Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in Dorset
Hardens guides have spent 30 years compiling reviews of the best Dorset restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 123 restaurants in Dorset and our unique survey based approach to rating and reviewing Dorset restaurants gives you the best insight into the top restaurants in every area and of every type of cuisine.
Featured Dorset Restaurants
1. Crab House Cafe Fish & seafood restaurant in Weymouth Ferrymans Way, Portland Road - DT4
“The freshest fish right beside Chesil Beach” (of Ian McEwan fame) is all part of the “exceptional experience” and “incredible range of dishes” on offer at this “quirky” beach shack, “just off Portland”, owned by local oyster farmers (and where the “yummy” crab etc. comes “without costing a fortune”, too).
2. The Jetty British, Modern restaurant in Christchurch 95 Mudeford - BH23
“On the edge of delightful Christchurch, with lovely views over Mudeford” – Alex Aitken’s well-known venture is “a great spot in the grounds of the Christchurch Harbour Hotel” (“especially on a sunny day when you can also sit outside”); and being “here as the sun sets, gazing through the sky-high windows across the gently lapping waters, brings a feeling of calm, even after the toughest of weeks at work”. “London prices make it a special occasion destination”, with predominantly fish dishes that are generally “first class” (“if a little patchy at times”). Top Tip – “parking is woefully insufficient, so allow time to sort that out”.
3. The Seaside Boarding House Hotel British, Modern restaurant in Burton Bradstock Cliff Road - DT6
This “magical cliff-top haven” on Dorset’s ‘Jurassic Coast’ combines the attractions of “superb views” with “exciting but traditional dishes” using “excellent locally sourced ingredients”. It offers a “slightly more refined experience than the neighbouring (and highly rated) Hive Beach Café”.
4. Chez Fred Fish & chips restaurant in Bournemouth 10 Seamoor Rd - BH4
“Traditionally good” chips and catch “with mushy peas and a cuppa” (and a side of “unadorned British seaside memories”) do the trick at Fred Capel’s local luminary – “better than any London chippy”, say out-of-towners. Top Tip – “if you don’t fancy the wait they also do daily specials in the takeaway which can be really good value”.
5. The Kings Arms Hotel restaurant in Christchurch 18 Castle Street - BH23
2017 Review: A stately restaurant-with-rooms in a restored Georgian building, overlooking the bowling green – “always an enjoyable place to stay and eat” thanks to “wonderful, winning food from Alex Aitken’s kitchen”.
6. Arbor Restaurant, The Green House Hotel British, Modern restaurant in Bournemouth 4 Grove Rd - BH1
This all-day and affordable hotel restaurant was nominated by numerous reporters last year as a favourite destination in the area. In particular, it’s a champion of sustainability, with an emphasis on local, organic, fairtrade and farm assured produce.
7. Billy Winters Bar & Diner Fish & seafood restaurant in Wyke Regis Ferry Bridge Boatyard, Portland Road, - DT4
2019 Review: “You go for the wonderful location” – “a splendid vantagepoint with views over Portland Harbour” – if you seek out this brightly-decorated prefab, near the water, with outside seating. It’s not a foodie locale however: it serves fish ’n’ chips, baps, burgers, pizzas and other beachy snacks.
8. The Ollerod International restaurant in Beaminster 3 Prout Hill - DT8
“So lucky to have such a venue locally!” Formerly, The Bridge House Hotel, this 13th century restaurant-with-rooms (and a secret walled garden) was taken over by Chris Staines (ex-Foliage) and Silvana Bandini (ex-The Pig hotels) in early 2018 and it’s a spot that’s “particularly delightful in summer with its large outside area and conservatory”. Dorset produce is used to realise a high quality, eclectic menu of small plates – “delicious”, but the experience is sometimes let down by “staff lacking training”.
9. No 34 British, Modern restaurant in Bournemouth The Orchid Hotel, 34 Gervis Road - BH1
2019 Review: Insufficient survey feedback so far for a rating on this dining room within a new contemporary hotel in Eastcliff. It looks as though it’s a useful addition to the eating options in the area.
10. Summer Lodge, Summer Lodge Country House British, Modern restaurant in Evershot
Under the Relais & Châteaux banner, and partly designed by Thomas Hardy no less (an architect before he was an author), this “gem” of a country hotel is “a little out of the way but well worth the effort”. When it comes to its “comfortable fine dining” offer, “no doubt the price reflects the amazing surroundings” but, given that “everything is beautifully done”, only the odd reporter raises any complaint.
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