I tried The Croft for the first time a few weeks ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. They have a lovely menu full of vibrant salads, wraps and the most incredible cakes.

They also make fantastic coffee and wonderful smoothies. As soon as Bournemouth was treated to its first rays of sunshine, I cooled off with a lovely watermelon, strawberry and apple smoothie.

Smoothie

My two favourites, the sweet potato and beetroot salads, are both bursting with colour and flavour (though of course I had to add a cheeky bit of halloumi to mine).

Sweet potato salad

Beetroot salad

If you’re feeling more in the mood for some carbs, their fries are absolutely divine! My absolute favourite thing from there though, has to be the chocolate orange gluten-free polenta cake. It’s moist, it’s sumptuous, it’s moreish – all those unsettling words that for some reason actually sound alright when you’re talking about cake.

Cake

Their menu is packed full of tasty, healthy options (and a couple of indulgent treats as well!) – I highly recommend. It’s probably a good thing I don’t work round the corner from them anymore, if only for the sake of my bank account!

Takeout box

 

If you’ve read any of my other food related posts, you probably already know that I’m a massive fan of the Urban Guild group of restaurants. In fact, two of them get a mention in my guide to the best places to eat in Bournemouth, and I was lucky enough to take a pizza making class at Urban Reef last year. Spoiler alert – I was very bad at it!

Naturally, I was thrilled when I was invited to review the menu at Urban Beach. Dave and I popped along and had ourselves a lovely date night. We started out with some cocktails (I can highly recommend the French Martini), before ordering our three sumptuous main courses.

French Martini

Starters were a tomato and asparagus salad for me, and some delicious crab for Dave.

Tomato and asparagus salad
The salad was vibrant, fresh and bursting with flavour.

Crab meat starter
I must admit, I was very jealous of Dave’s crab. It had a wonderful fresh, delicate flavour that was perfectly complemented by a lovely rich sauce.

The only thing that left me slightly disappointed was the lack of choice for vegetarians. On the specials menu there was no vegetarian starter at all. Even on the main menu, my options were fairly limited. Luckily I eat fish, which gave me a bit more variety.

EDIT: It’s been brought to my attention that there is actually a separate veggie and vegan menu. I guess this means I’ll be going back there soon! All in the name of research, of course…

Onto the mains. I had the sea trout in lobster sauce, while Dave had the Beef Wellington.

Sea trout

My mouth is watering just thinking about this dish. The fish was moist (a tiny bit more rare than I’d usually have, but lovely nonetheless) and melt-in-the-mouth, while the black rice and lobster sauce rounded out the textures and flavours perfectly.

Beef Wellington

I didn’t try Dave’s, but the beef looked like it was cooked perfectly and the whole lot disappeared pretty quickly, so it’s probably safe to say it was a winner.

Even though we were both very full by this point, we somehow managed to squeeze in some dessert (I know, what a hardship!).

Dessert ended up being my favourite part of the meal. I ordered sticky toffee pudding, which is not normally something I would go for, but it sounded too delicious to pass up.

Let me tell you, it was absolutely incredible. And the toffee sauce? I wouldn’t mind taking a bath in that stuff. Honestly, I could drink it as a beverage. I shouldn’t, but I definitely could.

Sticky toffee pudding

Chocolate fondant

Dave had the chocolate fondant, which tasted as amazing as it looked. Seriously though, that plating!! Gordon Ramsay would approve, for sure.

Verdict: As always, Urban Beach did not disappoint. The atmosphere and service were both excellent, and the food was divine. I would have liked to see a bit more choice for vegetarians, but quite honestly, with a sticky toffee pudding that good, they could offer a bowl of gruel as the veggie option and I probably wouldn’t care.

Book here.

Places to eat in Bournemouth

Man, do I love me a freak shake. What’s not to like? It’s a milkshake (good), piled high with squirty cream (goooooooood), topped with any kind of candy/cake/biscuits your heart desires (yaaaaaaaaaaaaas).

I’m also a huge fan of iced coffee. So naturally, I got to thinking about how I could bring these two great things together, for a slightly more grown-up spin on the freak shake.

You know, a drink that doesn’t look like all the leftovers of a kid’s birthday party, thrown in a glass.

I had a little think about what would work nicely with coffee, and decided that Lotus Biscoff biscuits would be the obvious choice. I’m also a great lover of the flavour of banana with coffee (sounds weird, but seriously, it’s so good!), so decided to use some dried banana chips.

It seems a doughnut is almost mandatory, so I threw one of those on, as well as a ton of squirty cream, and a liberal sprinkling of crushed biscuits and banana chips. Of course, you could use whatever you want as a topping. It would be fun to play around with different combinations – you could even add a splash of Baileys if you fancy making it boozy!

The chocolate sauce I drizzled on the inside of the glass (and generously all over the top!) was Sweet Freedom vegan Choc Shot, and naturally, the iced coffee I used was Jimmy’s. They’re a fab company based just down the road from me, and I’ve been obsessed with their cute little cartons of iced coffee since I discovered them when I moved to Bournemouth.

It’s also worth noting that they’ve recently released a dairy free version, so if you wanted to make this an entirely vegan treat you could, with just a few easy tweaks. I found some delicious looking vegan alternatives to squirty cream here.

Psst – you can now also buy vegan Baileys. Just sayin’.

Bottoms up!

If you haven’t watched Queer Eye yet, do it immediately. I was a big fan of the original show, so of course I was intrigued about the Netflix reboot.

I quickly fell in love with the new Fab Five, and was surprised by how moving each episode is. It truly is a joy to watch, from start to finish. After binge-watching the whole series, I was left with a huge smile on my face and a tear in my eye (though I’ll deny this if anyone asks).

All the guys are awesome, but Antoni (the food and wine expert) was always going to be my favourite, because…well, he’s obsessed with food.

Oh, and he’s not bad to look at either.

Antoni

As well as being super sweet and a bit of a dork, he’s also the type of guy that makes you say, ‘that’s SO me!’ at least 15 times per episode. Here are just a few of the times he was relatable af.

When he showed he’s just a big ol’ romantic

http://michael-arden.tumblr.com/post/171310161843

Pretty much every time he saw a dog

http://fionapplesauce.tumblr.com/post/171734086324

When he was just a *tad* dramatic

https://tan-antoni.tumblr.com/post/171528516296/bloodycranberry-queer-eye-is-poetry

When a spectacular grilled cheese left him lost for words

http://pointedahead.tumblr.com/post/170949218712/when-your-food-finally-arrives-at-your-table-and

This is the man who declared he’s ‘never met a cheese he didn’t like’, after all…

Antoni in a cheese hat

When his face said what we were all thinking

http://michael-arden.tumblr.com/post/171054798391

I mean, really. Pickle juice?

When he confessed his love of a good bad smell

http://michael-arden.tumblr.com/post/171094168326/bonus

As my tweet below might suggest, I appreciate someone with a keen olfactory sense.

When he was just a big kid

https://bawling.tumblr.com/post/171036500348

I mean, it was  a pretty cool hat.

When he really, really loved chilli

http://extrajordinary.tumblr.com/post/171196’never met a cheese I987697/get-someone-who-feels-the-same-way-about-you-as

When he couldn’t quite handle AJ’s leather harness

http://extrajordinary.tumblr.com/post/171195824362/antoni-and-aj-in-leather-a-thrilling-saga

When he was just a big kid (part 2)

Riding a scooter

Happy birthday, Antoni!

Keep being your ridiculous self.

 

 

In case you don’t know this about me by now, I’m sort of obsessed with food. That’s why I’ve not only eaten at most of the restaurants in Bournemouth, but I’m fairly certain I’m qualified to share my recommendations.

Without further ado, here are my absolute favourite places to eat in Bournemouth.

Pizza

For pizza in Bournemouth, you absolutely can’t beat Da Mario or Baffi. Da Mario is run by a lovely Italian family and their pizzas are just out of this world. The restaurant itself is quite small and simple, but you’re always guaranteed a warm welcome, friendly service and incredible food. Great for a casual dinner with friends.

Baffi is a bit more stylish, with stripped back industrial decor and romantic lighting. As delicious as their main courses are, be sure to save room for a dessert pizza – they are sensational.

That being said, I had a starter, followed by a whole pizza, with a dessert pizza to myself afterwards, like an absolute boss.

Fish and chips

Living in a seaside town, I couldn’t really write a post about my favourite restaurants without including fish and chips, could I?

Without a doubt, the best ones in Bournemouth are from Alfie’s. All the food is delicious and cooked fresh to order. The chips are perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and their batter is nice and light, not too greasy. Definitely give the pea fritters a go.

Sushi

Again, I’ve picked two places. Sushi ‘n’ Roll is a tiny little place on Westover Road, but their sushi is unbelievable. It’s all made fresh to order, there’s a fantastic selection and the price is reasonable too. I would highly recommend the Rainbow Roll and crispy prawn roll.

For more of an occasion, you can’t beat the Nippon Inn on Charminster Road. Again, a great choice of delicious sushi, as well as other lovely Japanese dishes, plus you can choose to eat in the traditional way – at a low table, sitting cross-legged. Note: You will need to take your shoes off, so not the best time to wear boots!

Oh, and I would highly recommend you try the black sesame or wasabi ice cream for dessert.

Thai

Thai food is one of my absolute favourites and in my opinion, the best place in Bournemouth has to be Koh Thai Tapas. Their Tom Yum soup is the best I’ve tried anywhere (it’s ridiculously good, trust me) and because the menu is tapas style, you get to enjoy so many different flavours and dishes. I mean, it’s a way to eat more Thai food, so of course it was always going to be a winner for me. The atmosphere is great and they also serve lovely cocktails.

Other than the soup, I can’t recommend anything else because you just have to try everything. Trust me. Dave and I once ordered so much food the kitchen had to stagger its release because it wouldn’t all fit on our table.

Indian

Winton Tandoori wins, hands down. Dave’s order is a lamb Bhuna and I normally go for an okra curry with cheese naan bread.

Amazing Indian feast!! #manvsfood #lbloggers Great night catching up with friends!

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Dosa World on Old Christchurch Road is great if you want to try something a bit different to your usual Indian. Their speciality is Dosas (as you probably could have guessed), a type of South Indian savoury pancake filled with curry. The food is really good value for money, tasty and filling, and great if you want to try something new.

Tapas

We have a few Spanish tapas restaurants, but the best one by far has to be Tapas Plus in the town centre. The decor is simple, but inviting, and the food is wonderful.

Two words: Fried. Cheese.

Yes please.

Chinese

When we want a takeaway there’s only one place we order from: Mr Rice. They do a great choice of Chinese and Thai dishes, and plenty for vegetarians too. Tofu can always be a bit hit and miss for me, but they cook theirs so nicely that I often find myself ordering it instead of meat.

Other recommendations include the Ha Gow (prawn dumplings – SO GOOD), Massaman curry and their spicy Thai soups. For dessert, you have to get the banana fritters. So freakin’ good.

Vegan

For wholesome and tasty vegan food (and the creamiest hot chocolate), it has to be Sukha Lounge. You can read my full review here.

Steak

The cocktails, food and atmosphere at Funki Griller are top notch. Plus, you can watch your steaks being cooked on a big screen, which is surprisingly quite fun.

Other favourites

Aruba is great for lunch with the girls. It’s right on the beach, does fabulous cocktails and there is something on their menu for everyone.

For really great pub food, fun cocktails, insane freak shakes and incredible desserts, Inferno on Holdenhurst Road is always a winner. They need to bring back their mac ‘n’ cheese toastie though – that beast was incredible!

For awesome breakfasts, you can’t do much better than Starz in Charminster. I always order the Eggs Royale – the poached eggs are perfect every time and they make the best Hollandaise.

Bosca Nova is a perfect brunch spot. They do great coffee, lovely fresh juices and have a lovely selection of delicious choices for vegetarians. You have to try one of their cakes too – they’re sublime!

And that’s how you do lunch. #latergram #lunch #avocadotoast #halloumi

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For the chicken lover who fancies a change from Nando’s, Chicken ‘n’ Blues in Boscombe does something called the Mac Daddy wrap – trust me when I say this should swiftly make its way into your face.

If you work in the Lansdowne area of Bournemouth there are a few great places if you’re looking for somewhere to buy your lunch. Naked Coffee does a great selection of veggie and vegan food, plus fantastic coffee. Also, their white hot chocolate is the bomb.

Sands2 is the place to go if you’re looking for tasty, filling sandwiches, soups and jacket potatoes. My favourite sandwich of theirs is the chicken, bacon and avocado. The staff are absolutely lovely too!

For gorgeous cakes and macarons, check out Le Petit Prince in Westbourne.

Lastly, check out Frieda’s Tea Rooms for the BEST red velvet cake you could hope to put in your face.