Anyone that has spoken to me about the restaurant scene locally will know that I'm a huge fan of Roots in Southbourne. Situated amongst a rather unlikely parade of shops you could be forgiven for not even noticing that there is a restaurant there. It is, however, one of the area's finest restaurants and deserves to be recognised as such.
Only catering for 18 people at a time means that the service is always spot on, but also booking in advance is essential.
Chef and owner Jan tells me that most of his customers come from areas outside of Dorset, but I'm here to tell you Dorset dwellers - you are missing out! Granted, tasting menus are not for everyone but if you want to experience culinary skills and absolute magic with food, right on your doorstep then book a table.
My husband and I went for lunch a few weeks ago and this is an example of the type of food you can experience. If you really want to push the boat out try the wine tasting alongside your meal, I admit to not knowing enough about food/drink pairing so was happy to be advised rather than going for the 'one bottle does everything approach'.
A little Baba Ganoush teaser.
Every course is seasonally relevant and beautifully presented, this dish in particular with fresh peas and mint was summer right there in that pretty ceramic bowl.
Living so close to the sea and making the most of local produce, Oyster is an obvious choice on a tasting menu but the combination of Passion Fruit, Dill and Wasabi was something completely different.
The Berlin Supper is a nod to Chef Jan's grandfather and the style of food they would of eaten together. The simple course of bread, meat and fish was accompanied by a small glass of beer (Cheddar Ale). I should also mention the butter made by a local company Bloxs Butter, I wrote about this business when it was very new, Bloxs Butter is now being served at some of the best hotels in the country and is even being sent abroad.
This dish caused me to have a Willy Wonka moment, remember those pills the children took that tasted of a whole roast dinner as they ate? Well it was the same kind of sorcery, brilliantly executed.
Roast Dinner Carrot
When you look at these dishes in detail you can appreciate the time that it has taken to create-
it really is delicious art. For once, I was glad that I had photographed my food before I ate it as there was definitely bits that I didn't fully take in.
Poached Halibut, Courgette, Baby Artichoke Saffron and Basil, beautifully balanced dish with such delicate flavours. After this we were given a Roots Refresher
So many complicated techniques in one small plate of food, Quail, Girolle Mushrooms, Cherries & Black Garlic.
The final dish for us was a beautiful Raspberry Souffle with Coconut and Lemon Verbena, light and fluffy and perfectly risen, well above the top of the ramekin dish, the first spoonful is always the best when you can experience the bounce in reaction to your spoon.
The cheeseboard is astoundingly good and focuses on English cheeses, just wish I had more room to sample them all. We finished our meal with a coffee in no rush to leave - sorry Jan (who obviously needed to prep for dinner service).
We are already planning a return visit with my mum and mother in-law when she next visits and I know they will be just as impressed as us.
141 Belle Vue Road
Tel 01202 430005
Our meal was complimentary all photographs and opinions are my own.