Upper Deck Restaurant at The Christchurch Spa Hotel, Dorset

Posted on Sunday, 27th October 2013

There’s a wealth of treasures to explore in the New Forest from gardens to wildlife parks, museums to quaint country towns, etc. The list of options is endless, and Christchurch Harbour Hotel & Spa was a cozy hotel from which to do all this from. As the name suggests, the hotel is perched on the harbour, and the hotel’s restaurant, Upper Deck, opens up onto a patio that leads right to the water’s edge. We didn’t get the best weather during our visit, but on a sunny day the unobstructed views promises to be nothing less than spectacular.

Upper Deck Restaurant

Upper Deck Restaurant

The Chef Patron of Upper Deck Restaurant is Alex Aitken who earned a Michelin star in 1995 with his first restaurant, Le Poussin, a star that he retained for 14 years. The menu is classically British and draws on produce from the local area.

The restaurant combines country comfort with coastal chic for a relaxing, yet stylish atmosphere. There is also an elegant bar area where you can caress a few drinks before hitting the restaurant proper. It also serves a few bar bites where we tried the tempura prawns (5 pieces – £5.95) with a sweet dipping sauce and Poole Bay rock oysters out of the shell (£1.95 each). Both were delicious and fresh. There was a nice crunchiness to the batter, and the prawns were firm and sweet. The oysters were fleshy and earthy but had not been completely removed from the shell.

Tempura prawns

Tempura prawns

Oysters

Oysters

A starter of Dorset scallops with pea purée, crispy cured ham and pea shoots (£11.50) was lovely, with the delicate scallops combining harmoniously with the creamy purée. The super crispy ham added a nice textural contrast to the dish.

Scalllops

Scalllops

Tiger prawns (£9.50) were sweet and firm, and blended with a tasty cherry tomato, chilli and garlic sauce. Fresh basil ran through the dish to give it a lovely aroma. Both starters proved accomplished and tasty.

Tiger prawns

Tiger prawns

Fish mains seemed appropriate given where we were staying, but both our fish courses fell short. A fillet of cod with a crab and herb crust (£21.95), mash and crushed peas was dry. The herb crust could also have been crunchier for a greater textural effect. A grilled whole fish grill of the day of plaice (£17.95) didn’t taste entirely fresh either.

Plaice

Plaice

But desserts redeemed the meal with a glorious sticky toffee pudding paired with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream (£6.50). The pudding was classy, being decadently moist and soft, and the sauce was lusciously rich with a lovely consistency.

Sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding

A dark chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream (£7.95) was also extremely enjoyable with a runny, gooey centre. The ice cream was deliciously creamy, and its nutty overtones paired well with the depth of the chocolate.

Chocolate fondant

Chocolate fondant

Breakfast served in The Upper Deck was a really pleasant experience. During dinner, when the light goes down, it’s obviously difficult to see the harbour. But daylight allows sight of the wonderful views. This combined with a tasty meal and a cozy setting made for a rather enjoyable way to start the day. Breakfast included a small buffet selection of pastries, cereals and juices, and there was a decent choice of cooked options. My English breakfast was really nicely done.

English breakfast

English breakfast

There’s a coastal charm to the hotel that makes a visit to The Christchurch Harbour Hotel & Spa very pleasant. Dinner main courses aside, we really enjoyed our food, and there was enough strength in the cooking to suggest that our mains might just have been a dip in an otherwise solid dining experience. The wine list was varied with a number of decently priced options by the glass, and the service was laid back and relaxed.

Dinner Summary Information:

Food Rating: 3.5/5
Service Rating: 3/5

Prices: £29 to £59 for three courses, excludes drinks and service.

Website: http://www.christchurch-harbour-hotel.co.uk/