Spring 09 - Seaside success

12/04/2013 11:04
Winning prestigious awards is every restaurateur and chef’s dream, and The Print Room in Bournemouth, home of the annual Wessex Salon Culinaire, is proud of its achievements and the dining experience if offers.

Ever since its launch 16 months ago, The Print Room on Richmond Hill in Bournemouth has won a series of awards. Thanks to a £2m refit it won the Bournemouth Tourism’s Taste of the Year title in November 2008 as well as the Creative Project of the Year award; and then to complete the hat trick, the venue scooped the Best New Interior title in the coveted British Design Awards. Its latest honour was to be asked to host the Hotel & Catering Show’s gala dinner in March.

Travelling back to when the team behind The Print Room first acquired it, managing director Andy Price says he knew exactly what he wanted to achieve when transforming the eatery into the award winning French style brasserie that it is today. “When we undertook the project we had it in mind that we wanted to take a dramatic and historic space and sympathetically transform it into an exceptional environment matched with exceptional food offerings.

“By taking inspiration from brasseries around the world, we have created something that I believe pays homage to the building’s original 1930s architecture and the newspaper heritage of the old print room,” explains Price, who also runs sister restaurants West Beach and Aruba in Bournemouth.

Key design features of the building, which occupies the former printing floor of the Grade II listed Bournemouth Echo building, are its dark wood dining booths, monochrome shades, lots of mirrors and tiled walls, and opulent Swarovski crystal chandeliers hanging from its high ceilings.

The restaurant features an authentic charcuterie, patisserie and bakery, deli bar, grand café and its Ink Bar. Following the makeover in November, the latter now offers a “relaxed, laid back atmosphere” during food service.

The bar is also the area where a number of events are presented to coax customers through its doors. “We stage happy hours, live music every Tuesday, a DJ every Thursday and Friday nights,” explains events manager Chloe Parmiter. “The room is also held for event and conference meetings, and also caters for the more mature age group who come in for afternoon tea.”

Live flamenco dance shows are another attraction along with live opera shows, patisserie making workshops, a wine and supper club and a kids club. The team is also hoping to roll out a take on Strictly Ballroom with a Strictly Print Room event. “So far these events have been a huge success,” says Parmiter. “There have been occasions where we have completely sold out and have had to close the book on customers and turn them away.”

Looking ahead, The Print Room is arranging a day at the races in July. Guests taking part will meet at the venue for breakfast before being transported to Goodwood in West Sussex, returning later to the restaurant for supper and drinks.

Food is very much at the forefront of its operation and executive chef Darren Martin, head chef Simon Trepess and chef de partie Javier Millet source their produce as locally as possible, says Parmiter, and this mindset was very much behind the menu it served at the Hotel & Catering Show gala dinner.

The latter, attended by well known chefs Ed Baines, Cyrus Todiwala, Giles Thompson and Sophie Wright, included dishes such as maple roasted butternut squash and chilli soup with a savoury basil muffin, followed by roast saddle of Dorset lamb served with seared lamb’s liver and pommes Dauphinoise, and thin apple tart with vanilla ice cream and rosemary infused honey.

“We have a French brasserie style menu,” says Parmiter. “Everything comes from local suppliers – we make our own pasties, and butcher the meat ourselves. Everything is very hands on. We always do our best to keep up with the trends; we like to keep things fresh.”

Dishes on the breakfast menu are served from 8-11.30am and include Dorset cereals muesli with fresh berries (£3); eggs royale with smoked salmon (£6.50); Dorset grill egg, smoked back bacon, portabella mushroom, sausage, black pudding, plum tomato, lamb kidney, fried bread (£9.50), and sirloin steak, egg and chips (£10).

The express menu, served from 12-3pm, includes eggs Benedict (£6), spagettini nero with shimeji mushroom, red chilli, baby spinach and parmesan (£9), and fillet of beef stroganoff with fragrant rice (£14.75).

Diners looking for an afternoon pit stop can pop in for tea between 3pm and 6pm and choose from a selection of fine teas served with a combination of finger sandwiches, scones, clotted cream and preserves, and cakes from its patisserie for £14.

There is also an à la carte menu and an extensive wine list. There is wine to complement every meal, says Parmiter, from European to South African, Australian, New Zealand, and wines from the Americas at prices ranging from £15.50 to £400 per bottle.

Parmiter says that even though the recession continues to bite, business is as usual. “People are now more prudent in how they spend their money due to the current recession, but because of the restaurant’s reputation and location, we still have customers coming through our doors,” she says. “The Print Room still wants people to come in and enjoy the food with a budget they can afford.”

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