review by Adam Trimby
West Beach, situated to the west of Bournemouth Pier, was voted “Britains 4th best place to eat seafood by the sea” in the The Times. Reviewer Adam Trimby, along with photographer Louis Pulford, delved into the delights of their fantastic cuisine from both land and sea.
As we walked along the promenade, breathing in the frosty winter’s air, the thought of a beautifully cooked meal at the end of the journey heightened our appetites. Upon entering West Beach, Louis and I both knew that our adventure was only just beginning. The manager, Safi, greeted us at the door and his warmth gave us the all clear to dive into the sizzling shelter West Beach had to offer. After showing us to our table, through a maze of candlelight that gave the impression of beach-lit campfires, he introduced us to our waiter for the evening, Tony.
Surprised at the fact neither of us were in the drinking mood that evening, Tony happily went off to grab us a couple of soft drinks before going through the menu. In his absence, Louis and I pored over each dish, considering how many courses our stomachs could handle – our hearts wanted the lot. Tony returned after what seemed like mere seconds and tackled any of our questions with faultless precision and adept knowledge. We learnt that the menu changes seasonally, so varies throughout the year. However, when it came to ordering, there wasn’t much of a decision for us to make.
Starting us off strong, Louis opted for the Mussels in a Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce, which we would argue is highly recommended over the classic moules marinière. I laid my finger to rest on the Homemade Ravioli of Confit Duck in Chicken Broth and I was sold instantly.
Our meals arrived promptly and were sublime in their own right, each having very different flavours. The ravioli was light and brilliantly subtle in taste, while the mussels were in a category all of their own. Having never eaten mussels in any other style than the classic white wine way, this rich and cheesy take on the dish was utterly superb. The creamy sauce could have been a soup all of its own.
Afterwards Tony removed our plates but not the smiles from our faces. He tentatively checked whether we were comfortable and if our drinks were full before leaving to tell Marcin, the Head Chef, that we were ready for the main event.
Louis decided to go for something from the specials menu, which happened to be the Whole Catch of the Day served with Hollandaise Sauce and Mixed Vegetables. I couldn’t help but elect for the Pan-Roasted Venison with Oyster Mushrooms and Glazed Root Vegetables, Truffled Parsnip Purée and Port Jus. It’s not often one gets to eat venison and every opportunity must be taken without hesitation.
Our choices made, all we had to do was wait.
The marvellous view gave us a wonderful accompaniment to our flowing conversation. The huge windows facing straight out to La Manche delivered a wondrous spectacle of waves bounding towards our small island. Even in the black of winter, the illumination of Bournemouth Pier was a delightful piece of scenery to match our delicious looking main courses.
Louis’s Whole Catch of the Day was a beautifully cooked sea bass, covering the whole plate. It was decorated with a slice of lemon and a shell of Hollandaise sauce and accompanied by a good selection of vegetables. Louis remarked how soft the fish was and how it was “cooked to perfection.” I was somewhat envious of Louis to begin with but this idea swept away with the sea when the glory that was my venison came out to the table.
There are many who say one shouldn’t use clichés or repeat words and phrases too often in reviews, but if there was a theme to this evening then ‘cooked to perfection’ is all Louis and I could state at the time.
All four courses were prepared with the utmost precision and beyond the contemporaneous taste-sensations. Neither Louis nor I left even the slightest bit of the sauce on our plates, which were mopped up by our Neolithic tendencies to order a side of French fries with such a delectable meal.
Fed to the extreme, it was time for our finale – a round of desserts from the exceptional dessert menu. Our waiter, Tony, asked with caution whether we would be staying for afters, and both of us cried an emphatic, “yes!”
Louis went for the Dark Chocolate Fondant with Hazelnuts and Rum and Raisin Ice Cream. It looked incredible when Louis cut into the oozing pudding and the sauce flowed out onto the rest of the plate. It was a rich and warm way to end the evening. I selected the Dorset Apple Tarte Tatin with Brandy Cream as my weapon of choice and it did not let me down. The sharpness of the apples along with a boozy cream was, for me, the best way to end what had been a spread worthy of royalty.
And so, our evening had finished. Louis and I left after warm farewells, out into the cold to face a walk back to the car. However, the impeccable food, the quality of the service and the overall atmosphere of West Beach left us with such fabulous feelings through our bodies and in our minds that we glided along the promenade wishing we could eat there more often.
Ten out of ten for me. Can’t do any better than that.