Review of Urban Reef Restaurant in Bournemouth.
There is a whole lot of ‘local’ behind this 50’s inspired beach style restaurant overlooking the sea in Boscombe. Local boy owner Mark Cribb, who also owns the Urban Beach Hotel (which is just up the road from the beach) wanted to provide his guests with good local produce, but struggled to find any, so he just went out and created a farm in the New Forest to grow their own vegetables and fruit.
They also have a new chef Wayne Joyce who has put their new Spring/Summer menus together and we were here to try a few of his dishes from it.
It wasn’t the best of evenings, it had been raining solidly all day and everywhere was a little sodden, even so there were still a few hardy surfers & swimmers enjoying the sea.
Urban Reef is in a refurbished 1950’s beachside Overstrand building and is just a promenade away from the beach. Downstairs is the cafe/bistro where you can swing in off the beach and enjoy a drink, along with some great bistro style food. In the evenings they fire up the wood fired oven and serve pizzas, plus other oven cooked dishes.
Upstairs is the restaurant and the interior is totally 1950’s beach style. We were very warmly welcomed by Olivier and shown to our table, perfectly placed for the best views, right next to window. Outside they have plenty of seating for those hot summer evenings.
The menu concentrates on the great local seafood, but has plenty of meat, vegetarian and vegan dishes to choose from. Of course, lots of locally sourced produce, including a good selection from Hampshire.
Olivier brought over a board of freshly baked breads, hummus, olives & wood fire roasted peppers. To go with this we sampled two ales (Tregonwell & their new one Gulliver) produced by local brewery Eight Arch Brewing in Wimborne. Tregonwell, is an Amercian style beer, well suited to enjoy after a hot day on the beach. Gulliver is more fruity & crisp, ideal to drink in the sunshine.
We were then recommended that we try their Dorset rock oysters from Poole Harbour, served on ice with a strawberry hollandaise sauce and wilted spinach. OMG how does this even work, strawberries & oysters, but it does beautifully. Now I was feeling a little disappointed as I had only ordered two.
Vicky ordered from the special menu her starters of beetroot & Rosary Goat’s Cheese Gnocchi, lemon & roasted hazelnut beurre noisette, with shaved Old Winchester. This was pretty as a picture and inside the wonderful beetroot gnocchi was the creamy goats cheese. The combination of beetroot, crunchy hazelnuts and goats cheese was delightful, Vicky enjoyed this dish a lot.
My starter had to be Dorset Dry Conker Gin & beetroot cured salmon, compressed cucumber, shallot, celeriac remoulade & samphire. The dish looked gorgeous and salmon was cured beautifully, allowing the full flavour of the salmon to shine. It was all bursting with fresh salty sea flavours, with the remoulade adding richness to the dish.
Vicky’s main also from the Specials menu, was bulgar wheat & roasted vegetables, orange braised fennel, mango chilli salsa & watercress. The bulgar wheat was succulent and full of flavour and the mango chilli salsa brought sweetness to the dish. Although the chilli was a little too hot for Vicky, so a Billy bonus for me.
I went for the whole baked plaice, ratatouille & sauté potatoes. The plaice had been expertly boned and as you can see the ratatouille was inside the fish. Which made eating it a little awkward, but an excellent ratatouille & plaice and no one could complain about sauté potatoes this good.
For desserts Vicky had creamy cappuccino panna cotta, chocolate caramelised coffee beans & chocolate ganache and I had the vanilla creme brûlée.. After one spoonful all I could get from Vicky was, hmmm yum ganache…. My brûlée was smooth and rich, maybe a tad sweet for my taste, but I still emptied the plate.
We were both extremely impressed with Urban Reef, it’s ethos, it’s use of locally sourced food and when it’s unavailable you just go and grow your own. Also friendly and cheerful service from Olivier and Roberta, which all made the night a special one.
So dig out your surf shorts, head down to Urban Reef and sample some of their great food.
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Urban Reef Restaurant
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