The first thing that attracts me to Banana Wharf is the superb vantage point it has over the marina and Brownsea Island. Colonising a capacious first floor portion of Dolphin Quays, the restaurant/bar is one of the newcomers to Poole Quay, having chosen this as its third location after two others in Southampton and Hamble.I exude excitement as we walk up to a beautiful covered outdoor area with those highly-anticipated views. It’s a little nippy to sit outside so I scan the menu in the comfort of a window seat, basking in the sunrays through the glass, imagining I’m in Monte Carlo.
Unfortunately our arrival is not met with a reception as inviting as the décor, as the waitress doesn’t seem that pleased to be there, no smile, no greeting and although she has most definitely seen us, instead of her coming to us, we go to her as she folds napkins.
Minutes later we order from the October-Feast menu (a special £15 menu running throughout the month of October) and a few minutes after that, the Caesar Salad and Fried Whitebait are dropped off by a lady dressed a little different to the uniformed staff, she wears jeans and a wooly jumper, seeming a little out of place in the smart surroundings.
My generous portion of Caesar Salad is crammed into a small side dish and I can’t help but make a huge mess trying to grab a mixture of leaves, anchovies, croutons and parmesan. The cheese is exceptionally dry and the leaves are completely soaked in dressing, and so I have to send it back. An apology and a few minutes later, round two of the Caesar Salad goes down much better; the sauce is creamy and tasty, the anchovies salty and soft and the crunchy lettuce provides the perfect foundation for all the ingredients.
The whitebait are crispy and tasty, and I dip each fishy little head into the chunky tartar sauce with glee. As we wait for our finished plates to be cleared, I clap eyes on our waitress nabbing an afternoon snack in full view of the diners. She bites into what looks like a slice of toast, at the bar and I wait for her to finish it before she comes over to our table.
I can hear one of our mains before I see it, as my guest’s sizzling Vegetable Fajita spits angrily from the skillet beneath it. It’s served with cheese, guacamole, salsa and sour-cream and looks fantastic. She is taken aback however, when the first mouthful seemingly packs a spicy punch. I remember that the menu reads ‘Spiced Vegetable Fajitas’, not ‘Spicy’ and even though she is accustomed to strong chili flavours, this is too spicy for her.
We seek out our waitress for a glass of much needed water, but she’s now seated at a table with a few people. I can’t tell if they are diners, friends, off-duty colleagues or all three, but we can’t help feeling a little neglected. Every other waiter in the building seems to have disappeared, and I find it hard to understand why service is so slow considering that right now there aren’t many other customers.
My Mediterranean pizza is a decent size, and is generously topped with olives, anchovies, small prawns and what looks like tinned tuna. It’s cheesy and tasty and good enough that I ask to take half home with me, something I will enjoy finishing off later.
I had a mixed experience of highs and lows with the food but the service was certainly disappointing, even more so when I’m over-charged for the entire meal and the whole thing takes 15 minutes to rectify. Finally I leave – taking a parting glimpse at the magnificent views across the water – pizza box in one hand, and unpaid and undeserved tip in the other. Maybe next time will be better.