One of the Inovative Dishes on Offer at Rick Stein Sandbanks
Recently we were in the magical county of Cornwall where we were fortunate enough to time our visit with an unprecedented period of sunshine filled days. To be precise we were in Trebrethrick only a few miles from Rock and a short boat trip across the Camel estuary to Padstow, now fondly known as Padstein due to the predominance of Rick Stein eateries. However, sadly for us on this trip we were unable to try any of Rick Stein’s emporia but on our return we travelled to Sandbanks in Dorset to try the latest establishment in his burgeoning empire.
Is it just me or are others bewildered why the mega wealthy are drawn to Sandbanks? I know the beach is particularly sandy and wide but the surrounding properties jostle to outdo one another resulting in one monstrous mansion after another so that Sandbanks now commands one of the highest house prices in the world. Only Manhattan and Tokyo can boast property with a higher cost per square metre. So it is absolutely understandable why Rick Stein should add Sandbanks to his ever increasing eateries as this restaurant is destined to become the new ‘Canteen’ for these very affluent residents.
This reminds me of my comment on being in Monte Carlo and suggesting that to live there is God’s punishment for having more money that taste.
However to return to our reason for battling to Sandbanks through the Bournemouth traffic, and that was to have lunch at ‘Rick Stein Sandbanks’.
First impressions are pleasing and its dual outlook make it one of the best positions in Sandbanks. It is a large restaurant capable of seating 200 and its style is very chic with plenty of glass, slate and metal used to create a sophisticated ambience. At the front is a bar and, as is typical now, you walk past an open kitchen, overseen by Rick’s middle son, Jack, to the rear of the restaurant. This is decorated in duck-egg blue and light blond wood furniture with tables dressed in crisp white tablecloths and napkins with large modern art work on the walls and there is a most impressive view over the yacht club and Poole Harbour.
Seated at a table by an attentive member of staff we were presented with a large menu, only in size, filled with delicious sounding dishes making it difficult to chose between classic fish dishes such as lobster thermidor or to try something a little more exotic like Black Cuttlefish Risotto. Looking around for inspiration, we could not fail to notice the number of tables that were occupied, by an assortment of age groups and types, from well coiffured ladies to what we can only guess were footballers and their partners. On many of the tables, the chosen, show-off dish was the splendid Fruits de Mer platters presented in the French style with a cornucopia of seafood; brown crab, mussels, langoustines, oysters, whelks, cockles, scallop, winkles, razor clams and clams, all accompanied with mayonnaise and shallot vinegar. There is a choice to add lobster at £49.50!
But knowing that this would not be a regular eaterie for us, although I could have happily tried everything offered on the menu, we decided to go fairly traditional. I cannot resist ordering oysters when they are on offer so I started with six of their Porthilly oysters, sourced from Rock of course. Absolutely delicious; silky smooth and plump with that slight hint of the sea, bringing back wonderful memories of Cornwall. Robert had Cured Salmon and Passionfruit served with green chilli and coriander, another triumph consumed before I had a chance to sample.
For our main courses, I chose that magnificent fish, Turbot, served simply with an Hollandaise Sauce, New Potatoes and Spinach – why mess around with perfection? Robert went for Lobster Thermidor in an attempt to rekindle those memories of his youth. This French classic has been given a slightly lighter touch by the kitchen making it, according to Robert, even better than he remembered.
To accompany our food we modestly chose the house wine. This I’m afraid was dictated by price but upon tasting was absolutely a perfect match for our food choices and of course any decent restaurant worth its salt should be judged by the quality of its chosen House Wine. Rick’s choice is a white wine from Spain from Castilla y Leòn made from Viura and Verdejo grapes and certainly matches that criterium.
Puddings presented another dilemma but Robert plumped for the Marmanlade Cheesecake with raspberry sauce, as he finds it impossible to resist anything with marmalade, and I chose the Gingerbread Pudding with almond crunch and whipped lemon curd. Both a delight and rounded off this completely delicious meal.
So in conclusion, is it worth the visit? – well yes for a special occasion or treat because it ticks most of the boxes; excellent food, attentive professional staff, chic surrounding and impressive setting but at these prices it will not become my ‘canteen’ but that is not to say, given the wherewithall, I would not be delighted to return time and time again to work my way through the whole menu. First I’ll have to find my own footballer or at my age more likely, the manager!!
Chrissy studied at Southampton University where she gained a degree in Fine Art Valuation and worked for 16 years at Gerald Marsh Antique Clocks in Winchester, now known as Carter Marsh. Following her departure from Carter Marsh she has been instrumental in the launch of The Vintage Magazine and the design of its website. As well as being a contributing author she is the Features Editor of the magazine with special responsibility for Arts and Culture.