RENOWNED restaurateur Andy Lennox was 21 when he launched Koh ten years ago which went on to become one of the most successful Thai restaurant groups in the south west.

So there has been much intrigue surrounding his latest venture Zim Braai, which opens its doors on Thursday, December 6.

Zim Braai in Ashley Cross, will specialise in dishes inspired by traditional southern African food with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced locally where possible.

We caught up with Andy to get a taste of what diners can expect...

What inspired you to focus on Southern African food?

"I felt the UK restaurant sector was missing an accessible African concept," says Andy.

"Diners are eager for, and highly receptive to international cuisine based upon the success and popularity of various distinct flavours and ways of serving food that have emerged in recent years. I’ve been exploring Southern African food culture for a while and I decided that I wanted to deliver it as a new proposition – its bold, it has so many flavours and there is so much to choose from.

Tell us more about what's on the menu?

Slow cooked Braai’d meats and game, grilled fish, amazing stews and curries, loads of flavours – healthy, hearty “good for you” food. There is something for everyone, it offers a tantalising new foodie experience for the taste buds! It’s not just South Africa, but Southern Africa, and that encompasses a world of styles, recipes and ingredients.

What are some of your favourite dishes on the new menu?

The Zimbabwean Dovi – which is a hearty, peanut based stew is becoming a firm favourite, the grilled seabass is going to be amazing & the Forrester Steak Tartare named after the legendary wine maker is truly awesome. Also, launching in winter means that the warming potije stews and curries are a going to go down a storm. Not to mention the serious meat we have on the menu.

You hope the restaurant will also be a favourite amongst vegetarians and vegans, why?

Yes – whilst the braai is traditional for big meats and game which is very much where we are focused and frankly it’s going to be a meat-eaters heaven, but, with the increasing take-up of what people call plant-based or flexitarian eating for a day or so each week or as a lifestyle choice, we are also going to incorporate some awesome grilled dishes like zucchini and aubergine as well as the Mozam Vegetable stew (amongst others) we can create dishes rich in vegetables, fruit, beans, herbs, spices and traditional sauces. Salads, rice, soups and breads – all can be meat/fish free.

Andy says he hoped to open several Zim Braai restaurants across his native Dorset over the next few years.

"I must admit I was nervous when we launched our first Thai tapas offering 10 years ago, but here I am, at the start of another new adventure, after an amazing decade building Koh."