WHAT do you do when you have a business that is so successful you struggle to fit people in? Well, in the case of The Cliff House at Barton, you make it bigger and even better.

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The bar and restaurant has undergone a really stylish makeover that includes a spacious extension on the coastal side of the building which has quadrupled the bar area and increased the size of the restaurant.

As VIP guests at a party held to celebrate the relaunch of The Cliff House following the refurbishment discovered, it has now been totally transformed into probably one of the best places to eat and drink on the South Coast.

Apart from admiring the impressive makeover, guests at the party also got to sample some of the stunning dishes from the new bar menu washed down with the Cliff House’s very own beer – named Barton.

Hosting the party, where guests were entertained by the Ed Martin Duo, were husband and wife team Steve Pillinger and Hayley Darbishire who run The Cliff House with her parents.

VIP guests at the launch night in the enlarged bar area

As Hayley later told the A&T The Cliff House has always had an awesome view but until now the inside bar was rather on the small side with space for only around 10 people.

She said: “It was great on a lovely sunny day as the outside terrace can hold 100-150 people easily.

“But when the weather wasn’t so nice, we struggled to fit people in the bar. Now we can have 35 seated plus standing room at the bar. It’s a fantastic space where people can now enjoy a drink before, or after their meal as well as being somewhere you can drop into for all day casual dining.

“We have introduced a new bar menu which features tapas, sandwiches, salads and snacks. The refurbishment has meant we are now able to offer so much more than before.

“We have locals who come in for a drink on a Tuesday, drop in on Thursday for tapas in the bar with friends and then come to the restaurant with their partner on the Saturday.”

Along with the bar the restaurant has also been extended and the whole place now feels a lot more airy and light.

The light and airy restaurant at The Cliff House

Hayley was in charge of the redesign and her aim was for ‘modern coastal’ which she has achieved with the help of local companies.

She said: “We like to do that as much as possible when it comes to our food and drink. We have Ringwood brewery beers including a new one created for us called Barton which is an English craft lager.

“We also have a gin made especially for us by Lymington-based distillery Dancing Cows. It is called Flip Flop – that’s after my husband because he is always in shorts and flip-flops whatever the weather!

“When it came to the refurb, we went local again. The bespoke bar is made out of recycled scaffolding panels by Chewton Wood Design.”

Hayley has done an impressive job with the interior which features vintage style lighting, lush sofas and cool driftwood decorations. In the corner of the bar is a wood burner so even on dark winter nights The Cliff House will still be a lovely place to go.

Think The Hamptons, or New England in America. It’s very classy but, as Hayley says, “very casual too”.

“We are now not as seasonal as we were before which is great both for business and staff. We can offer staff more hours in the winter as hopefully we will now be as busy then as we are in the summer.”

Business has already increased as Hayley was confident it would. She said: “The demand was always there, it was just being able to meet it.  We are now more than able to do that.”

On the new bar menu there are tapas style dishes, priced at £6 each, or for £16.50 for three. Offerings include buffalo cauliflower with harissa humus, 12-hour braised brisket of beef with charred sourdough and ham and Dorset Coastal cheddar croquettes with apple puree.

Hayley says: “We have a lot of people who just drop in here after a walk along the beach with the dog, the bar is dog friendly. We also have guests from the Chewton Glen who want to have a casual meal and also a lot of local B&B owners in the area recommend us to their visitors which is lovely.”

Visitors enjoyed cocktails made by the bar staff

Along with the bar and restaurant, the seven bedrooms at The Cliff House have also been given a makeover and they now have a fully accessible bedroom on the ground floor with its own separate entrance.

Hayley said: “The whole place is actually now a lot more practical for wheelchair users and people with prams.”

This summer The Cliff House will again be holding its hugely popular gin and beer festival along with regular BBQs.

But even if it is not barbecue weather, you can now still be able to enjoy their spectacular views and wonderful food and drink thanks to a very innovative makeover.

The Cliff House is open 12-11pm Monday to Saturday and 12-9pm Sunday. For more details go to www.thecliffhouse.co.uk.

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