Most people have heard of The Boathouse, but lately there’s been more of a buzz about the place than usual.

The restaurant has always been renowned for its location, perched on the edge of Christchurch quay, and it has also built up a reputation for quality live music at the weekends.

But now it is also established as the place to go for excellent food and service and seems to be drawing people in from miles around.

Although it was a mid-week evening, it could have been a Friday or Saturday night with such a lively atmosphere.

We were given a warm welcome by the excellent restaurant manager Lukasz, a former restaurateur who could give a masterclass in good service and is passionate about fine food.

He certainly knows the menu inside out which features a good choice of fresh stone baked pizzas, locally sourced seafood, superfood salads, steaks and burgers.

On his recommendation we started with a selection of nibbles, warm bread served with herb infused salted butter and a dipping dish of olive oil and balsamic, plus a bowl of plump Sicilian green olives (£3.50).

Our first courses included scallops baked in their shells, doused in garlic butter and topped with plenty of fresh green herbs (£9) and Gambas Pil Pil, five fleshy tiger prawns that arrived sizzling in garlic oil with finely chopped chilli and chorizo (£9.50).

For mains I had one of the specials, sea bass (£18.95), an elegant dish served with tender Sopley asparagus on crushed new potatoes, drizzled with herb infused olive oil and topped with a generous handful of fresh leafy herbs.

My husband ordered rope grown Cornish moules and frites (£15.95) in a classic mariniere sauce. Lukasz had tried to persuade him to try them in a Thai red curry sauce and he brought a side dish with a sample of it so we could compare and it was a no brainier - the sauce was exquisite.

For dessert we shared a seasonal sounding blackberry trifle (£6) with white chocolate mascarpone, biscotti and hazelnut cream, topped with blackberries and served in a wide tapered glass so you could see each layer, topped with a lavish sprinkling of icing sugar.

If you’re a cheese fan, the cheeseboard is one of the best I’ve seen. I tried a sample of a tangy Winchester cheddar with a small glass of sweet sherry which was sublime.

These days, you often find that seafood is served with overpowering sauces and condiments which can mask the delicate flavours of the fish.

But The Boathouse is a perfect showcase for the simple, elegant and natural flavours of great seafood.

Quality ingredients, cooked simply and served in a relaxed, friendly environment.

The Boathouse, Quay Road, Christchurch T: 01202 480033 W: