IF you're looking for a taste of sunshine without the long haul flight, then the new Seychelles Gastronomy restaurant which has just opened its doors in Bournemouth is the perfect place.

The restaurant in Bourne Avenue just off the town square, is run by husband and wife team Peter and Gee Smith who have relocated to the UK after running two restaurants on the islands off East Africa for several years.

The Bournemouth site was formerly occupied by the Salt n Pepper Indian restaurant (before that it was home to the popular Tapas Plus for many years).

It was a particularly cold and wet night in early November when we visited just a few weeks after it had opened so you would have needed a pretty vivid imagination to believe you were in the southern hemisphere!

But the welcome was certainly warm and sunny from Peter and his team who were attired in Hawaiian style shirts.

The restaurant is also brightly adorned with pictures and flags of the Seychelles and the wooden tables are covered with colourful place mats and hand carved wooden salt and pepper pots which Peter said had been imported from the island.

Peter offered to order a series of sample dishes from the menu to give us an overview of what's available while I studied the exotic sounding cocktail list. (All cocktails are £8 but on Fridays you can get 2 for 1 between 6pm and 8pm). There is also a good selection of fresh fruit juices, ice teas, spirits, beer, wine and Mocktails.

I tried Passion Power made with rum from the Seychelles, gin, passion fruit and mandarin syrup which was like a summer holiday in a glass.

Pre-dinner nibbles included banana chips, slivers of fresh coconut and dried cassava pieces presented in hollowed out coconut shells which made a nice change from the usual array of olives and salted nuts.

Next up was a Smoked Marlin Salad (£7). Apparently this rather exotic sounding fish is imported frozen from the island. It had a surprisingly meaty texture and was served in a mixed salad of sliced peppers, leaves, tomatoes, olives with a twist of mango and avocado and slices of garlic bread.

This was followed by a sharing platter including tempura king prawns, beef and herb skewers (£7) spicy fried chicken wings in a sweet chilli glaze (£6) served with a selection of sauces including tzatziki, an eye-watering hot chilli dip and a creole sauce made with the creole “trinity” (onions, bell peppers, and celery) as well as plenty of garlic. The soup of the day (£5) was made with pumpkin, bread fruit with split beans which tasted nourishing and wholesome.

For our main course selection we tried some red snapper fillet (£15) and yellow fin tuna steak (£15). Both had been pan fried in garlic butter and topped with a traditional creole sauce (or you can choose a passion fruit jus if you prefer) served on banana leaves with a choice of bread fruit or sweet potato wedges, plain rice or cassava wedges.

The highlight of the main courses was the octopus and aubergine curry (£14) which Peter said was a particular favourite dish in the Seychelles, an exquisite, aromatic sauce (you can can also order it with chicken, prawn, vegetables or tuna) served in a coconut bowl with a choice of garlic rice, plain rice, breadfruit wedges, sweet potato wedges or fries.

To round off this feast we had cooling quenelles of a banana and coconut nougat served with a choice of ice cream.

Apparently Peter's wife Gee who is from the Seychelles has been working the head chef to perfect the menu so it reflects "the diversity of the Seychellois people, a melting pot of European, African, Indian, Chines, and Portuguese" cultures.

Although it felt a little surreal on a winter's night, Seychelles Gastronomy boasts a large glass conservatory overlooking the central gardens which will be nice in the summer.

There's certainly nowhere quite like it locally. The food tastes fresh and authentic and there is plenty of choice including a selection of vegetarian options, an array of fish and seafood dishes and enough to satisfy hot curry lovers.