Boheme Coffee Lounge and Bar, 307 Ashley Road, Parkstone

IT is nearly two years since Lou and Alison Wellman opened Boheme, intending not only to bring good coffee to Upper Parkstone but to give the whole area a bit of a lift.

The idea was great and so was the execution, but those who had seen a few businesses come and go in the area may have feared it wouldn’t work.

Fortunately, it has. Not only have they built up a loyal following for their drinks and food, but they have stepped up the offer by adding two crucial words to the end of the business’s name, turning it into Boheme Coffee Lounge and Bar.

You would barely notice the difference in the daytime. It’s the same stylish but informal venue, catering for everybody from parents finishing the school run to professional people looking to get on with some work on the laptop.

But on Friday and Saturday evenings, it has become a place where you can drop in and treat yourself to a cocktail, a glass of wine or beer, and choose from an evening food menu.

Boheme’s interior turns out to be perfect for the evening atmosphere the Wellmans are trying to create. The wood-panelled walls, the fireplace, leather arm chairs and sofas, all make the surroundings instantly cosy and welcoming on a chilly night. There’s a little shelf of card and board games which you can take out in case the conversation should run dry.

Lou is responsible for the cocktail menu.

I tried an espresso martini – Boheme's own recipe, blending Ciroc vanilla vodka, Kahlua and house espresso, mixed with chocolate and cinnamon – which was beautifully dark and creamy. My guest had an Aperol Spritz, an altogether lighter option offering a refreshing mix of Prosecco, Aperol and soda on ice.

At Lou’s suggestion, I tried something I’d never had before: A Pisco sour, containing with Pisco (grape brandy), aquafaba, angostura bitters, sugar and lime juice shaken over ice. It’s a foamy, frothy confection which memorably blends sweet and sharp flavours, and something I would definitely enjoy again.

Cocktails are priced between £7 and £9, which makes them an occasional indulgence for most people, but you could pay much more in less convivial surroundings elsewhere.

The evening food menu includes four kinds of gourmet burger for between £6.50 and £8.80 and, for the vegetarian, no fewer than three spicy bean burgers from £6.50-£7. There are several side dishes and snacks, and the atmosphere is equally comfortable whether or not you are eating.

The evenings were still cold when we visited, and we rounded the night off with warming alcoholic hot drinks before the walk home – a hot chocolate with Cointreau and a Bailey’s latte.

But while the venue was ideal for nipping in on a chilly night, I can imagine it being equally good when the evenings turn warm and customers get to sip cold drinks in the courtyard garden at the back and its little beach huts. (That concept will be familiar to you if you’ve been to a Brewhouse and Kitchen.)

I’ve been really pleased to see Boheme catch on so successfully in the daytime. It deserves its success and hopefully it will establish itself as a great alternative to a traditional pub or restaurant at night.