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|Address:||Christchurch Harbour Hotel & Spa, 95 Mudeford, Christchurch, Dorset BH23 3NT|
|Price: £43.00||Wine: £16.50||Champagne: £45.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm, 6-10pm, Sun 12N-8pm|
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Our first visit, with friends, to this modern restaurant overlooking the water at Mudeford, with views across the harbour to Hengistbury Head. So nicely situated, with a good view, but otherwise unremarkable in appearance.
First thing to note is the confusing array of menus. There's an a la carte, a daily set lunch with plenty of choice, and a “catch of the day” menu which is unsurprisingly fish and which looks pretty expensive till you're told that the fish price includes either one of their signature souffle- cheeses or passion fruit. You can apparently mix all this to your hearts content, so choosing takes a while and is accompanied by much flashing between the different bits of paper “now where was that Octopus dish I was looking at just a minute ago?” We got there in the end but we had such a mixture that it was a bit of a mission to check the bill at the end, and a minor miracle that the server had got it all right.
The food was decent to good but a little variable . My octopus starter with clams was small but tasty and served at just the right temperature (warm). This was followed by a nicely cooked and perfectly boned but somewhat bland lemon sole on a bed of crispy greens to which I added some triple-cooked chips. I was frankly a bit disappointed in the fish- a bit small, a bit bland and not nearly enough beurre blanc to contribute anything to the dish and not even enough to determine what it tasted like. I've tasted a lot of lemon sole like this- but having started to source my fish from a fishmonger in Cornwall I'm getting used to white fish with quite a bit more flavour and character than this. “Local” doesn't have to mean better. The signature passion fruit souffle surprised me a bit- its a fairly plain souffle cooked right and looking right into which is spooned quite a large quantity of a hot passionfruit sauce. The sauce is very intense and concentrated, and in my opinion could do with toning down somewhat. A trip to see how London's Ledbury deals with this dish – with the passionfruit incorporated into the souffle might result in the dish gaining a little sublety that I felt it lacked.
So all told, an enjoyable meal but not a classic. Served pleasantly, it was worth the £95 per couple it cost including a bottle of wine plus a couple of glasses and coffees. Go back? Sure if we're in the area ( its a long way from home) but it's not quite a meal to remember. We've eaten in three well-liked restaurants in this area, and altough they are all different in food and style, LimeWood; The Pig, and The Jetty are at a level for me.