It was my Mum's birthday on Bank Holiday Monday, so we decided to drive down to Sandbanks on the south coast and have lunch at Rick Stein's new seafood restaurant there. It's been open for a few months now but every time we've tried to go before they've been completely full, so this time we made sure to book in advance. We picked up my brother and his girlfriend enroute as they live down there, and we had such an incredible lunch, so I thought I'd tell you all about it...
Because we were taking Dylan with us (he loves the beach), we had to sit in the 'bar', but really it was just the same as the restaurant but with a view of the road and car park instead of a view of the water of Poole Harbour...I was a bit sad about this and told Dylan he couldn't come next time, but I soon got over it when I took a look at the menu and basically saw a menu full of my favourite seafood dishes.
The bar/restaurant itself was light, airy, and beautiful with little seaside touches everywhere...it was also huge. However despite its size it felt very relaxed and not at all hectic and 'rushed' like a lot of big restaurants. I did have a peek at the main restaurant, and it was a little more formal than the bar, with white table cloths and that gorgeous view that you can see at the top of this post!
As it was Mum's birthday we started with aperitifs, and then moved on to a bottle of Cornish rose sparkling wine. I decided to go for a non-alcoholic cocktail, a CJ's Fruit Cocktail, which was lemonade with lychee and lime. It was super refreshing and really tasty, and would be so perfect on a hot summer's day after a morning on the beach! Mum had some sort of orange concoction.
For starters my brother and I both chose the delicious sashimi platter, with salmon, bass, tuna, and scallops. I don't eat salmon as it's one food I just can't stomach, so Dad ate my salmon. The rest of the sashimi I wolfed down and despite the tuna being a little too salty, it was delicious and all tasted incredibly fresh.
Mum had the Crab Wakame, and Dad had the mussels.
My brother's girlfriend Hannah had the hot smoked salmon salad, but she was sat across the table opposite me and it was a bit of a stretch to get a photo so I didn't photograph any of her food! For mains Dad and Chris had the Ray, with a side of potatoes and veggies.
Mum had the Indonesian Seafood Curry, but it wasn't very photogenic so I didn't get a photo. Hannah had the Lamb which looked delicious! We'd popped open the bottle of Cornish sparkling wine by this point, and enjoyed it immensely! It wasn't quite as good as Nyetimber (which was on the menu...for a pretty penny of £90), but was still pretty darn good.
I decided to have two starters as my main; the Seabass Ceviche, and the Cooked Scallops. However I asked for a main portion of the scallops, which meant I got five scallops instead of two.
The seabass ceviche was delicious, the fish was so fresh and I loved the zesty dressing and the red onion, tomato, avocado and chilli. Thankfully the chillies weren't too hot as I'm not particularly good with spicy food.
The scallops were beautifully fresh too and really nice and plump and cooked perfectly.
When it came to dessert I couldn't decide between the Gingerbread Pudding or the Marmalade Cheesecake, but in the end the Cheesecake won, and I'm so glad it did. Arriving with a generous portion of blood orange granita, it was seriously refreshing and very light. The cheesecake wasn't too large and filled me up nicely without making me feel all stodgy and sick.
Mum chose the Bitter Chocolate Custard with honeycomb mousse, which was far more interesting than it sounds! She absolutely loved it and described it as a 'crunchie bar as a dessert'.
All of our food was excellent, and we couldn't fault any of our dishes. The only disappointment was the service, which was a little hit and miss. We had about five different members of staff try to open our bottle of sparkling wine for us, when we'd asked for it to be opened when the food arrived as we were still drinking our aperitifs.
And before 1pm the staff couldn't do enough for us, but as soon as the restaurant started to fill up we barely saw any of the waitresses and waiters again aside from when they brought our food/cleared our plates/gave us our bill. After our starters, for the rest of the meal, no one asked if we'd like any more drinks, and there were a couple of times when we had to go to the bar to ask them to refill our jug of water.
We really did love our visit to Rick Stein at Sandbanks, it was a true seafood lover's dream and I'm so glad we finally went, but I think the service really needs to improve when they're charging those sorts of prices (it cost us around £60pp for 3 courses, drinks, and service). The thing I was really disappointed with though? NONE of us had fish and chips! I'm gonna have to go back just to try the fish and chips.