Ventana Grand Cafe, Bournemouth

Ventana Grand Cafe, Bournemouth

Lunch by the sea

A treat, for me

What a treat. I was so looking forward to dining at Ventana Grand Cafe, as Mister and I had, six years previously, spent our tenth wedding anniversary at the lovely Cumberland Hotel on East Overcliff Drive, in which Ventana is situated. It’s one of my favourite hotels in Bournemouth.

Just the sight of the Cumberland hotel is special enough to lift the spirits. The neat, white facade of this landmark art deco hotel is very inviting, as is the clear blue swimming pool right out front. I’d have been tempted to dip a toe in the water, if it wasn’t a cold, wet and gloomy March day.

Ventana grand cafe Bournemouth
Art Deco style at the Cumberland Hotel

Art Deco style

You can just imagine the place in summer; people dotted in and around the pool, enjoying a swim or a cocktail. The feel of the sun on their skin and sight of the sea beyond, glimmering with promise. Perhaps awaiting the Red Arrows – what a spot from which to view the annual Bournemouth ir show, especially if blessed with sunny weather.

Sunshine or no, the Cumberland hotel restaurant is a lovely place to be. Architecturally, for me there’s a nod to colonial style on the outside; the interior though, is a shrine to the art deco era and it’s beautifully done. We enjoyed a drink in the lounge area before taking to our table, and it was a pleasure to sit in such stylish surroundings, soaking up the atmosphere of excitement around the midweek wedding that was about to take place.

A pew with a view

We chose a table by the window; all the better to soak up those wonderful sea views – and the little hint of sunshine that was finally starting to peep through the clouds. Then, it was time to sample the food that we’d chosen while sipping our pre-dinner drinks.

None of us went for starters – we’d been advised that the puddings simply has to be sampled and, having a sweet tooth, I was happy to hold out for those. I selected the Fish and Chips – on seeing the sea it just had to be done – and my friends plumped for Lamb and Lasagne.

Ventana Bournemouth
Open lasagne at Ventana Grand Cafe

Seafood, lamb & pasta

Now I say fish, lamb and lasagne – but such simple titles don’t really do the delicious dishes justice. All three were exquisite in presentation as well as flavour. My ‘fish and chips’ were actually battered monkfish, tempura king prawns and cod goujons, served with the most delicious pea puree I’ve ever tasted. The chips were chunky indeed – and phew – cooked through perfectly. The cherry on top was the charred half a lemon served on the side – a simple addition, but the chargrilling added another dimension of flavour and having an entire half was just so much nicer than having to squeeze every last drop from a smaller wedge of citrus fruit.

My companions loved their menu choices too. The Yorkshire pudding served with the lamb dish was a sight to behold, and the dish encompassed lamb three ways – shepherd’s pie, hotpot and – of course – toad in the hole. The open lasagne with provencal vegetables was very easy on the eye indeed – poetry on a plate.

A little extra something

Portions were generous, so we were a little too full for pudding. A real shame – if we hadn’t just ordered two anyway. Our waiter recommended the pavlova and cheesecake to share between the three of us. Frankly, the lovely pavlova would have sufficed – a generous confection of sweet, crunchy meringue sandwiched between cream and adorned with berries. It looked almost too good to eat – but somehow, we managed it. The white chocolate and ginger cheesecake was delicious, too, and we made light work of them both.

Ventana Grand Cafe menu
Something sweet to finish

Ventana Grand Cafe

What really made the meal – other than the very memorable food, of course – was the setting. The sea view, yes; but not only that. The service was helpful while not being intrusive and there was a genuinely happy, relaxed vibe about the place. I don’t think it will be another six years before I return to Ventana; there’s other dishes I intend to try long before that. Not to mention a very tempting cocktail list… and afternoon tea too.

The Cumberland is a lovely place to stay, as well as being home to one of the best Bournemouth restaurants. Find out more – including reviews and room rates, HERE.

Bournemouth, along with neighbouring Poole and Christchurch in Dorset, have some of the UK’s best beaches – find out more HERE. There are also more local restaurant reviews HERE.

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