Every now and again, we get the opportunity to do some incredibly envious things, things like dining out at some of the best restaurants across Dorset and this was no exception.
Situated across from the beloved Bournemouth pier approach, The Crab is in its natural habitat, serving gorgeous seafood, by the sea. We arrived one brisk, autumnal afternoon to sample the delights of their seasonal menu. With the subdued warmth of a winter sun egging us on, the team was in high-spirits for a fine-dining event.
We arrived at the glass-housed restaurant and took in the décor. The tables were adorned with appropriate seaside earthenware, polished silver and voluptuous wine goblets; a beautiful littoral setting for the day. We scanned the room only for our eyes to catch our wonderful host for the afternoon, who swiftly sat us on a long table by the window, allowing us a prime people watching opportunity.
Shortly after taking our seats, we received the menus. We shot each other an excited glance and began pondering our food choices, but first, the all-important drinks. For me, nothing compares to the refreshment and suitable pairing (with fish) of a cool, crisp Sauvignon Blanc, preferably (and it was) of New Zealand origin. Among the other choices, were full-bodied reds, familiar and favoured beers and invigorating soft drinks, all recommended based on pertaining food choices – ah, such service. Having submitted our orders, we toasted to the meal ahead and waited excitedly for the first course to arrive, but before the lips of our glasses could touch a little amuse-bouche arrived. A gorgeous little package of unidentified, yet incredible, flavour – the perfect way to rouse our appetites.
A few sips of wine later, our starters arrived. Ross and I had both ordered the same (great minds), a gorgeous ‘Native Lobster Thermidor Gratin’, complete with Gruyere cheese and an almost sinfully good smoked bacon crumb. Cheese lovers, you need to try this. Each and every element was perfect; my only complaint was not having more! Across from me, Ben was happily savouring crisp parcels of fried squid. As he was unable to park his crockery I took it to be a resounding yes from him. The rest of team had decided to save themselves for the main event, a smart move considering two of them would be sharing the signature ‘Hot Fruits De Mer’.
The platter arrived and it was gasps all around; the sheer amount of food was incredible! On it was half a lobster, one whole crab, king tiger prawns, scallops St. Jacques, a bucket (not kidding) of tomato and chilli mussels, market fish and tempura oysters. I watched as the look of both shock and excitement battled over the right to a facial expression, but like troopers, they gathered their claw crackers and after dispersing most of the shell across the table, revealed some truly delicious fish. The scallops were beautiful; silky and melting in the mouth and a welcomed contrast against the gently crispy tempura oysters.
For main I had selected the ‘Seared Monkfish Fillet’, served with tarragon infused, crushed potato. The dish was paired with an utterly sublime pea and wasabi puree, which brought a subtle heat and sweetness to the meaty-fish fillet. That paired with the nuttiness of the crab butter and cashew tuile was a continuous explosion of flavours and roller coaster ride of sweet and savoury delight. It was just incredible. One of the best fish dishes I’ve had in a long time.
Almost too full to go on, the figurative goodie and baddie on my shoulders battled with the idea of dessert and depending on your own outlook one of them won and 10 minutes later, dessert arrived. A breathtaking ‘Pistachio Crème Brule’ arrived, unfortunately it was for Ross – fortunately he let me try some and it was seriously good. I would go back purely for dessert.
For a beautiful fine-dining experience, particularly for fish lovers, you have to visit The Crab.
By Charlotte Williams
t. 01202 203601
a. Exeter Rd, Bournemouth BH2 5AJ