THERE can be few finer places to enjoy a local, leisurely lunch at the waterside, than on the broad terrace of the Upper Deck restaurant at the Christchurch Harbour Hotel.

The art deco style restaurant is just a few footsteps from the shoreline, and offers relaxed coastal dining and menus designed by award-winning chef patron Alex Aitken.

Alex who retained a Michelin star for 14 years at Le Poussin and Limewood, is passionate about seasonal, local produce and has just relaunched the menu to offer a wider range for casual diners - see details below.

On a rare sunny afternoon, we went along for a family Sunday lunch kicking off with two ice cold gin and tonics made with local Conker gin, and a selection of ‘bites’ to share, including truffle Arancini (£3) little rice balls with a hint of truffle oil, light and crispy chicken popcorn (£3.50) and a tempura soft shell crab (£9).

You can go à la carte or you have the choice of set Sunday menus (available from midday to 2.30pm) offering two courses for £17.50 or three courses for £22.50.

And there’s plenty of choice, at least five starters - cauliflower parmesan soup, cod cheek with tartar sauce for example, although I always find it impossible to resist Alex Aitken’s famed cheese soufflé (it’s been a staple on the menus at The Jetty and The Kings Arms for years) because it never disappoints - it’s baked twice so you get a lovely light crust on the outside and a rich, creamy centre.

Main course options include roast prime aged sirloin steak or loin of Meadowbrook pork, Dex’s fish and chips and calves’ liver with creamy mash.

I chose hake with a crab and crumb topping served with a perfect globe of creamy mash and crushed peas, which was an elegant dish with a lovely combination of textures and favours.

But I admit that I had a pang of lunch envy when my husband’s roast arrived!

The steak filled half the plate and came with all the trimmings including roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, carrots, parsnips and a large Yorkshire pudding and plenty of gravy.

For dessert I was tempted to try the double chocolate brownie with cherry ice cream, but opted for classic creme brulee which was just how it should be with a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of crisp caramel, served at room temperature with a mini short bread biscuit on the side.

Although you don’t have to stick to the set Sunday lunch menu - you can always go à la carte, but it is good value for money. Alternatively you can switch between the two.

The Upper Deck also offers set dinner menus, two courses for £22.50 and three for £27.50, and has just extended the range of casual dining options to encourage more people to pop in for a light bite or snack at any time of day. Well worth a visit.