Since officially leaving the Wessex Hotel in full, I have tried to steer clear of the building altogether, even when playing snooker. Unfortunately in Bournemouth and Poole I’m not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to places that have such a facility. However, I found one just off Poole Quay, which just so happens to be attached to two acclaimed restaurants. The Ambassador Snooker and Social Club is directly next door to the Twin Sails Wharf, which I last visited two years ago for a 21st birthday party. Just a bit further down is City Bay Views Chinese restaurant.
The first thing you have to know is not to judge it by what you see when you arrive. The car park appears to be at the front of the building, and from the outside it has the appearance of a burnt-out factory. However, as I discovered, this is actually the back of the restaurant. The front, with its quayside views intact, is much more attractive and becoming of an establishment of its kind.
While the interior décor exudes sophistication out of every corner, right down to two Koi carp ponds in the entrance, the very reasonably-priced and well-varied menu suggests otherwise. I started off with a simple Crab Meat and Sweetcorn Soup (see pictured). Taking virtually no time at all to come out, this was searingly hot when it first arrived. However the dish’s name was a bit of a misnomer – they may as well have called it Egg and Sweetcorn Soup. Really I was somewhat perturbed by how much egg was in it, especially compared to the crab meat, which seemed a little redundant, even barely existent in the grand scheme of things. Conversely, the sweetcorn was not lacking at all.
There was even less to complain about with the main course – a favourite Chinese dish of mine – Fried Duck with Pineapple (see pictured). Fried was an understatement, I have to say. The nonetheless flavoursome duck was more crunchy than crispy, not at all the texture one expects to find in a meat dish. The best thing about it was the abundance of pineapple – one often finds chefs can be a little stingy on such ingredients – and not drenched in sweet-and-sour sauce – which chefs can often be overzealous with. A decent layering of onions and thin slices of carrot completed the ensemble. However, ashamed as I am to say it, I could not finish it – the portion was so big!
This place, with its waterside location and inner elegance, would be an ideal venue for a birthday dinner – even a wedding breakfast. The largest round table even has disco lights installed above it, so one can imagine either such occasion taking place on a regular basis.