Upper Deck restaurant, Christchurch Harbour Hotel

Upper Deck restaurant, Christchurch Harbour Hotel

A three course lunch @ Upper Deck restaurant, Christchurch Harbour Hotel

The Christchurch Harbour Hotel sits on the Dorset coast, very close to my home. Yet I’d not dined there before, let alone written a review of the Upper Deck restaurant at Christchurch Harbour Hotel.

That all changed when I was lucky enough to have lunch there recently. 3 delicious courses, with 3 glasses to wash it down, while we gazed out upon Christchurch harbour. The view from the hotel is unique, there being no others along this stretch of coastline. Even though I’d lived in the area for many years, I hadn’t previously seen Hengistbury Head (aka Mudeford Sandbank) and its infamously expensive beach huts, from this exact perspective.

Make time for a drink at the bar, before or after dinner

To begin

To start, I ordered the crab croquettes. According to the menu, Alex Aitken, who heads up the kitchen team, had served these to Janet Street-Porter on TV – rendering her speechless. A mean feat, indeed. The other must-try entree was the twice baked cheese souffle – something of a signature dish of Aitken’s – so my companion opted for that.

We were suitably impressed. The crab croquettes were delightfully crunchy on the outside and deliciously salty within; combined with the accompanying salad they were a work of art for the palate. As for the souffle, it certainly didn’t disappoint; it was perfectly risen and utterly delicious.

Alex Aitken’s signature twice baked cheese souffle

A fishy affair

So, onto the main event. It was a difficult decision, but I plumped for Pork and Prawn, while my friend chose the Hake. The former was cooked Chinese style, with sweet and sour sauce, egg fried rice, and pak choi. I can honestly say that it was the best piece of pork that I’ve ever had – it was so meltingly tender and flavoursome.

As for my my colleague’s fish dish, it looked sublime – a soft white fish fillet beneath a crumb and herb crust, sat atop a bed of mussels and new potatoes. I sampled a mussel, and agreed with her fully that it was the finest I’ve ever tasted. The rest was pretty perfect, too, I was assured as it was hastily devoured.

Main meals with a seaside twist at the ocean view Upper Deck

To finish (us off)

Really, we were too full for pudding, but decided we simply had to squeeze in a little something. I opted for the banana split, as it sounded lovely and light, while my chum chose a seasonal sweet tart. Mine was simply scrumptious and I didn’t leave a scrap. My companion left a little of hers, mainly because she was very full, but we did proclaim it the weakest dish of the meal. In saying so, though, we are being supremely picky. The food was superb and to such a high standard, as was the service.

A banana split is a typical seaside dessert

Staying over

We’ll be back. Where else can you experience this view, for one thing? Unless you’re fortunate enough to own a home in this exact spot, you simply will not. As for the food, it was beautifully presented and served, and extremely palate-pleasing. If you live in the area – lucky you. If not, make a weekend of it – the hotel provides complimentary gin and sherry in the rooms, and hires kayaks and stand-up paddle boards to residents for free. Supping and SUPing – it sounds ideal to me. After a meal at the Upper Deck restaurant, Christchurch Harbour hotel seems the ideal place by the sea to lay your head.

You can see current rates & reviews for the highly recommended Christchurch Harbour Hotel HERE.

You can read more of my restaurant reviews in the Food Stories category.

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