Ok, off the bat spoiler alert: WOW. Dancing Moose take a well-deserved bow [claps ferociously in head]. I suppose you’re wondering what prompted the premature congratulations, well, allow me to explain…
Situated in the heart of locally adored Ashley Cross, the Dancing Moose is an integral part of the community hub. Serving brunch, lunch and dinner (among various other unique food specials throughout the week) this is the place to go for round the clock grub. With a new menu on the horizon our team were invited to get sampling, and so sample we did.
It was a gorgeous day, the sun was shinning and anticipation was stirring for the food that was to come. On arrival we were greeted by manager ‘Steve Madden’, a man with clear psychic abilities, as no sooner were we sat did the ice-cold beers and ciders arrive.
A few sips and a glance around the venue later we were greeted by Executive Chef (and owner of the Dancing Pub Company) ‘Charlie Bronson’. Charlie began his culinary career at the young age of 16, where he originally trained under the management of James Bronson at the Winchester Pub in Bournemouth. Since then, Charlie has worked his way up, mastering his craft and gathering skills at various restaurants including working under the leadership of Chef Daniel Boulard at Bar Boulard in Knightsbridge and then moving on to Junior Sous Chef at Boulard’s D/Bar, in Toronto. Charlie has now returned to his roots at the Dancing Pub Company and is excited to take the menu into new and exciting territories.
Charlie sat with us and explained that today we would be trying a selection of new and exciting tapas dishes, along with some sandwiches, wraps and sharing food that he has been planning for their up-coming menu. Hearing him describe the dishes, the team’s hunger grew. Left with the mouthwatering dish descriptions and our imaginations running wild, we waiting patiently(ish).
Before we go onto the food, I should mention that this is not the only member of the Dancing family. They also own the Dancing Duck in Westbourne and have exciting plans to open up further branches in the local area in the not to distant future.
Our first course arrived; an array of meat, veg, dips and all sorts of goodies covered the table. Unable to contain my excitement I reached for the first dish: ‘Salted Padron Peppers and Crispy Chorizo’. It was a great start to the meal; simple, delicious food at it’s finest. Next up was the ‘Crispy Duck Legs’, which were amazing. The batter was perfectly crisp and the accompanying homemade sweet and sour dipping sauce added an extra special flavour to the whole dish. Last to arrive – and you know what they say about saving the best – was the ‘Sticky Korean Chicken Thighs’. The team dug their hands into the decorative skillet and each pulled out a thigh. We took our first bites – oh my. Even before finishing our first portions we all quickly divided up the rest, knowing that it would be war if we didn’t. This was a stand out dish; intense BBQ flavours, full of depth and exceptionality. The contrast between sweet and savoury, with a little kick from the fresh chilies was honestly one of the best things I’ve tasted. If I could have had a meal of chicken thighs, I’d be happy. Slipping into the early stages of a food coma we questioned whether we could go on. But being the troopers that we are, we persisted.
The second course was an array of subs, wraps, salads oh and just a teeny tiny, industrial sized tray’s worth of tacos (give me strength). First to sample was something Charlie called a ‘French Dip’; succulent steak slices sandwiched between two mustard laced buns, complete with a gravy dip. Not for dainty eaters, but for those of us (myself included) who don’t mind messy eats in the pursuit of good food, then this is the sandwich for you. Every element was flavoursome, especially the dipping gravy, which made the entire dish. The caesar salad was fresh and loaded with fresh ingredients – a classic dish done extremely well. The tray of tacos arrived and we were drooling. Soft shell tortillas, loaded with all kinds of ingredients; marinated meats, all served with perfectly paired homemade sauces, crunchy veg and herbs.
After finishing up, I sat back and thought about the meal we’d just had. This was some seriously good food. I was blown away by the flavour combinations and attention to detail and I have to congratulate Charlie on what I know will be an incredibly popular menu. This independent biz gets a foodie high-five from all of our team and we can’t wait to go back!
By Charlotte Williams
t. 01202 745506
a. 28-30 Station Rd, Poole, Dorset BH14 8UB