A NIGHT AT THE BEACH IN BUDE
There’s a buzz about Bude. Since winning the accolade of “Best UK Coastal Resort” in the 2015 British Travel Awards last year, the small coastal town seems to be booming.
Located on the north Cornish coast, and just tucked in beneath the Devon border, Bude sits on the mouth of the River Neet (known locally as the Strat) and started life as a harbour. In Victorian times it became a popular seaside resort, and between 1898 and 1966 visitors could arrive by train.
In recent times Bude has shaken off its reputation for being a rather sedate resort. It is filled with an array of independent shops and quirky tea shops, cosy B&Bs and vibrant beach cafés, smart restaurants and chic hotels.
The local residents are passionate about their town and the annual Bude for Food Festival (16 to 18 September 2016) is a testament to this.
The town’s popular beaches (Summerleaze and Crooklets), and Widemouth Bay and Sandymouth Beach close by, make it a firm favourite for families, surfers and wave-watchers, with the famous sea pool the perfect spot for a safe dip. The South West Coast Path runs through the town; the scenery in either direction is stunning and well worth exploring.
We were invited to stay at The Beach at Bude, a 16-bedroomed boutique hotel overlooking Summerleaze Beach.
We arrived in the dark, on a wet, cold February evening and, after dropping bags in our very lovely room – more on this later – we quickly succumbed to the draw of the bar.
If you’re going to have a bar, it needs to be a good one. The Beach’s bar is a huge sweep of brushed zinc which you just have to stroke. It’s extremely well stocked and our G&Ts slipped down easily while we ummed and ahhed over the menu.
In the daylight the view from the bar and restaurant is fantastic, and I can imagine whiling away a summer’s evening here, watching the sun set from the deck.
NB if you’re in the area it’s worth noting that happy hour at The Beach Bar is currently running between 4 and 7pm each evening, with a “two for one” offer on all beers, spirits and house wines. On Fridays and Saturdays this includes cocktails too.
The atmosphere in the bar was just gorgeous, remarkably busy for a cold February night, with good music playing and super friendly staff. But we couldn’t stay here all night, so moved through to the restaurant where our table was waiting.
The restaurant was opened in spring 2014, and head chef Joe Simmonds took the helm that autumn. Joe trained at Michelin-starred The Priory in Bath and is passionate about his cooking, something that really comes across when you speak to him.
My dinner began with a sweet and sticky glazed duck drumstick and confit thigh fritter, with roast parsnips, pak choi, zingy pickled ginger, sesame seeds, and a parsnip and ginger purée. What a good start – everything was perfectly cooked, really well seasoned and a great combination.
The scallops went down very well with everyone. Three plump seared scallops were served with crispy ham croquettes, roasted squash, butterbeans and crispy sage, with a bisque style sauce. Again, another great combination of textures and flavours.
Other starters on the menu included a warm potato terrine with dressed leeks, poached egg and mustard dressing, and charred mackerel fillets with a fresh and smoked mackerel tartare and warm potato salad.
My main course was so full of flavour – chunks of perfectly pink pork tenderloin were served with crispy, juicy pork cheek fritters, fondant potato, roasted cauliflower, apple purée and caramelised apples, and big, fat chunks of mushrooms.
The herb-crusted rack of lamb looked stunning – rustic yet refined – with boulangère potatoes, chard and shallots, carrots and confit garlic.
Jim went for the pan-roasted hake with razor clams, sheets of leek filled with a clever seafood boudin, potatoes, samphire and a warm tartare sauce.
Also on the menu was a wild mushroom ravioli which I’m definitely going to try next time.
The portions are generous here, but we couldn’t not try the desserts, however full we were. My lemon tart was gorgeous – a deep crispy pastry shell was filled with a light lemony custard filling, with a brûléed top and served with zesty lemon curd, a lemon and clotted cream sorbet, and little meringues. It was one of those puddings where you think you’re full so just have one last spoonful, then another, and before you know it your plate is empty.
The wedge of warm, sticky toffee pudding was served with banana mousse and caramelised bananas, honeycomb, pecans and a rum and caramel sauce. The classic banana and caramel combination just went up a gear.
Will’s dark chocolate and pistachio mousse looked stunning and came with pistachio ice cream and a white chocolate crème anglaise.
Next time I’m having the brandy-laced apple and muscavodo panna cotta.
And so to bed… I was very impressed with the standard of the rooms here. Paintwork was fresh, corners were crisp, carpets were immaculate.
The bathroom had a vast free-standing bath as well as the best shower ever, delivering a deluge of hot water. The Orla Kiely toiletries were gorgeous. Our huge bed was super-comfy, and the room was equipped with Nespresso machine and large flat screen telly, although with the impressive sea views I doubt it gets used much.
Best of all, the hotel was completely silent at night.
Breakfast was served in the dining room; the buffet had all the usuals, with cereal, fruit, yogurt, bread, jam, fruit juice and delicious little pastries.
Admittedly I was still full from supper, so I couldn’t eat a whole cooked breakfast, but the menu was very comprehensive – a full Cornish breakfast, garden breakfast (vegetarian), eggs Benedict, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, smoked haddock, pancakes…or any combination we wanted.
I opted for a single poached egg on a slice of thickly buttered granary toast, and it was perfectly oozing.
Jim’s eggs royale looked (and apparently tasted) fabulous too.
After consuming copious amount of coffee, we were ready to (reluctantly) leave the comfort and tranquility of The Beach and head home.
We stayed and dined as guests of The Beach. With thanks to Will, Susie and their fantastic team for looking after us so well.
Rooms start from £95 (room only in low season).
Dinner – starters £6 to £8.50; mains £11.50 to £20; puddings £5 to £8.50.
For more information please contact:
The Beach at Bude | Summerleaze Crescent, Bude, EX23 8HJ
Tel: 01288 389800 | Email: [email protected]