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The Norfolk Royal Hotel is striking to say the least; you might not have been inside it, but you’ve most certainly seen the building – it’s that big pink hotel on Richmond Hill.


The Norfolk Royale is almost as well established as part of Bournemouth’s town centre landscape as the gardens, beach and balloon. Why then, had I never been in before?

The ‘secret garden’ is a tempting hideaway within the grounds, and well worth a visit on a sunny afternoon, if not just for a cup of coffee, or perhaps one of their fanciful afternoon teas. This time though, I’m heading for something a little more substantial at The Echoes Restaurant inside the hotel, and opt for the Fish Platter from a menu cleverly designed like a newspaper page. On it is a selection of classic dishes like fish pie, and sausage casserole, to dishes from further afield like Thai fish cakes and chorizo risotto with sauce vierge.

At £14.50, the fish platter includes a trio of local fish and prawns with grilled Mediterranean vegetables.

Service is prompt, and friendly, and one speedily busy waitress seems to be managing the entire restaurant, inside and out.

She serves up two bread rolls as I wait, and I peer around my surroundings like a nosy spy. The large open space is kept well cleaned, and the circular lampshades hanging from the high arched ceiling adds a touch of art-deco glamour. Carpeted floor and panelled walls give the place a sort of old-school grandeur and a refreshing change from the latest trend of modern, bohemian-style themes in the area.

Despite the obvious age of my surroundings, everything’s well-kept and cleaned, the cutlery sparkles and the glasses on my table look new.

A short while later, and my main course arrives. The huge white plate is topped with generous fillets of salmon, trout and cod and a medley of extra tasty Mediterranean vegetables. A delicious pesto is drizzled amongst small, sweet prawns and the whole thing is wonderful. Whilst I might have preferred my fish slightly less cooked, it’s a fish-lover’s dream dish, and after choosing it as the second option to the fish pie, after my first mouthful I’m pretty glad the fish pie had run out.

I just about find room for dessert, a chocolate brownie with ice-cream at £5.50. It lives up to the main course, as the delightfully dense and chocolatey brownie is rich and tasty, with a good layer of chocolate ganache adding to its density. The vanilla ice cream is also perfectly smooth and creamy and the whole thing is a tasty end to a tasty meal.