CHERRIES’ new ‘fan zone’ outside Vitality Stadium appears to have been a success towards the end of the Premier League season – but what is on offer for supporters pre-match?

After enjoying the fine food served in the Cherries press box by Adrian and co. for 18 Premier League games, it was time to try something new.

Cherries have recently trialled establishing a perimeter around Vitality Stadium where fans can enjoy a variety of food stalls and bars in build up to kick-off.

Whilst I was on the job there would be no sampling the drinks on offer, but that was probably a blessing in disguise as that was where the queues were concentrated.

Instead, the focus was on the food – and luckily, Saturday’s offering crossed multiple cuisines.

Cherries fans chant about Andoni Iraola enjoying Estrella and some paella, so how fitting that Idelica’s Tapas y Paellas were on hand to offer supporters the latter of the two.

I didn’t spot the Cherries boss queuing up, but with two big Paelleras on the go, there was virtually no wait.

The Ringwood-based caterers offer different services for different events, but here at Cherries it was plain and simple – a chicken and chorizo paella available for £10.

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Served in a bamboo bowl, the portion is a little on the small side, but considering how filling rice and meat can be it is hard to complain.

Sometimes elements of food served in mass quantities can be overcooked, especially meat, but the chicken in the dish was perfectly juicy and well-seasoned.

Combined with plenty of chorizo, there was a substantial amount of meat in proportion to the rice, which again can be lacking with food prepared in bulk.

Up next was Dorset Pizza Kitchen, a local company based in Poole.

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Choice was not limited here, with five different options.

Any other pizza than a margarita will cost just 50p more, so I shelled out for the classic pepperoni.

The service was very personable, which was a nice touch. After taking your order, they also take your name, meaning you can absent-mindedly scroll on your phone as you wait to be called.

Not that the wait was very long, with a pepperoni pizza cooked to order in about three or four minutes in Dorset Pizza Kitchen’s custom-made mobile pizza ovens.

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Do not be fooled by the singular slice of pepperoni – there was plenty more underneath all of that cheese.

And despite the hefty amount of cheese, it was not a greasy eating experience.

Having to try multiple dishes, I was very grateful that the pizza was served in a cardboard box, allowing me to sample just a slice before storing the remainder away in my car.

The pizza is decently sized, so it can certainly feed at least two people, and if you so desire, you can order a half-and-half pizza with two different toppings.

Considering the quantity of food you get, the price point is more than reasonable in comparison to other stadium foods around the country I have seen whilst covering Cherries this season, especially if split between two.

After tasting what the Mediterranean has to offer, it was time for a seaside classic.

Long John’s are a local fish & chips shop with locations in Poole and Wimborne, as well as offering mobile catering.

Whilst I’ve long since been acquainted with fish & chips having grown up in Dorset, I had never ordered from a mobile kiosk.

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There was no notable difference in quality, and much like the other two eateries, there was little waiting around.

After asking for a battered sausage and chips, I was quickly handed my order and shown to the sauces and condiments to the side.

It was a decent portion of golden chips, which were neither soggy nor dry. Battered sausages can also be quite greasy, but that was no concern with the part I sampled.

After trying one British summer staple, there was no other place to finish off than with another for dessert.

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There was plenty of options but only one real choice at an ice cream van called ‘Mr Whippy’.

Gone are the days when a 99 would cost 99p, but £3 seems inline with other ice cream trucks.

Overall, the prices seemed inline and fair with what I have seen at other grounds.

Perhaps the food offerings served in the concourses are cheaper, but you are certainly getting quality and something different with the food options outside the ground.

The variety, combined with the options served at the club kiosks, ensures that there is something for everyone.

Not everyone can say they’ve had paella at a Premier League ground – perhaps at least outside of hospitality!

In fact, the novelty of the paella - combined with the quality - placed it top of my rankings, with the pizza and fish & chips in close second and third.

That being said, there was not much between all three, with the pizza probably the best value for money.

Although I conducted my reviews shortly after the perimeter opened up at 12, there was a decent uptake of customers at all four options.

The majority of the people were situated beside the bar, as you would expect, but in fairness that was the best place to watch the big screen showing the early Premier League kick-off.

All in all, it seems that the club are on to a winner with the new perimeter and the options it provides fans – as long as the weather is as fine as it was on Saturday!

Have you tried the new food stalls on a matchday? What are your thoughts?