AT a time when town centres are being dominated by fast food outlets and national restaurant chains, independent, family-run places like The Lookout Café need to be acknowledged.

For this cosy, surprisingly spacious oasis, based at The Project Climbing Centre in the Dolphin Centre, must be one of Poole's best kept foodie secrets.

The Lookout Café prides itself on offering locally-sourced, homemade wholesome food in a relaxed, friendly environment.

When I first visited a few months ago with my daughter on her recommendation, there was a 'specials' board offering mac 'n' cheese with pork fillet for £6, veggie shepherd's pie for £5 and 'avo' toast with 'limey' rocket and chilli flakes for £4.50.

Other highlights include the locally roasted artisan coffee and their "almost famous" chocolate brownies.

To kick off I had an 8oz cappuccino made with locally roasted coffee beans by the Beanpress Coffee Company and a double shot of espresso for £2.20.

You can have it made with organic whole, coconut, soy or almond milk.

My daughter had a hot chocolate made with real Belgian chocolate (milk or dark chocolate) melted in milk to which you can add cream, flake and marshmallows from £2.20. Orange, rose or mint hot chocolates are also available as well as chai lattes, milkshakes, ice cream shakes, fresh juices and smoothies.

The main lunch menu features a range of soups made in the premises with fresh ingredients from a single bowl for £3.50 to soup and a single filling toastie for £5.50.

There is also a choice of sandwiches, toasties and salads from ham and cheese and tuna melts to goat's cheese and roast veg as well as Lookout Ploughman's with New Forest Ham (cooked to Gabi's Christmas recipe) local cheddar, pickles, homemade dips and freshly baked bread for £8.

I chose the hummus and falafel toastie with a thick spread of hummus, some Devonshire chilli jam and fresh spinach served with two deli salads for £6.

There is also a selection from the counter (all priced at £3) including sausage rolls made with New Forest outdoor reared pork with either apple or chorizo, Homity Pie with potato, cheese, spinach, leeks and cream, quiche and frittata.

So if you're looking for some hearty, good quality comfort food that is light on your wallet, you'll love it up there.

There's also free wifi. Open from Monday to Friday 12 to 9pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm.