review by Janine Pulford
For a restaurant with an unparalleled location, visit Key West on Bournemouth Pier.
With unrivalled views of sea, sand and stars, it is a prime spot for a meal, afternoon tea or any celebration you can think of.
As well as the restaurant, bar and grill, there’s a large sun terrace where you can catch the rays or watch the sun go down.
Located almost at the end of the pier, Key West is part of the vibrancy of this iconic landmark that has attracted families since the 1800s. It’s a place to relax and unwind as you take in the panoramic views from the Isle of Wight to Old Harry Rocks.
The restaurant offers traditional and contemporary dishes. It also boasts a sprung dance floor making it an ideal choice for private club nights, parties, black tie events, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and more. Private bookings are welcomed and with Christmas on its way, Key West invites you to have your party at their place!
The food is awesome, too.
mags4dorset had a bit of a party when it visited to sample the menu.
Pier prawn cocktail: A good looker, there was a generous portion of Atlantic prawns finished with Marie Rose sauce on seasonal leaves. Digging in, I enjoyed peppery notes of rocket, juicy cherry tomatoes, crunchy cucumber and sliced radishes. With a squirt of lemon, the whole was wellbalanced and satisfying. There was fresh granary bread, too.
Saucy chicken wings: Arriving with peri-peri hot sauce, my husband, Nick, couldn’t wait to tuck in. He showed restraint by ordering only half a kilo rather than a two-kilo pot! The saucy part had a kick and paired well with the accompanying peri-peri.
Thai fish stew: The presentation blew me away. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I took the lid off the enormous pot. I kept telling myself ‘it’s nearly all fish – not too many calories and very nutritious.’ King prawns, cod and mussels with red onions, tomatoes and new potatoes were crowned with grilled mackerel fillets. There were prawn crackers as well. It was both challenging and beautiful and I couldn’t finish it all. The Thai spiced cream was the stand out with fennel, garlic, coriander and that lovely heat of chillies. I’m sure there was coconut, too. I had been uncertain about Thai spices with mackerel, but they worked. If I wanted to be picky, I would say the mackerel could have been softer, but the crispy skin made up for it. If you like fish, it is a must-have dish, it was bold, flavoursome and exciting.
Key West all day brunch: This meal by comparison, was not headline news. Definite comfort food. The eggs were free range, the sausages were pork and it was all pretty self-explanatory and typically British. The pea shoots were a nice touch and the chips were crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle.
Rich chocolate sundae: I couldn’t contemplate anything more than the smallest taste of this dessert, but Nick seemed to have a never-ending appetite. Ice cream with chocolate brownie pieces, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and marshmallows were a great combination for my hungry man. I was happy to stop after the fish stew.
The ambience at Key West is of space and relaxation. You don’t have to dress up to eat there and families are welcome. The restaurant opens at 10am every day for breakfast and the cakes, with gluten-free options, look scrumptious.
Lunch and afternoon cream teas are popular and you can even get your pooch some doggy ice cream.
From October, Key West will close at around 5pm. There is a pier toll, but after the end of October and throughout the winter, there are no charges. In the summer, the charges don’t apply after 6pm and the restaurant is open later at busier times. Check the website for updates. Once you pay to go onto the pier, the ticket lasts all season, so that’s a bonus.
Key West thrives off private bookings (up to 400 people) and will give you a great party in a prime location. Christmas parties should be booked now to avoid disappointment and Key West is offering a Christmas finger buffet and traditional Christmas meal with gluten-free options. There’ll be a disco, so get your dancing shoes on. The large domed ceiling will light up to really put you in the party spirit.