It may be tucked away in the grounds of the Christchurch Harbour Hotel, but The Jetty operates as a stand-alone restaurant – slap-bang on the water’s edge overlooking Mudeford Quay (“spectacular views” guaranteed). Sleek, cool and fashionable, with acres of glass and a big decked terrace to deliver those knock-out watery vistas, it has made its name as a local hotspot.
At the helm is one-time Michelin-starred chef Alex Aitken (well-known in these parts), who shows his pedigree with a raft of “immaculate”, flavour-driven dishes based on seasonal produce and daily deliveries of spanking fresh fish from the quayside. Having once worked as a trawler man, Aitken boasts a great knowledge of fish and seafood and how to make the most of the ocean’s bounty – a skill that comes across in his excellent cooking.
There are a number of menus to choose from, including an extensive a la carte, seasonal set, vegetarian and vegan, and catch of the day, so mixed groups won’t have any trouble finding something to get excited about. Expect anything from fried squid served with prawns and tomato fondue to Sri-Lankan-style curried fish, with platters of crab, crevettes, razor clams, whelks and mussels in between. Poole Bay oysters are a nice way to start and come in three ways (on ice with mignonette, wrapped in bacon or in tempura batter), but for a real treat, order the surf and turf platter comprising garlic tiger prawns, scallops, crispy squid and steak or half a lobster, served with frites.
For dessert, Aitken’s signature rhubarb and Champagne soufflé is a winner, but then so too are the lemon meringue roulade and the rum and coconut panna cotta. A decent wine list and attentive service are further reasons to visit, in case you need any.