Well, Brett’s and my prayers were answered at last: we finally found good customer service at a restaurant in Bournemouth.
Where, you ask? Why, at Rock Westbourne, Bournemouth’s newest restaurant and the company’s third venture in the Rock Restaurants franchise. Located on Lansdeer Road in an historical former 18th century Methodist Church (so already programmed into God’s sat nav), this place not only impresses with its great customer service, but an incredible setting to enjoy a special meal – or even just a glass of wine with friends.
Brett and I were looking for someplace special to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends this year, and with Rock opening two days before the holiday hit, we thought it was the perfect setting to celebrate this non-religious holiday. We’d been anxiously awaiting the opening since seeing signs a few months ago, and the time had finally come.
I emailed for reservations stating that we were celebrating Thanksgiving. I received a response almost immediately that my table was booked – already the service is standing out.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the sweetest maître di, who escorted us up the narrow stairwell leading into the main dining room.
We were then greeted by a hostess who immediately picked up that we were the ones there for Thanksgiving (could have been my accent?) and we struck up a wonderful conversation while she took our coats and showed us to our table.
The table had been decorated for Thanksgiving! Complete with fruit and flower centrepiece! It was easily the best table in the house (apart from their chef’s table - private dining experience which overlooks the kitchen, and where diners can interact with the chefs as they prepare the food, which we are certainly going to try).
Waiting for our friends to arrive, we spent some time taking in our surroundings.
Rock had kept the essence and authenticity of the church throughout the décor, and incorporated in old wooden tables, velvet-covered seating and recycled pews lining the walls.
A live pianist who overlooks the restaurant and bar from the balcony added to the ambience as we soaked up the views of the stained glass windows and high vaulted ceilings. At the front of the restaurant was the bar – a quaint 6-seater where all the stools were already full of patrons enjoying signature cocktails (found in old hymn books – brilliant!).
Our friends arrived and immediately we were approached by our waitress who remained as attentive throughout the meal. Our glasses were always full, empty dishes were cleared quickly, and all our comforts were consistently met throughout the meal.
The food, which Rock proclaims as Modern British Food by Michelin trained chefs, in a relaxed environment without the ‘Pomp and Ceremony’, was exceptional. The menu options included fish, meat and vegetables and all ingredients are sourced from local suppliers and small family businesses, ensuring we experienced the very best seasonal cuisine the region has to offer.
There was a great wine selection in addition to their signature cocktails. I had a glass of merlot while Brett enjoyed a glass of Rioja.
We were brought complimentary bread, which was home-baked and stuffed with goat’s cheese. We were in heaven.
We each had a starter – I had the crab claw, Brett had the smoked salmon, but other starters included artichoke soup, pate, scallops, and more, all ranging from £4.50 to about £8. The food arrived quickly and was outstanding. Condiments arrived in mini mason jars to add to the simple but quirky presentation. And. Everything. Tasted. AMAZING.
For our mains, I had the sea bass with new potato mash and razor clam (£13) and Brett enjoyed the lamb with lentils (£15).
My fish was cooked brilliantly – flaky under the skin and complimented with a buttery cream sauce that added richness to the light fish. Brett’s lamb was gone before I could even look over to see what it included – that’s how much he enjoyed it!
The lentils were spiced perfectly, and the lamb (medium rare, chef’s suggestion) was succulent and cooked to perfection.
Although we were fat and happy after finishing our mains, we had a look at the dessert menu just to see what was on offer. Although the menu changes regularly, expect to see treats like homemade ice creams and sorbets, figs with goats cheese, crème brule, espresso biscuits, and of course cheese boards boasting locally sourced varieties.
As we were leaving, the maître di from earlier that evening suggested Brett run and get the car so us ladies wouldn’t get wet (as it had started to rain), then he escorted us out to the car under an umbrella to ensure we stayed dry. Was the perfect end to an all-around fabulous evening.
Amazing food, even better customer service. And after only being open for two nights, I was extremely impressed in how brilliantly the night went.
I highly recommend checking this place out. It’s truly a religious experience.
Hours are 10am to 11pm seven days a week.
Reservations by telephone or email on 01202 765696 or email@example.com, plus you can follow ROCK Restaurants on Facebook and Twitter or visit the website at www.rockrestaurants.co.uk