Silicon Beach Bomo - Orientation Guide | The Triangle

The Triangle is just uphill of The Square on the NW side, 5 mins walk and reachable via a pedestrianised shopping precinct called Orchard Walk (after its earlier incarnation as Orchard Avenue), which has a mix of shops large and small. The main 'theme' the Council evidently wants to promote for the larger establishments is clothing chain stores, like Debenhams, Zara, H&M, BHS, Primark, and River Island - a Poundland there recently lost its lease to a sports-kit store selling trainers etc. However there is still a diversity of other types of retail outlet, from phone shops to tourist-souvenir shops to chemists/drugstores. Off the precinct halfway up is also The Avenue Shopping Arcade, with electronics and sports outfits, and a side entrance to the M&S store with a food hall selling takeaway sandwiches etc, but no cafes. You can also walk to the Triangle via the Central Gardens, turning left uphill at the playground just before the tennis courts, to exit by Avenue Rd Car Park. The route is mentioned in the Gardens' new signposting system.

The Triangle itself gets its name from the triangular open space accessed from the town Square via the top of the Orchard Walk pedestrian precinct, where the road cuts around. This was formerly a bus-park terminus for westbound routes. where the yellow buses parked overnight. There is now a pedestrianised space in front of the Library and some neighbouring cafes, notably Flirt Café Bar, which hosts literary events and has a sundeck extension on the pedestrianised area. This has stone-step style benches across the uphill side for office workers etc to eat their lunches on. There is a small green above the step benches.

 

Looking uphill, across the stone-step style benches towards the junction with Commercial Rd. The main problem with this space as far as peace and quiet goes is that motorbikes are for some reason allowed to use it as a shortcut, roaring through the pedestrian area. Despite the ground sloping, occasional French etc markets, similar to those held in the Square, are held here, especially around Xmas.

On the NE side, Avenue Rd curves up from the Square between the Gardens on the NE side, and on the SW side the other entrance to the Arcade /M&S, passing a multistorey car park opposite the Library. The new Central Library [2002-] is the most important building in this hub, with café side entrance by the front doors and two floors of library facilities above, including a computer suite and a large and a small meeting room. The rest of the ground floor of the library building facing the triangle is a row of shops by the bus stop.

Right: The pedestrianised area from the top of Orchard Walk (mouse over photo to see imqge of latter). The red canopy belongs to the sundeck extension of Flirt Café Bar.

On the far [ie W] side of this road winding up the hill is Atlântico Portuguese restaurant (fish n chips plus traditional food from Madeira), and ‘Bournemouth's only vegan and veggie lounge’ the Mad Cucumber (which also does arts events such as poetry evenings). The connecting roadway loops around the Triangle buildings opposite, past Omelettos takeaway (which bills itself as the first of its kind) and the Mint Leaf Indian Brasserie, by the bus stops. If you prefer a real-coffee place to a tax-dodging international chain, across from Starbucks is Espresso Kitchen, which has a small upstairs lunchroom.

The road loops around a wedge of buildings on the N side, called ‘The Branksome Oval’ forming one side of The Triangle. On the far side, Ojo Rojo, a new 2-storey Mexican restaurant, is on the corner. On the near side along Commercial Rd is the Four Horsemen pub, Lola's (formerly Lolita's, a long-established Spanish tapas restaurant), a 'bubble tea' shop, the Oriental Garden / Happy Diner [a Chinese takeaway/ restaurant], Smokin' Aces (which describes itself as a Cocktail Bar & Whiskey Lounge), and at the NW apex, Tico's, now renamed the Blue Hill Cafe & Bar [Portuguese food, English breakfast etc]. (This was formerly Battistini’s coffee shop, the first in town to have continental-style outdoor seating back in the 90s, and had to fight a battle with certain reactionary elements on the Council to do so - they claimed the sight of young women in short skirts sitting outside would cause drivers to crash their cars).


There are well over a dozen cafes, coffee shops, bars and restaurants around the Triangle, the close competition resulting in a certain amount of churn that has already seen several modest cafe enterprises close. Tara’s, pictured here, was a plain caff which also did Turkish breakfasts (the owners being Turkish); now closed, it may have been a victim of gentrification, due to so many other more upmarket eateries opening nearby.

Nearby: Across Commercial Rd is Rio internet café, a Thai cafe, and Funchal By Night [Portuguese dishes]. A Brewhouse & Kitchen outlet, part of a chain where the brewery and pub are integrated, recently opened on the site of the former Branksome Arms, with a large beer garden at the rear. This is near the entrance to St Michael’s Road [pictured right]. This heads up the steep hill to the SW, past an organic-foods shop to a loop road full of B&Bs and small cheap semi-residential hotels at the heart of Westcliff (potential short-term accommodation for any newly-arrived startups on a budget).

Right: St Michael's Rd seen from outside the Blue Hill cafe.

Beyond that, within walking distance, are some larger hotels with lounge facilities suitable for group meetings. Though currently scheduled for demolition, the closest is the Wessex Hotel, down West Hill Rd on West Cliff Rd [turn right], which has a large car park, spacious two-level lounge bar area, a function room for dinner-dance-type events, and an Italian restaurant downstairs [Amalfi]. The slightly more upmarket Connaught Spa Hotel, with evenings-only award-winning French restaurant, and a brasserie opening onto a terrace garden, is around the corner on West Hill Rd.

 

The Little Triangle, looking N towards Poole Hill. The boarded-up shop next to Rancho Steak House was a Kodak Express, a victim of the changeover to digital photography. The building on the traffic island was converted from a public convenience, initally as a Healthpoint centre, and now reopened as a restaurant with outdoor bench seating.

The Little Triangle
Heading W up Poole Hill, the side road forks around a small built-over traffic island nicknamed the Little Triangle. Since a Mexican restaurant died a lingering death on the corner, the only restaurant here has been the South-American style Rancho Steak House (for true carnivores) on the corner, but the building on the traffic island is now a 60-seat restaurant. It reopened as Bermuda Cafe but was made over as the Yeahman Caribbean Kitchen, with some outside seating. Opposite, just downhill across the main road [see below], there are a pair of long-established Italian places. Up on the corner with West Hill Rd is a handy sub-post office/stationers, on the E side beyond the Polish and Turkish delis, and next to it is the Jungle Cafe [ice-cream etc]. Just NW [turn right] along West Hill Rd is an award-winning local pub, the Goat & Tricycle, which has a partly-covered outdoor area in its former freight entrance, and is now open all day.

The main Poole Hill road west runs past the Little Triangle. Next to the corner is Steam Vintage Tea Rooms, which also does breakfasts. Opposite there are a pair of Italian restaurants, Pinocchio and La Piazza (where you can sit outside if you don't mind the traffic), and farther uphill the popular [reservations needed] Koh Thai Tapas restaurant and Olive Cafe Bistro [daytime only - English breakfast etc]. This stretch of road was once a hub for various PR firms, This may be the basis for the label "Bournemouth's Soho Quarter" on TripAdvisor etc. However this seems to have suffered a decline since the mid 2000s boom. One building now offers office space for short-term rental.
It may not be unrelated that several eating and drinking establishments here (PR people being so naturally gregarious) have since gone. However The Winchester pub has continued to flourish, as The Winchester Pub Theatre. It is bracketed by a pair of new nightclubs [one on the site of a closed-down one]. Canvas is a new loft bar with filmed music-showcase events. There is a plan to open Poole Hill Brewery, a service outlet for a Southbourne brewery, complete with a piano-bar, in the long-empty car-showroom premises beneath it. The new Olive Cafe Bistro [pictured left] is at the western end of this stretch, just before St Michael's church and the Cambridge Rd roundabout.

... and beyond: An archway on the near side of the main Poole Hill road just above the Triangle leads to a quiet residential road [Upper Norwich Rd]. You can walk W through here along Norwich Rd, crossing Cambridge Rd dual carriageway via a pedestrian underpass to reach a smaller centre on Queens Rd. On the corner of the side road [Bourne Close] is where Bournemouth West station stood, opposite the coach and car park, before its branch line was closed in 1965. The station building on the corner which became a pub is now a Coop . On Queens Rd, there is now a cafe [Platform 19] which has expanded to include weekend daytime and evening meals, a reincarnated Nepalese/Gurkha restaurant [now The Mountain] and an award-winning pizza place [Da Mario]. From the foot of Queens Rd, below the Wessex Way underpass, you can access the Central Gardens bike-/foot-path, which crosses the road here.

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