ALTHOUGH it’s tucked away in the middle of a quiet, leafy suburb, The Inn In The Park, an impressive 18th century building in Poole, has always been popular with the locals. It’s perfect for a mid-week drink in a congenial atmosphere – and it’s dog-friendly too.

But it wasn’t our first choice for a meal out, as the restaurant always looked rather dark and uninviting and the bar food was basic pub grub and snacks.

Then in 2017 the place was completely refurbished both inside and out, including its five en-suite bedrooms. Now it’s under new management with husband and wife team Graham and Abi at the helm. Abi invited us to visit one Tuesday evening last month.

The pub is open plan, serving a range of real ales including Wadworth’s 6X, with open fires to make it cosy during the winter. Outside there is a good-sized, heated courtyard.

The restaurant looks warm and elegant and feels like an extension of the pub, rather than a separate zone, offering a broad selection of home-cooked food and a special menu which is changed twice a week. The menu is divided into nibbles while you wait, then starters and sharers, mains and puddings with an emphasis on fresh, locally supplied food. (There is also a gluten free menu which has been accredited by Coeliac UK).

For starters Abi recommended one of the specials, a pulled pork and black pudding croquette (£7.95) served in a pool of fresh pea purée and topped with an apple crisp. I’m not a big fan of black pudding but it added just the right balance of texture and meaty flavour.

We also had a huge portion of Halloumi chips (£6.50) between us, thick grilled slices of cheese served with sweet chilli sauce on a bed of peppery rocket leaves. They certainly don’t scrimp on portion sizes here and service if very friendly and efficient.

For his main course my husband had Pie of the Day, steak and ale on this occasion, which we were told had been handmade earlier that afternoon and was the last one left. It arrived piping hot, dominating half the plate, served with seasonal greens, creamy mashed potatoes and a pot of gravy (£14.50).

I opted for the Parmesan crusted chicken, succulent chicken breast in a light crumb coating nestling on a warm salad of potato, spinach, garden peas and garlic butter (£14.95) which was superb.

All puddings are priced at £7, and now we were familiar with the portion sizes we decided to share a homemade chocolate fudge brownie with walnuts, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream, which had just the right balance of sweetness, not too rich, to round off the meal.

This place is well worth a visit. And you don’t have to take our word for it, just look at any local social media sites and community groups at the moment and you will see people are all saying the same. This is a restaurant that deserves to do well. We will definitely be back.

New features include:

• New kitchen opening times – opening longer every day of the week including all day Saturday to 9.30pm.

• Dog friendly – including treats on the bar and a canine corner. Pets are welcome in allocated rooms too.

• New range of adult and child games and puzzles.

• Refurbishment of the beer garden with new umbrellas, heaters, blankets and cushions.

• Regular live music