One of the many things that appeals to me about the Butlin's Resort in Bognor Regis is the wide variety of food available across the many different restaurants on site. As a part of our Butlin's Ambassador's break in The Ocean Hotel we received the premium dining package, which included breakfast in our resident hotel each day and then a choice of five different restaurants for an evening meal; Turner's, South Coast (within The Shoreline Hotel), The Deck, Papa John's and The Beachcomber Inn.
The voucher is collected each morning from the butlers in the entrance of The Ocean Hotel, and completed with details of the chosen restaurant (if already decided upon) and the number of adults and children.
The key thing to note here is that it does not save money; it is not a discount voucher. What it provides is the opportunity to prepay for the dining options at the time of booking, rather than have to factor it into spending money. I think it's a truly efficient way of budgeting for the holiday, almost like a wristband at an all-inclusive resort, but with more subtlety. As the voucher is worth £13.50 for adults or £6.75 for children, it covers the cost of most two course meals on the resort. We had to pay one or two pounds extra when eating in The Beachcomber (but only because we actually had three courses), and an additional £10 (approximately) to eat in Turner's (further explanation later).
The Beachcomber Inn
I particularly like this pub-restaurant for its casual and relaxed atmosphere. Unlike a few of the dining halls, it doesn't feel like it caters to huge quantities of people, although that is more to do with the organisation as I didn't see an empty table on both occasions that we ate here.
Serving a wide selection of traditional pub meals, along with family favourites and modern light dishes, The Beachcomber Inn is a great choice to find something for everyone. Decorated in light wood with plenty of lighting, the pub is friendly and lends itself well to parties of all sizes.
Most main meals average out around the £8-10 bracket and we ate:
- Gigante Asparagus Pasta (V) £9.25
- Pasta Carbonara £8.45
- Chippy Chips £2.00
- Battered Whole Onion Rings £1.95
The Boy chose from the 'Pick'n'Mix Meals' menu which costs £3.50 per meal, and provides children with the visual option of choosing a potato or rice dish, a vegetable portion and then a fish, chicken or sausage selection. This menu is designed for the younger child, there is the Shipmates' Favourites for £4.99 which provides a range of more adventurous meals for older children. It's worth noting that there isn't a vegetarian option on the 'Pick'n'Mix' menu, but there are two pasta or noodles dishes available for older children.
The result of a collaboration with Brian Turner, Turner's Restaurant is a welcome addition to the Butlin's family and the jewel in the culinary crown. I had first eaten here in December 2010 when it had first opened, and was impressed with the ambience and quality of service then, so looked forward to returning with my family and seeing how well equipped it was to deal with the demands of a four year old child.
The main difference between Turner's and the other restaurants on site is that it is more adult in its vibe. Of course children are welcomed and there is an excellent children's menu with good home-cooked meals listed, akin to the food they would eat at home. However, it is waiter-service with everything cooked to order (not mass produced prior to opening) and therefore it's not really the place to let children chill out away from the table. If I was paying a fair price for a quiet, grown-up meal, I wouldn't appreciate it.
Main meals at Turner's are priced between £10-12 with fish and steak obviously priced slightly higher, starters are around the £5 mark with pudding priced similarly. There was a meal deal available at the time we went, with two or three set courses available for a set price. We ate:
- Roasted Tomato & Sweet Pepper Soup with Rarebit Toast £4.95 (starter)
- Macaroni Cheese with Slow Cooked Cherry Tomatoes £5.25 (starter)
- Aubergine & Spinach Rolls on Braised Cannellini Beans £11.75 (main)
- Turner’s Own Burger Steak with the Best Chips £11.50 (main)
- Marmalade Bread & Butter Pudding £5.25 (dessert)
- Peanut Butter Cheesecake £4.75 (dessert)
- a glass of Pinot Grigio Rosato del Veneto £4.15 (175ml)
- Golden Macaroni Cheese £3.00 (children's starter served as a main)
- A Selection of Ice Creams £3.00 (children's dessert)
I enjoyed the meal and thought that the vegetarian option was an exciting alternative to the standard pasta dishes available. My husband also enjoyed his burger, but he did admit that he wasn't overwhelmed by it and therefore slightly disappointed. The portion of macaroni cheese that he had to start was larger than The Boy's main meal of macaroni cheese, which unfortunately solidified and went cold quite quickly and he was unable to finish it due to this. The meal was pleasant enough but it didn't complete live up to the expectations that a 'celebrity restaurant' has. I also had expectations of near silver service from a restaurant of that calibre which has a maitre'd to seat people. Our waiter was quite clumsy, not very attentive (we actually asked a different waiter to serve us) and didn't bring the food at the same time.
Would I go again? Probably, but I'd be very selective of our meals to ensure we had the best value.
Everyone enjoys a pizza restaurant and Papa John's has to be one of the easiest places to eat at on the Bognor Regis resort. There is an all-you-can-eat lunchtime buffet available before the evening rush as well, which we partook of on our first evening there. We missed it by half an hour on our second stay, and I will admit that the speed of service wasn't as fast as I'd hope for with a fast-food pizza restaurant.
The pizza menu is good quality with a wide range of meat toppings, although the range of toppings for vegetarians isn't very exciting. We ate:
- a Garden Party pizza (medium – 11.5") £12.95
- a Chicken BBQ pizza (medium – 11.5") £13.45
- a ham and cheese pizza (children's) £3.45
The pizzas are tasty, it's worth noting that they are American style not Italian based, but I'm not completely convinced that they are worth the prices. Of course, prices are more than in Pizza Hut for example, as it is the convenience that inflates the price. However, as my pizza in this fast-food restaurant cost more than my main meal in Turner's, I think my tip is to eat here during the all-you-can-eat buffet time.
The Deck Restaurant
The Deck was our favourite (and easiest) place to eat throughout the week. Yes it's busy (it's the main restaurant for The Wave Hotel) but I actually really enjoyed the friendly, chatty environment listening to family parties having fun, laughing about their day.
There is no menu at The Deck, because it is a self-service restaurant with the all-you-can-eat philosophy. And there is something for everyone here; from salads to freshly cooked to order pasta, roast dinners to hot dogs and chips, stir-fries to mushy peas! The selection is immense and it is all really good quality.
The pasta station is a genius touch; each dish is cooked freshly and to order. The selection of children's meals is excellent and it is laid out so that older children can easily help themselves to the goodies. Desserts included formal gateaux and tarts, alongside rice pudding, fruit and an ice-cream machine which sent children into raptures.
After a packed day of activities, The Deck is the place to come and relax. I would visit this restaurant every night of the week and never tire of the range of food available.