The Cliff House
Beach vibes, fab food and plenty of cliff appeal. Muddy popped to The Cliff House in Barton on Sea.
The Cliff House in Barton on Sea is blessed with a pretty amazing view. The restaurant/bar sits atop of a cliff (no surprise there then) overlooking the Solent and, on a clear day, you can see all the way over to the Isle of Wight.
Tipped as a restaurant and bar with rooms, it’s open for lunch and dinner throughout Monday to Sunday (they’re pretty renowned for serving up a lovely Roast on a Sunday). Monday to Saturday the restaurant is in service between 12pm-2:30 pm, then between 6pm-9pm. However, the bar menu is available from 12pm – 9pm all day.
Every little detail design-wise has been carefully thought out. With magazine spread-worthy nooks, specially commissioned artwork and possibly the most enviable tiles dotted around (the owner said she loved them so much she has them at home too!)
This is certainly one of those ‘hidden gems’ people talk about and while it always gets busy (particularly in those balmy summer months) it’s got a relaxed atmosphere year round. Even in the last throes of February when we visited, there’s a chilled out beachy-vibe to the whole place.
The Cliff House also comes complete with its own small garden, dotted with picnic tables but overlooks the huge beach, so outside space is definitely in droves here.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The menu is eclectic and diverse, catering for all tastes and requirements (I spy you gluten-free and vegan options). To start, my companion and I opted to share the Tempura Prawns with Pickled Cucumber, Yuzu and Coriander (£8.50).
Tempura can be a tricky beast, but the batter was executed perfectly with just enough going on flavour-wise without overpowering the whole affair.
For main we first chose the Mac ‘N’ Cheese with Haddock and Crayfish Tails, Dressed Leaves and Sourdough Garlic Bread (£14). Although it looks small it was packed with flavour, perfect gooey cheese and was surprisingly filling.
On the other end of the scale, we ordered the Winter Root and Fruit Salad with Roast Beetroot, Plums, Pecans, Smashed Corn and Pomegranate (£12.50). This was actually a vegan dish but I was able to add feta to it which went with all the other components really well. It also looked gorgeous on the plate and really boasted the restaurants seasonally-picked food credentials.
Puddings also on offer ranged from an Orange & Brandy Cheesecake (£7) to Cranberry Bread & Butter Pudding with White Chocolate Custard (£7), plus local ice-cream from St Jude’s.
The bar is extremely well stocked with wine, beer, cocktails and mocktails. And The Cliff House has its very own gin, Flip Flop and beer on tap.
If you can’t stand to leave (and I can totally understand why!), then The Cliff House has seven bijou rooms to choose from. With nautical names such as Plymouth, Portland and Dover, they come with super comfy beds, sea views (with a couple of them even having The Needles in their sights).
All rooms come with an en-suite but you’ll need to request a bath on booking. They also have an accessible room which is dog-friendly has its very own entrance. The smaller rooms start at £75 per night and the larger ones go up to £145, which considering the location and surroundings is excellent.
OUT & ABOUT
As well as the glorious sea views and a beautiful beach to walk along, as it’s in the New Forest it’s only 20 minutes away from places such as Milford on Sea and Lymington. Both towns are full of quirky boutiques and independent shops you won’t find elsewhere.
Being by the sea you have spots to hire a boat and sail onto the Solent. Or, for something requiring less sea-legs, you can take the kids fishing and crabbing as well. Top tip is nipping over the border to Dorset and visiting Sandbanks Beach. This is the millionaire’s playground of Dorset and has an absolutely gorgeous sandy beach.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Those looking for excellent food in a beautiful location. It’s the perfect place for long windswept walks, followed by a tasty meal with a modern twist. It’s also quite family friendly as well and, despite the fact it’s on a cliff, it’s super accessible so great for those with older parents etc.
Not for: There’s a relaxed beachy-vibe to this place, so don’t expect it to be really formal. Also, if you need to head off somewhere afterwards the chilled vibes will probably make it difficult to leave. The urge to sit in the evening sun with a cocktail in hand will be too hard to overcome.
The Damage: ££ – With mains ranging from £12.50 to £22.50 and a glass of wine starting at £5.50, it’s extremely affordable and in such a beautiful setting, you could expect to pay a lot more.
thecliffhouse.co.uk, Marine Drive West, Barton on Sea, New Milton, Hampshire BH25 7QL. Tel: 01425 619333