11 July 2015

Seaside Boarding House - Burton Bradstock

I’ve been toying with the idea about whether or not I should blog about my dining experience at the Seaside Boarding House for a few days now. I feel to remain authentic on CBC I need to publish the good and not so good experiences. I’m no restaurant critic, Jay Rayner’s Guardian column is safe! So, here it goes…

Monday was my boyfriend Dan’s birthday and I was set on booking dinner somewhere we both hadn’t eaten before and could enjoy a brand new dining experience together. I decided on booking the Seaside Boarding House at Burton Bradstock. It’s close to where he lives, set on the cliffs along the stunning Jurassic Coast and was a new restaurant on my list of places to try, which should all make for a perfect experience – right?

After reading online reviews from the Guardian, Telegraph and Independent I was convinced that the former care home under the wing of ex London Groucho Club MD Mary-Lou Sturridge and Tony Mackintosh would be the perfect setting for an idyllic, quirky, sophisticated meal. Whilst in reality I was left feeling bemused about the whole experience.

As we winded our way up from the village of Burton Bradstock along Cliff Road we were greeted by two big white buildings. One was our destination for the evening the Seaside Boarding House and the other was singer-songwriter and left wing activist Billy Bragg’s house. After a few windy birthday selfies near the edge of the cliff we headed inside.

A bubbly girl greeted us at the restaurant entrance and asked if we wanted to head to our table or have a drink in the bar. The restaurant seemed fairly busy with a half dozen tables or so filled so far, so we headed to our table. The room was rectangular with huge French windows framing the room on two sides letting the sunshine stream in whilst being able to look out to the spectacular views of the sea. Nautical themed pictures and photos filled any available wall space.

We were seated at the back of the restaurant, which was okay, although after seeing empty seats for the rest of the evening near the windows was a little disappointing as we didn’t get to enjoy the views as much as we liked. Instead it meant we could do some people watching, one of my favourite hobbies! And there were some random types in that night.

The tables were dressed with white linen table cloths topped with a paper crepe style SBH branded table cloth on top. This seemed pretty odd, giving the room a cheap/tacky B&B feel – which wasn’t reflected in the menu and drink prices!

The first incident made me chuckle – nervously! Not one, or two, but four members of staff asked us if we’d like still or sparkling water. This confusing moment between staff over who brings the guests tap water was really the start of where my idealistic idea of a perfect night started to fade away. Once we were delivered our tap water, it was a bit of a struggle to find out if they served anything other than expensive wines or cocktails and spirits. Thankfully there was larger but only a choice of two, we both went for Estrella.

Drinks in hand, we scanned through the menu, and I scanned again. It was very fish orientated, which was always going to be pretty obvious as we’re by the sea. From memory the only non-fishy option was chicken and lamb. I’m not a big fan of lamb as it can be very fatty and I always think you can have chicken at home any day. After a moment where we even toyed about legging it after our drinks, we were asked for our orders. I went for the Lemon Sole and Dan went for the John Dory.

An hour after first arriving at SBH, and munching through some stodgy brown bread, our meals arrived. I had food envy and managed to do an instant swap with Dan. For some reason I didn’t think Lemon Sole would be served quite so big and have bones! In reality I’m a complete fish eater novice. The John Dory came with some cherry tomatoes on the vine which were sweet and tasty. My thoughts on the John Dory was that it was okay, I couldn’t really taste much other than white fish, but it was presented in a pleasant way and didn’t offend me. The Lemon Sole was cooked in a buttery sauce which was gorgeous and actually made me wish I’d not been so hasty with my swap.

After our mains we ordered a quick coffee for the road before heading back to Beaminster for a few birthday drinks. We were pleasantly surprised by the bill which came to just under £60 for 3 beers, 2 coffees and 2 main meals. So, pretty reasonable I’d say. They do add the typical London 12.5% service charge – which we ignored and gave about a £6 tip which is still 10%.

To sum up the Seaside Boarding House, it’s set in the most stunning location and worth the visit just to have a coffee or cocktail on the veranda and take in the Jurassic Coast in all her glory. The food is good, I think there’s still room to improve the menu and it would be helpful to give more of a description on the menu about the way things are cooked and where they’re from. Discovering a fish has been caught only a few miles from the restaurant would have struck a chord with me and plays on the local Dorset story. Service is the only real teething problem and is the one thing that can make or break a place. The staff were all attentive and helpful it’s just frustrating when 4 people ask if you’d like still or sparkling water. Perhaps some training would help. Oh, and the toilets are divine, I totally fell in love with the geo printed floor tiles – so a big thumbs up to the interior design.

Have you recently been to the Seaside Boarding House? What did you think? Would love to hear your experiences.

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