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

Now I’m going to start this post by saying that I’m not a vegan, so a plant-based raw café wouldn’t be my usual choice. However, I’d heard such good things about Sukha Lounge (in particular, their hot chocolates!) that I had to give it a go.

Located next to Yoga Lounge, Boscombe, Sukha Lounge has exactly the relaxing, peaceful vibe you’d expect. The owner, Juliette, is warm and welcoming, and her passion for her food shines through.

Naturally we started with her famous hot chocolate and it did not disappoint! Made with cacao nibs, dates and almond butter, it’s hard to believe a hot chocolate so smooth and indulgent is completely dairy-free.

We were torn between the colourful array of salads on offer, as well as the sumptious all-day breakfast options, so we ordered ourselves a bit of a feast!

Fresh, crunchy and flavourful, the spring rolls were a personal favourite, and the pancakes topped with peanut butter and berries were a definite hit as well.

What surprised me the most was how much variety there was. We were spoiled for choice and each dish was simple, but full of great texture and flavour.

And then there were the cakes. Oh, the cakes. We tried a selection, including lemon cheesecake, banoffee pie, chocolate and raspberry cake and quite honestly, the most delicious apple tart I’ve ever eaten. Each one was indulgent, rich and impossibly creamy.

Last up I had a matcha latte, something I’ve been very keen to try for a while. Creamy, comforting and with an interesting seaweedy flavour, I could see how it might be an acquired taste, but I loved it.

I came away from Sukha Lounge feeling calm, relaxed and most importantly, full! The food is healthy and delicious, and the atmosphere warm and inviting. The simple, stripped back decor is complemented nicely by a few quirky pieces of furniture and soothing music helps to turn the cafe into a little oasis.

Vegan or not, you should visit Sukha Lounge if you want wholesome, delicious food served in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. I promise, you’ll be glad you did!

The lovely folk at Franco Manca Bournemouth very kindly invited me to attend their press event recently. Being a MASSIVE pizza lover, how could I say no?

We were welcomed at the door by lovely staff, who offered us a drink from a selection of wonderful sparkling wines, beer and the most delicious homemade lemonade I’ve ever tasted.

We were seated shortly after and from this point we enjoyed what I can only describe as a constant stream of food brought to our table.

We sampled amazing meats, focaccia bread with homemade pesto and burrata so good I’ve had dreams about it since.

The burrata of dreams!

Then we moved onto the main event: the pizzas. All Franco Manca pizzas are made with sourdough and fresh, simple but delicious toppings. We tried so many it’s hard to say which one was my favourite, but if you’re a fan of goat’s cheese, I have to say the goat’s curd is divine.

The wine was flowing freely as well, with the highlight definitely being a biodynamic (no, I had no idea either) sparkling red. I’ve never tried anything like it – smooth and mellow yet refreshing, with a light fizz. Wonderful.

Thankfully, we had a little break before dessert, at which point we had a go at making some pizzas ourselves. The chefs guided us through the process and it was great fun to have a go at picking our own toppings and use the giant paddle to put our pizzas in the oven.

The fab Kirsty having a go. Check out her vlog of the event here.

I pull some lovely faces.

The gorgeous Emma with her pizza creation!

My finished pizza.

Dessert was a wonderful selection of cakes, including tiramisu (an Italian favourite!), chocolate and hazelnut cake, and my personal favourite, a lemon and rosemary semolina cake served with natural yoghurt and honey. The perfect balance of sweet and tart, it was a great way to end what was admittedly a very rich meal!

I felt thoroughly spoiled as the drinks continued to flow and we enjoyed coffees and Limoncello, a cheeky digestif.

Cheers!

The service was wonderful and the food was honestly incredible – I would highly recommend! I also loved the simple, modern decor of the restaurant, with its beautiful, open kitchen offering you the chance to watch your food being freshly prepared.

Bournemouth’s Franco Manca is attached to Debenhams, and one quirky feature of the layout is that they have a door leading straight into the menswear department!

Everything, from the staff to the music, lent itself perfectly to the chilled, friendly atmosphere, making this not only a delicious, but thoroughly enjoyable dining experience.

Find your nearest Franco Manca here!