EVER since it first opened in the summer of 2017, Brasserie Blanc led by Michelin star chef Raymond Blanc, has remained one of the most popular restaurants in Bournemouth.

It certainly does the authentic French brasserie look very well, crisp white napkins, banquette seating and an air of relaxed wining and dining at surprisingly good value for money with various set menus and seasonal offers.

The Bournemouth site was the first to open inside a hotel, the Highcliff Marriott perched on the cliff tops overlooking the bay. You could be forgiven for wanting to visit just based on location alone, but this is a place that is popular with locals, not just tourists. The menu moves with the seasons (with an emphasis on fresh, sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients) but there are always a few staples that usually feature such as my favourite starter, cheese souffle (£6.95) made with tangy Wyke Farm cheddar sauce.

This time I opted for one of the new menu additions, Baked Saint-Marcellin Cheese (£8.50) – a pot of creamy melted mountain cheese with an exquisite drizzle of truffled honey and bread to dip. My husband chose Moules Mariniere (£6.95) a big pot of decent-sized mussels in a creamy sauce which was good enough to mop up with bread afterwards.

For mains, it’s always hard to resist the Malabar Fish Curry (£16.95), a vibrant, aromatic dish made with hake and toasted coconut which is like a taste of sunshine on a plate, but this time I decided to try one of the new Very Veggie dishes, Grilled Cauliflower Steak with Truffle Cream (£12.95) served with a walnut parsley pesto, cauliflower, aubergine and mushroom purée, sweet potato wedges and toasted nut crust. On paper it sounded like a sublime combination of textures and flavours, but it paled in comparison with my husband’s rich beef bourguignon (£17.75) a glorious and unusually, a whole blade of slow-cooked meat dripping in a red wine and lardon sauce topped with whole onions on a bed of creamy mash – cue real dinner envy.

To round off the meal, I tried Chocolate Indulgence (£6.95) which was so rich I couldn’t quite finish it (few diners do according to the waitress) and my husband went for Bramley Apple & Pear Crumble (£6.95) with Calvados creme fraiche, sublime.

Brasserie Blanc is a clever concept, perfectly filling that gap between local cafe and fine dining. The fare is fresh, authentic and elegantly delivered.

n This week Brasserie Blanc has launched its new Christmas menu (which includes beef bourguignon I’m pleased to say): three courses plus coffee/tea and a mince pie for £32.50 which is a pretty good deal for a restaurant of this calibre. And if you book and confirm a Christmas party before November 21 for any Monday or Tuesday in December, you will also get a free glass of bubbly on arrival.