My mum came to visit the other day and we decided to make it special by going to Rick Stein’s fish restaurant in Sandbanks. The idea crossed my mind a few weeks before her arrival so I decided to book a table for one of the nights we would be spending together in Bournemouth.
We have always liked Rick and have watched his programme on several occasions. But we started to love him even more when, about 8 years ago, he visited my hometown Lleida in order to include our famous snail festival in his programme Rick Stein’s Spain. We were so excited we went looking for him on the first day. After walking around for some time we found him preparing one of our regions’ traditional dishes with a group of local people. Once the scene was recorded we got to chat to him for a while and got our photograph taken.
In light of this, I thought the best moment to try out Rick’s restaurant was when my mother came to visit. It is a very niche establishment, medium size and with fantastic views overlooking Poole Harbour. We were kindly invited to pass by and have some drinks before our reservation. We arrived just in time to sit down and admire the beautiful sunset. We were able to enjoy a fantastic background whilst sipping on our beverages and little by little it began to get dark. Even though the seascape was amazing, we all agreed that it may have been better to go for lunch as once the night fell you were not able to see anything.
The service at the restaurant was impeccable, attentive and extremely efficient without being too over the top. The waiters were available at all times and were quick both serving and taking away our plates.
One of my favourite things on this planet is enjoying some simple bread and butter. I do not have it often and I see it as a complete treat that I only have now and then. So, when the waitress placed the sourdough and seed bread with butter in front of us I was the happiest girl on earth. The bread was perfect, with a crunchy crust and a soft and tender crumb. To my surprise, I preferred the seeded bread which had great aroma and flavour.
As a starter to share we decided to go for the steamed mussels. The sauce made with kroeung, a Cambodian spice, coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves had an Indian edge to it. Coming from Spain, I was expecting a completely different dish but I greatly enjoyed the explosion of tastes in my mouth.
Who would not order fish when in one of Rick Stein’s restaurants? I would even say it is mandatory to do so. I was torn between the lemon sole and the pan-fried monkfish. I finally went for the latter and I can assure you that I did not make the wrong decision. This fish had a mild and sweet flavour but was fantastically seasoned, coated with an aromatic fennel and garlic mixture. It was also cooked to perfection as it was tender and flaky. The sauce which had slices of onion gave it a nice finishing touch. This came with a side dish of new potatoes with melted butter on top. I accompanied my fish with a glass of Gewurztraminer Reserva. Fruity and tropical, this wine combined perfectly with my food choice for the night.
My mum went for the dover sole a la meunière which was almost £40 but, in her words, totally worth the money and, after trying a piece of it, I would have to agree with her on that one. Nonetheless, I stuck to my dish which I found to be incredible. Luckily, the waiter offered to fillet it for her as she would not have been able to do it herself.
My partner is not a great fish fan so he went for the ribeye steak, a succulent 10oz piece of meat accompanied by perfectly cooked and seasoned thin chips and a side salad. He greatly enjoyed it and finished every last bit of it.
We were extremely full by the end of our meals and there were no desserts that really caught my eye so we decided to skip pudding and head for some cocktails to the Level8 Skybar at the Hilton.
It was a fantastic evening with good food and a nice ambience. We will definitely be back again as there are other dishes on the menu we would like to try but, next time, we will head there for lunch in order to enjoy the lovely views for longer.