats in the house. The brownie was out of this world amazing – warm and gooey, yet crumbly and rich all at the same time – the popcorn gave it a bit of added bite and the clotted cream was a welcome alternative to the usual ice cream offering. Sion didn’t say a word throughout his Banoffee Eton Mess, which is a sure fire way to assume it matched my brownie in terms of taste.
Overall, we had a lovely evening at West Beach. It is a higher price tag than the majority of restaurants in the area, but justifiably so, with impeccable, friendly and welcoming service and an unrivalled, stunning location. If you’re in the area any time soon, make sure you give it a try.