HAVING spent a huge part of my childhood at a family a beach hut in Barton, the coast has always had a powerful draw for me.
So the Noisy Lobster in Mudeford – a restaurant where I can sit just by the shore and watch the waves crashing in – was already ticking boxes even before I began to peruse the incredible sounding seafood-focused menu.
Although I have previously visited the seaside eatery with friends to enjoy its hugely popular Fizzy Friday’s (delicious fish and chips and a glass of prosecco for £18.50) on several occasions, I have never had the chance to try the more sophisticated fish and seafood dishes which are featured on the main and daily specials menu.
Arriving on a wet and windy Wednesday evening we were greeted warmly by restaurant manager Matt who showed us to a cosy window table overlooking the dark and deserted beach.
While the décor of the restaurant is fresh and modern, featuring bold colours and clean lines, it was undoubtedly the spectacular views of Christchurch Bay which take centre stage.
Likewise seafood, which is sourced from a number of local fishermen whenever possible, (Matt estimates that around 90% of the dishes on the specials menu are inspired by local ingredients) is certainly the main attraction at the Noisy Lobster with a vast selections of more than 20 starters and mains featuring fish or shell fish as their star ingredient.
For those looking for a lighter bite the menu includes nibbles such as tempura tiger prawns (£7.90), homemade breads and dips (£7.30) and calamari (£7.50) which can be enjoyed alongside a selection of aperitifs including aperol apritz (£8.50), prosecco by the glass (£6.80) and a superstar Martini cocktail.
There was also an extensive wine list featuring and old and new world wines available to purchase by the glass or bottle; and so having decided we would be dining on seafood we opted for a bottle of light and fruity South African Chenin Blanc Stormy Cape, which was recommended as a good option to accompany shell fish.
The choice of starters was impressive – pan Asian influences were apparent throughout the menu and I was very tempted by panko crumbed octopus with katsu curry sauce, oyster mushrooms and edamame beans (£9.50); but I eventually opted for the starter of the day on the specials menu – Mudeford Bay lobster risotto (£9).
The risotto serving was very generous and topped with a very large portion of lobster tail, which was full of flavour and tender. The rice had a perfect bite and the rich tomato sauce was packed with whole roasted cherry tomatoes delivering a wonderful element of sweetness to the dish. Grated spring onions and fresh tarragon added further aromatic notes.
My husband chose the avocado and crab cocktail (£10.50) served with Melba toast. He described the Mudeford crab meat as light and fresh and particularly enjoyed the combination of finely sliced radish and fresh and zingy cauliflower mustard which complimented the sweet crab meat perfectly. The dish also featured homemade smoked sardine ketchup which delivered a huge hit of umami.
Turning to the main courses we discovered an impressive selection of fresh fish dishes on the specials menu including half or whole lobster, whole baked sea bream, herb crusted fillet of hake, and an amazing sounding dish of griddled Mudeford sea bass fillet with mackerel potato rosti, chorizo, kale, cherry tomatoes and smoke garlic and tomato fondue (£19.50).
But I finally settled on the shellfish bowl (£19.50) – a new edition to the menu which featured a generous selection of scallops, prawns, mussels and octopus served in a rich and creamy Thai style sauce of coconut, lime, coriander, lemongrass and ginger. It was accompanied with a side of toasted coriander seed flat breads.
The dish was topped with a crispy battered oyster – which was delicious and a complete revelation because until that point I had never tried an oyster that I liked! Everything about the dish was incredible – evoking memories of travelling in Asian 20 years ago when seafood was often cooked and served right on the beach – but I had have never tried anything like it in the UK of the same calibre.
For his main course my husband opted for the mussels with crème fraiche bacon and leek sauce (£17) which were served with side of perfect triple cooked chips. He enjoyed sampling a new twist on the traditional mussel’s recipe and felt the bacon and leeks sauce was a wonderful amendment!
Feeling incredibly satisfied after two amazing courses I decided to try and find room for dessert – opting for a passion fruit and coconut panna cotta accompanied by a delicious white chocolate ganache, mango jello and salted burnt sugar oats (£8).
The light and creamy panna cotta was wonderful combined with the sweet mango jello and the beautifully presented dish was also a feast for the eyes.
My husband was equally enamoured with his “extraordinarily delicious” dessert choice – the rustic crème caramel tart constructed on a rich chocolate sable base and accompanied by a Sabayon semi freddo and nutty praline glass (£8).
Blessed with an idyllic seaside location, warm and welcoming staff and wonderful locally sourced raw ingredients, The Noisy Lobster is an absolute gem of a restaurant for anyone who loves the sea and seafood.
The dishes we enjoyed were beautifully put together and unusual as well as being incredibly tasty, and even for those who don’t enjoy seafood there is plenty of choice – from the much acclaimed Sunday roasts, to beach burgers, steaks and vegetarian dishes.
In fact we loved our visit so much we have already booked to return with friends for one of its regular global cuisine evenings.