Bournemouth overflows with family-friendly restaurants and cafés, so choosing a few to sample during a short break can be difficult. Here, we’ve detailed some of our favourites…
This contemporary restaurant is found in BH2, the new leisure complex in the heart of Bournemouth. Its convenient location makes it an ideal stop after visiting the multiplex cinema next door or after a stroll around the town.
It has a large contemporary indoor restaurant plus an attractive outdoor space for al fresco dining, although inclement weather during our short break meant we chose a table inside.
Our visit started well when we were greeted by the friendly staff and offered a pleasant raspberry lemonade welcome drink. It was a nice touch and enticed our two kids to choose this drink to accompany their meals.
The menu was everything you’d expect from a good Italian restaurant with the added advantage of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options; there was also a kids’ menu. Peter particularly enjoyed the Tip and Top Ice Cream where he chose his ice cream, sauce and selection of toppings to sprinkle on.
Staff were very attentive and the meals served promptly. I was especially impressed by the waitress’s reaction when, early on, she asked if my meal was OK. I told her that there was too much garlic for my taste and she immediately offered to supply an alternative without any questions or disapproving looks. That’s something which, unfortunately, can’t be said of every establishment so extra brownie points for Ask!
Overall, we enjoyed a very relaxed evening and would recommend the restaurant. If you do visit, make sure you try the Chocolate Etna. Hot toffee sauce is poured over your dessert at the table while you watch it melt and erupt, revealing a scoop of vanilla gelato and hot chocolate fondant middle. Not to be missed – and forget the calories for one evening!
BH2 Leisure Complex, Exeter Crescent, Bournemouth BH12 5DD
Tel: 01202 035910
The name really does suit this restaurant with its muted lighting and eclectic décor. In fact, it’s hard to believe that just two years ago it was home to retail chain River Island.
The restaurant spreads over three floors, offering a lounge bar area (with games like Scrabble to enjoy), intimate dining and a roof-top terrace for those lazy summer days.
All the walls are adorned with paintings while ceilings are packed with clusters of chandeliers, star-shaped lanterns and, seemingly, every conceivable type of light you can imagine. Whilst the moody low-level lighting complemented the atmosphere, it did make reading the menu a little tricky!
Talking of the menu, it’s varied with brunch and sandwiches served until 5pm, followed by burgers or a three-course dinner menu. There’s a kids’ menu and a decent selection for vegans; they even supplied vegan butter with the bread while almond, oat and soya milk were available with tea/coffee – ideal for us.
Portions were plentiful and, overall, the quality of food good. However, we did find several dishes a little too salty for our taste as we don’t add it to our own cooking, but that’s just personal choice. If we’d known in advance we would have asked them to not use salt and I’m sure they would have happily accommodated us.
34 Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH1 1LG
Tel: 01202 509723
Italian Café (at the Ocean Beach Hotel & Spa)
Conveniently situated within the Ocean Beach Hotel & Spa, this compact restaurant affords lovely views out to sea and boasts a small terrace area for days when the weather is kind.
The contemporary décor and rich palette of golds, purples and greys mean the café exudes a cosiness and it’s a delight to eat here. Rattan furniture provides a Mediterranean feel while the many pictures of Italian Vespa mopeds help set the scene.
The menu offers pizzas, pasta and several fish and meat dishes. However, during less busy times, you can dine here but select from the menu used in the Atlantic Restaurant, located downstairs; a vegetarian and vegan menu is also available plus a kids’ menu.
The staff were friendly, helpful and willing to adapt dishes to suit individual requirements, which is always a plus point, especially when dining with children.
East Overcliff Drive, Bournemouth BH1 3AQ
Tel: 01202 555724
The Kitchen Club (situated at Playgolf Bournemouth)
Even if you aren’t a golf fan, it’s worth visiting The Kitchen Club. You will, however, need a car because it’s a little way from the centre of Bournemouth. Also, we found it a little tricky to find, even with Sat Nav, but that’s probably us!
The café offers relaxed dining with a wonderful view over the fairways, and if you can’t be tempted by a full round of golf, you should definitely test your skills on the Mighty Claws Adventure Golf, just outside the café. It’s great fun and, arguably, the best adventure golf course we’ve ever played on.
The café is open for breakfast and snacks until 12pm followed by a full dinner menu thereafter. There is plenty of choice, including delicious pizzas cooked in a pizza oven to add an authentic touch. In fact, I’d even say it was one of the best pizzas I’ve tasted – and being Valentine’s Day, the chef even designed it in the shape of a heart.
Portion sizes were very good, the food extremely well presented and the staff very friendly so, overall, we’d not hesitate recommending it.
Bournemouth BH7 7ES
Tel: 01202 436436
For further information on Bournemouth, visit www.bournemouth.co.uk