South coast foodie revolution: beach restaurants put Bournemouth on the map
Foodies look no further: six new beach restaurants are elevating one British seaside town’s dining and drinking experience to that of a Mediterranean coastal resort.
Whether it’s a rustic laid-back family dining experience or a modern Ibiza-style vibe, these seafront restaurants along Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s award-winning coastline are helping the region stick its flag in the sand as a leading tourist destination.
The ventures are all part of a plan to regenerate the seafront and boost the hospitality sector post pandemic.
The latest development will see Bayside Restaurant Bar & Grill open from Monday 1 August until Tuesday 30 August between Bournemouth and Boscombe piers, serving everything from fish and chips to Portland pearl oysters, locally sourced lobster and West Country quality ribeye steak.
Along at Southbourne, SOBO Beach aims to bring some international flavour to the seafront with its chilled music and brightly coloured double decker bus come bar overlooking a beach that’s regularly filled with surfers, families and students alike.
Just up from Bournemouth Pier at West Cliff, W Beach has a relaxed Ibiza-style vibe. On the east-side of Bournemouth Pier, Aruba’s Sunset Beach Club offers cocktails and more in the shadow of the town’s Big Wheel and at East Cliff, El Murino’s beach restaurant serves up pizzas and drinks.
Along at Boscombe, Urban Reef Restaurant, is a popular seaside bar and restaurant with decking spreading onto the beach. On the other side of the pier, the Beach Diner offers sandy-toed seating for patrons of nearby Prom Diner offer.
Meanwhile along in Poole, two cafes and four kiosks in Sandbanks and Branksome Chine are to be turned into a Rockwater Village, modelled on the Rockwater operation at Hove, Brighton.
The sites would provide a venue for events from yoga to poetry, comedy or chess, alongside family restaurants and upmarket entertainment.
All of the restaurants offer a picture-perfect view of the Isle of Wight to the left and the Jurassic coast to the right, with lifeguarded beaches dotted between and all a stone’s throw from further culinary delights beyond the beach.
Visitors who want to work up an appetite before dining out at one can try Who Dares Gyms, which is offering open air classes and training sessions at East Cliff.
Craig Mathie, Bournemouth 7s MD and Chair of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s Destination Management Board, said: “These developments are a key part of a concerted effort to animate our beautiful seafront destination, adding to the amazing range of activities there are across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
“It’s great to see so many people and organisations working together to create outstanding alfresco beach restaurants and experiences to sit alongside the truly wonderful natural environments.”
Bridport-born chef Gideon Hitchin will be manning the kitchen at Bayside Restaurant Bar & Grill.
He said: “This is a very different concept for Bournemouth beach – we’re offering relaxed vibes with good food – you could literally go for a swim between courses.”
Over the past decade, there has been a migration of Londoners to places such as Margate, but the last twelve months has seen a huge influx to Bournemouth with its seven miles of sandy beaches – the best in the UK and the 5th best in Europe according to a Trip Advisor – visitors poll.
The new five-star Nici Hotel sets a new tone for Bournemouth and plans have been unveiled for a new Ivy in the town centre. With more tech start-ups than London, a thriving Arts University, a blossoming arts scene with Festival Coast Live! and Arts by the Sea, it’s proving itself as a thriving vibrant coast.