The Guildhall Tavern is a Poole Quay institution, with a tasteful new feel, having recently changed hands, this is the restaurant to try to book!
Something that is always reassuring – other diners, whenever you dine – lunch or dinner you will join an eager crowd delighting over a menu that reflects its proximity to Poole Harbour, attention to season, local suppliers, and fine wines to accompany.
We love the Guildhall, Reg at the helm (we have history!), it is always fun, and that never erodes the professionalism or standard of service. Linen-dressed tables, silverware, and any variety of glass depending on your palate.
Book in when you have time to dine and enjoy all that is on offer, this is a no-rush venue! Go with aperitifs; the Golden Negroni is a winner and nibbles of deep-fried and equally golden whitebait and Poole Bay oysters.
We continue as we mean to continue! With a glass of Grand Cru, Guy De Chassey Champagne accompanying Brownsea Oysters, duo of caviar, and croquette of herb and pulled lamb! It’s a stunning dish.
As a table of four we virtually sampled the whole menu one way or another, which is no bad thing – the menu is varied but we are not spoiled for choice as each dish is self-sufficient – one can order fries, chips, new potatoes, seasonal veg salad, and mushrooms as a side but each dish is designed to be complete, nothing else is necessary in theory, and mostly nothing wasted.
The sauteed pigeon breast, quince terrine, red wine lentils with garlic, and almond pesto is so delicate and interesting – the pigeon breast very tender and pseudo-gamey – thus not distracting the delicacy of the dish.
The classy hot mixed fish plate with roasted new potatoes, tomatoes, and garlic butter is a treat and Aladdin’s cave of submarine treats and textures!
We seem to have ordered an even mix of fish and meat and the rack of Hampshire lamb, braised shoulder croquette with charred tender stem and port jus is just a classic – from the presentation to the earthy taste of the lamb set off by the jus.
We move on to a selection of stickie wines; a Madeira, Sauternes and Black Muscat – not to be slurped at speed before the deserts arrive! In the nick of time…
Pistachio pannacotta with stewed grenadine rhubarb is welcomed by all and consumed in a flash of spoons at sunset and the vegan meringue shows off a sensitive edge from the kitchen – the texture just perfect and the berries a seasonal delight.
We close with a selection of regional cheeses and reflect on our history with the Guildhall Tavern – one that we continue to forge – it’s a real treat and if you want to extend your stay there are three beautifully appointed (of course!) Guildhall Chambers Apartments are attached to the restaurant, bookable through AirBnB, what a classy way to extend your night. And newly added for 2023 a luxurious cocktail bar that would leave Dubai in awe!