COMPTON Acres in Poole has long been renowned for its beautiful gardens, but its reputation for serving fine food has also started to blossom.

We had lunch at the Cafe Tea Rooms which are situated near the gift shops at the entrance to the gardens, and it was particularly busy as it was a sunny day during the Easter holidays.

After a short wait we were shown to a table near the large glass doors overlooking the picturesque courtyard which was adorned with plants in full bloom.

We were given a daily specials menu and the main menu which includes a selection of freshly made English specialities such as cooked breakfasts and homemade organic porridge with a dried fruit compote.

The lunch menu features handmade soup, fresh warm salads and quiches with a selection of fillings.

After eyeing up the substantial doorstop sandwiches at the neighbouring table, I could see that the portions looked like good value for money.

I decided to stick with the daily specials menu and was tempted by the quiche of the day, which on this occasion was either three cheese and rocket as the vegetarian option or quiche lorraine.

The smashed avocado with toasted sun dried tomato bread with smoked bacon, free range poached egg and hollandaise sauce also sound like a tempting combination.

In the end, I couldn't resist the risotto with Lyme Bay crab which was served in a large white bowl with a side dish of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

The rice was perfectly cooked, rich and creamy, with a good smattering of crab meat and some fresh dill and spring onion which really enhanced the flavour.

My other half chose Dorset home cooked gammon from the main menu, which included three thick slices marinated in cider and served with two poached eggs, chips and the cafe's own plum & tomato chutney.

But the highlight of the meal was the dessert, and as someone who usually prefers savoury to sweet, this doesn't happen very often.

The banana tart tatin was possibly one of the best I've tasted in a long time. The fruit filling was fluffy and not too sweet, encased in a light short crust pastry, and served warm with a dollop of salted caramel Purbeck ice cream topped with a wafer. I almost scraped the glaze off the plate.

Everything is cooked on the premises - even the lemon curd for the cakes. According to our excellent waiter, Compton's "cake ladies" arrive at 2am to start baking for the day.

So if you're looking for a new place for a hearty breakfast, light bite or afternoon tea, Compton Acres is one to remember, and if you do over indulge, you can always work it off afterwards with a vigorous walk around the ten acre estate.


Risotto £8.95

Banana Tart Tatin £4.95

I glass of Sauvignon Blanc Inspira from Chile £3.95

TOTAL: £17.85