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Ventana Grand Café at The Cumberland - restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 10:34 12 October 2015 | UPDATED: 15:30 12 October 2015

Elegant dining at Ventana

Elegant dining at Ventana


John Billington enjoys a delicious locally sourced dinner, with well matched wines, in elegant Art Deco surroundings by the sea

Pan fried Lyme Bay scallops with chorizo starterPan fried Lyme Bay scallops with chorizo starter

Justly famed as a stylish venue with fabulous views of the Dorset coast, The Cumberland Hotel on East Overcliff Drive also enjoys a great reputation for excellent food. As well as creating inventive themed events, often linked to days at the spa or afternoons and evenings around the pool, the Hotel is admirably focussed on quality dining at its Ventana Grand Café.

Art Deco is the theme of the hotel’s elegant décor, with angled columns and huge black and white photographs of iconic stars on the walls. The bar unashamedly boasts a stunning blue chandelier and the pianist, expertly tinkling the ivories, set the scene for a fine nights dining out.

While we browsed the menu we enjoyed a refreshing Blossom aperitif of gin and prosecco with orange and pink grapefruit zest. The menu showed a real commitment to using local produce.

My starter of handmade salmon fishcakes with wilted spinach and sorrel sauce was splendid. The fish was perfectly seasoned and the sauce light and fragrant, yet again posing the question of why we English use so little sorrel in comparison to the French. My wife Tracie’s sautéed Lyme Bay scallops were accompanied by crisply fried chorizo and, tiny red mustard frills which packed more of a punch than their size suggested.

The wine list is based on reliable classics that will marry happily with a variety of dishes. There were some half bottles on offer as well as many vintages available by the glass, a real boon if you enjoy matching each course with a different wine. Tracie had an aromatic house rosé, the Chilean Sol Del Oro and I sampled the Ellie’s Cove Sauvignon Blanc, a New Zealand wine with hints of stone fruit and gooseberries with an initially short finish and then a surprising afterglow.

I had another afterglow of deep pleasure from my main course of Sherborne cannon of lamb. The tender meat had layers of flavour but was almost outshone by a wonderful roasted shallot. What a partnership! The Chilean Los Picos Cabernet Sauvignon we chose was a pretty fine partner too, all red berries and hedgerow warmth. Tracie’s wild mushroom pie was one of an excellent variety of vegetarian dishes on offer. The puff pastry topped pie had five different varieties of mushroom, all mingling beautifully with the well flavoured Chardonnay sauce. This was accompanied by some delicious sweet potato fries that could give any traditional chip a run for its money.

For dessert I plumped for the Yorkshire rhubarb trifle, not only because I love rhubarb but I also wanted to see how this trifle compared to my own efforts with our bumper crop this year. For me the rhubarb could have been sharper but from Tracie’s reaction I think she’ll be insisting on my sweetening more in future. Her pudding was Giggi’s of Bournemouth’s homemade ice cream. Rightly listed in the Times as one of the best places for ice cream in the country, this collaboration between Giggi’s and Ventana is a winner for everyone, especially the diner. Tracie chose pistachio, strawberry and black cherry flavours. Luckily for me, I’d asked for ice cream with my trifle so I got a scoop of the excellent vanilla!

Ventana at The Cumberland appeals to all ages and tastes, be it ladies who lunch after the spa, families on holiday, afternoon tea devotees, Sunday lunch parties or celebrating couples.

Food is expertly cooked, beautifully presented and served by friendly, knowledgeable staff.

Without doubt it’s a recipe for continuing success. 


• Starters from: £5.80

• Main courses from: £11.70

• Puddings from: £5.90

• Wines from: £18.15

• By the glass from: £4.50


• Thursday Steak Night: £48 for two, including wine

• Friday Fish Night: £48 for two, including wine

• Oceana Day Spa treatment with lunch, bubbles or afternoon tea from: £59

• Coffee and snacks available from 9am

• Lunch: 12.30 – 2.30pm

• Dinner: 5– 9pm

The Cumberland Hotel, East Overcliff Drive, Bournemouth BH1 3AF; 01202 290722;


Eating out in Dorset - best restaurants - Whether you’re looking for fine dining, pub food, a romantic meal for 2 or a taste of something from further afield, eating out in Dorset really has something for everyone. Here’s our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs


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