A fair few childhood memories remain lodged in my grandfather’s local, The Dean Park Inn at Cemetery Junction, Bournemouth. Last time we were there, it was Christmas, so we decided this time to show this fine old pub off and, with it, its food with a more mundane, less festive theme.
As you would expect to find in such a habitat, the menu, including its specials board, is wholly without pretence – pub grub, basically. Burgers, pies (like the Steak & Mushroom one – pictured), even one or two pizzas now, I have been really into my seafood lately, and therefore could not resist one of its specials of the day – a Fish and Seafood Pie (see pictured below).
Delightfully brown and crispy on the top, courtesy of a little melted cheese, the potato topping concealed a beautifully creamy béchamel sauce below, absolutely teeming with little fishy delights. White fish, which I only assume to be cod, as well as salmon, only one or two prawns (to my disappointment), a lot of squid rings and, like the sixpence in the Christmas Pudding, the luxury treat – a whole mini-octopus. One could quite happily sit there all day and pick their way through it – it was so delicious. The miniature saucepan of peas and the other vegetables add the aesthetics but really lend very little else to the success of the dish.
Again, typical of a place of its nature, the staff are very familiar and sociable – something I like to see in all places. There is simply no point in working with the public if there’s no social quality to it. My grandfather is so well-known to the staff that he arranges his regular choice of dish, a Chilli Con Carne (see pictured) to be made to a special, smaller portion size to accommodate his appetite. He’s not a big eater, you see?
If you ever happen to be in the area, and all the other places to watch the football or Six Nations are full, then you could do worse than grab a table up here and enjoy the quality food.