We had the pleasure of being invited to an evening meal at No. 34, the restaurant located in The Orchid Hotel on East Cliff in Bournemouth this week.

The hotel is a short walk from the town centre and has free parking. We were welcomed with a glass of Prosecco and live music from the excellent Lee Rasdall-Dove. General Manager Christina Joannides gave a short introduction and we were directed to our tables in the beautifully furnished restaurant, set out over three interconnecting rooms. We had a large round table in the window that sat the five of us very comfortably. Thanks to Harriet Chun from APARO Life Management, Shelley Pearce from LV= and Edwin Bessant from Ceuta for being lovely dining companions.

The menu, dreamt up by Michelin-starred head chef Jean Gysemans, is pleasingly concise at the perfect size of six starters, six mains + three excellent vegetarian options and six desserts. Between the five on our table we sampled a good range and will pick out a few highlights here.

In the nibbles section is Tempura Prawns with a sweet chilli dip, these monsters were a great size and delicious. The starter of 1000 Leaves of Crab has to be one of the prettiest dishes we seen in a long time, check out the photos below. In fact, every dish that came out of the kitchen was a delight to behold, Jean clearly has an excellent eye for plating up.

Mains across the table included the French classic Lamb Navarin, Duck Magret, Slow Roasted Pork and the chef's Signature Hake dish. The hake perfectly pan-fried on piperade basquaise and comes with Bayonne ham. With the wonderfully cooked duck, I ordered side of potato gratin that came in a little hot pot with a deliciously crusty top.

Competing with the crab starter for the most attractive dish, the Strawberry & Rhubarb Compote is a beauty, but the Trio of Chocolate Delights tempted a couple from our table with the Apple Tatin also proving popular.

Hotel restaurants can be a bit of a hard sell to non-residents and Gervis Road isn't a standard tourist route. However this benefits the savvy eater, here you get top quality fayre at a lower price point than you'll find at town centre restaurants with higher passing foot traffic.

For more information and to see the full menu, visit www.no34restaurant.co.uk or call 01202 553737 to book your table.

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