When a new restaurant opens around here, there’s a rumble of feet charging in its direction. Not that we are starved of decent places to eat, it just seems there are a lot of foodies in the Poole area! Also a lot of people who like to be the first to try them out. In the case of Rock in Westbourne it was 6 months from when it opened before we gave it a try. Weirdly I hadn’t heard that much about it, I found this really surprising because when we popped in to see about booking a table for my husbands birthday I couldn’t believe what we saw. I may have even gasped! The venue really is amazing, why had I not heard about this, why weren’t more people talking about it?!!!
I knew it was part of a converted church but I didn’t know how much would still be left in a Church like state. The answer is quite a lot, check out the pics.
Thank goodness they hadn’t messed with the ceilings, windows and beams, just look at that stained glass window, isn’t it wonderful?! So we booked our table, and it was a big one. I always feel bad for a restaurant when there’s a big table because I never think they can do their best work, especially if they only have a small kitchen. Although you can argue that they shouldn’t take big tables in that case. But I really did enjoy my food (they have a Michelin star trained chef), I had the goats cheese beetroot starter, which was so fresh and juicy and the salt beef for main which was gooooooood, my husband however said his fish was quite bland (They do change their menu pretty regularly as they work with seasonal produce which is always a good thing).
The service was fab, but something just wasn’t quite right. In my opinion it was a really simple thing, the lighting. The lighting is all wrong, far too bright. I asked them if they could turn the lights down but they don’t have a dimmer. They just turned some lights off which made it worse. For me, a huge part of the ambience is the lighting, get that wrong and you ruin the atmosphere. I always remember reading an interview with Puff Daddy/SeanCombes/Diddy/whatever where he said one of the key ingredients to his perfect and legendary parties is the lighting. Same goes for a restaurant.
In my opinion Rock needs up lighting that goes up the walls from the floor to make the most of the arches, it needs to be nice and low too so that the main ambience can be created with candle light. It’s a Church for goodness sake give it some drama! Perhaps light the stained glass window from the outside so the diners get the full effect.
The music was the next problem, they had a live singer. A guy with an electric acoustic guitar, he had a nice voice but unfortunately when you put an acoustic guitar in a church venue all I can think of is Sunday School or the two hippies in Four Weddings and Funeral singing ‘Can’t smile with you’!! I’m not knocking the idea of live music, I LOVE live music but you’ve got to get it right.
I think Rock could be something really special, and I think it will be, as long as they make a few tweaks. I will always champion unique places, the superchains dominate and the smaller restauranteurs must be supported. (Rock does have a sister venue in Wimborne which I will have to give a try) My final thought is that I will definitely go back, I just hope they’ve found the drama in the venue that could make it come alive.
Watch this space, and if you’ve been please do add your opinions below.
Love Katy x
Ps. They also now do afternoon tea, which could be a nice treat for a girls day out.
Pics by – Yours Truly