Like loads of other parents I’ve got an empty nest again. My son has been home from university all summer, give or take the odd trip to a festival, a Deliveroo job (none of us ever realised how hilly Bournemouth was before) and some eye-wateringly intense bike training. But now he’s back at university and the house feels very quiet. The bikes have gone, the slack line has been dismantled and I’m back to playing London Grammar in the kitchen rather than Jamie xx at top volume.
We marked the last day of the holidays in style though, with a trip to a Dorset restaurant I’d heard lots about but had never visited.
The Jetty at Christchurch got the thumbs-up from both of us. The location is heavenly, with views across the harbour and wind surfers and paddle boarders whizzing back and forth. The décor is sleek and stylish, with friendly staff and super-efficient service, and most important of all, the food is fantastic. I’m not in the least surprised that it’s just been named Seafood Restaurant of the Year for 2016.
I’m no food critic but chef Alex Aitken and his team have created a top-notch menu. I was hard-pressed to choose because everything sounded divine. Not surprisingly, The Jetty makes the most of the fresh fish caught off Mudeford Quay each day, as well as oysters, lobster and shrimps. There’s a seasonal local produce menu (one course is £14.95, two courses £19.95 and three courses £24.95), from which I chose something called Alex’s Twice Baked Creamy Cheese Soufflé (utterly delicious) and fish and chips, and my son went for mackerel fillet with a goats cheese, beetroot and orange salad, followed by a steak (he’d just done a 140-mile bike ride and needed to rebuild his strength).
As with all top restaurants it’s the attention to detail that sets The Jetty apart from its rivals. In particular I loved the amuse-bouche (celeriac soup in a pottery cup) served between courses and the homemade petits fours that arrived with my single espresso.
The Jetty is clearly on a roll. On this sunny Friday the restaurant buzzed with chatter and life – and all was right with the world.