Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Restaurant Review: Hot Rocks, Bournemouth

The feeling of sand in your toes, sun warming your skin and the sound of the sea lapping at the shore can't be beat... especially when it's the middle of the week and you feel like you are playing truant from work. I was getting to the end of my tether with the house buying process (five months and counting, thanks to Mr and Mrs C, the most awkward people I've ever had to deal with) and decided I needed to get away from it all. Unfortunately, with the sale of my house imminent I can't go away on holiday, but I realised I had only taken one day off since I started my new job back in February and it was about time for some R&R. Hearing that a heatwave was forecast I decided there was no time like the present and booked the following day off work - and a train ticket to Bournemouth.

My boyfriend couldn't get any time off at such short notice but luckily one of my best friends is a supply teacher and didn't have any work on for the next day, so happily agreed to meet me in Bournemouth. We spent a lovely few hours on the beach, though the promised heatwave never materialised - it was quite cloudy and windy by the sea and I ended up at one point having to put clothes back on! The sun was strong nonetheless, as I discovered when I got home that evening and noticed the sunburn!

We didn't want to stray far from the beach at lunchtime but liked the idea of getting out of the wind for a bit so wakled back up to the promenade. There is a huge Harry Ramsden's on the beachfront but after eating in one in Brighton last year and not being especially impressed, I didn't want to go there.

We debated checking out the restaurant at the end of the pier but instead went to Hot Rocks, a large restaurant only a minute away on the promenade. It has a large outdoor seating area and a long queue inside, but we were told that the queue was people who were sitting outside having to order their food at the bar, whereas if we sat inside, we would have table service. Outside was pretty crowded anyway so we decided to sit inside.

The menu is fairly broad and in keeping with a "surf shack" theme, e.g. luau chicken, malibu ribs, big kahuna burger and shark island, which is a vegetarian patty on foaccia with stir-fried vegetables. Strangely, a lot of the dishes seemed to come with stir-fried vegtables and I'm sure it was even an optional topping in the burger!

I had a lovely non-alcoholic cocktail to drink and the big kahuna burger (without the stir-fried veg) but it was just too big - this is a meal and a half! The burger was quite dense and it came with three onion rings in the burger, and salad and chips on the side. I don't like wasting food (and normally have a big appetite) but left about a quarter of it, it was so filling!

My friend enjoyed the exotically-named luau chicken which was the rather less exotic chicken breast topped with bacon and BBQ sauce (and those stir-fried vegetables again!). I was expecting prices to be steep given the beach front location but thought the £11.95 for my burger and £10.95 for her chicken was pretty normal, until I remembered we weren't in London! I am so used to paying London prices that I forget other parts of the country are usually cheaper (a meal out with the whole of my immediate family in Wiltshire sometimes comes in at less than a meal for my boyfriend and I alone in London!). I was reminded of that when we paid for all day parking in a car park only a few minutes walk from the beach; I was expecting it to cost about £12 but in fact it was £4!

After our afternoon on the beach we walked through Bournemouth's Winter Gardens and I spotted one of my favourite activities as a child - crazy golf. I've played on this course countless times and usually won (whether I was good, or cheated, or my family let me win as I was the youngest, I'm not sure!). It's a traditional course where all the obstacles are made from rocks or wood or involve a bridge or tunnel - none of the clown faces and windmills you sometimes see. Needless to say, I won!


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