My husband and I were staying in Bournemouth for the weekend for a cycling event around Dorset on the Sunday. We found Gilbey’s Restaurant, which is set inside The Liston Hotel – just two minutes from the Cliff Top Gardens in Boscomb Spa – on Tripadvisor where it is currently positioned at number two out of all the restaurants in Bournemouth. Gilbey’s is an award winning restaurant having two dining awards with the RAC. The hotel has a lovely charm to it, with Victorian patterned floor tiles leading to the rather cosy, carpeted bar area decorated with old antique sewing machines, warm lighting, an old fashioned wood burning fire and soft music being played. We were welcomed by a friendly waitress and we sat in the bar area where we were served some very nice canapés whilst we chose our wine and ordered our meal.
Inside the restaurant it was still very cosy with the soft lighting and music but just a little bit brighter with a ‘newer’ feel to it than the bar. The walls were decorated with pastel murals of beach scenes and the windows had stained glass pictures of ships.
We were served with a pre-starter which was mussels in a buttery, fish sauce. I’ve never had mussels before and not a great fan of fish but I’m becoming more and more adventurous and actually quite enjoyed them. It was served on a very bright and colourful plate with fish around the edges. There was also a selection of fresh home-made bread which was delicious and the butter was spreadable! Don’t you just hate it when you are served with very cold un-spreadable butter? It drives me mad.
For my starter I went for the Gilbey’s tasting plate – a little of everything from the starter menu. Great if you can’t make up your mind or if you want to try something different. There was cream of artichoke & hazelnut soup served in a tall shot glass, chicken liver parfait with toasted brioche & chutney, twice baked smoked haddock & Gruyere cheese souffle (served on a small bed of salad leaves & garnished with some pretty red amaranth), seared scallops with parsnip puree, parsnip crisps & curry oil. My least favourite were the scallops, they were a little chewy (I know I said I don’t normally like fish but I do like scallops). All very well presented and very fresh. The brioche just melted in the mouth.
Again, not being able to choose which dish to have for my main meal I chose the ‘Trio of meats’. This consisted of fillet steak, lamb rump steak and Gressingham duck breast all served with their individual sauces. These meats were separated by a big ‘V’ of piped mashed potato, a novel way of splitting them all up without the sauces running into each other.
The dish was served with a lovely little parcel of fine beans and thinly sliced carrots tied up in what I believe was perhaps a strip of leek? A beautifully presented dish accompanied by fresh broccoli and small roasted tomatoes on the vine. The meats were tender, especially the fillet of beef which when you cut into it was so soft and seemed to melt in my mouth. No chewy gristle of fat here.
And then the desserts! What a shame there wasn’t a tasting platter for the desserts as I couldn’t make up my mind again. Eventually I went for something different, Clafoutis which is very much like a bakewell tart but is a baked French dessert normally served with cherries. This was raspberry, lemon & almond Clafoutis, with red berry ice-cream, with a chilli & lime syrup. The pastry and the sponge of the tart was very light and fresh and as I cut into it with my spoon there was a ‘fresh and warm’ smell coming from the plate. I couldn’t actually taste the lemon or almond, but this didn’t matter one jot as it was delicious. The ice-cream was creamy and had bits of berries in it and the syrup again I couldn’t taste the chilli or lime but it was so nice, I scraped the plate with my spoon trying to get as much of it as I could much to the annoyance of my husband. And just to annoy him even more – and embarrass him – when no one was looking, I even used my finger!
Although rather full by now I just had to have a coffee to end the meal especially as it said that it was served with petit fours. Recently I’d been to another restaurant which said this and I was so disappointed. But not here! The coffee was served with fresh cream (which I’d asked for) and three lovely petit fours, all home-made. One was a very thin and fresh coconut wafer, a florentine and walnut chocolate cake. Excellent!
We drank a beautiful bottle of wine with our meal, Drylands Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011. Superb.
We really enjoyed the evening and the food at Gilbey’s, it really was an excellent and superb meal, the best we have had in a long while and we thoroughly recommend it. The waiter and waitresses were very pleasant as were the other staff we encountered.
So, roll on next year’s hilly cycle ride in Dorset where we shall again stay in Bournemouth (perhaps even in The Liston Hotel itself) and will most definitely eat at Gilbey’s. I can’t wait!
Living life, loving cake – and Gilbey’s