Upper Deck Bar and Restaurant, Christchurch

A vibrant waterside dining room and just-hauled- from-the-ocean fish cooked on the plancha set the scene for a smart lunch in Dorset’s Upper Deck Bar and Restaurant, discovers Jo Rees

The Upper Deck is looking pretty swish since its spruce up a few months ago: a blast of vibrant colour has given the elegant architecture a smartly contemporary vibe – but it still pales in comparison to the shimmering harbourscape outside the windows.

VISIT to feast on piscatorial plates by the water. If the weather allows, get out on the terrace and inhale the sweet briny breeze as you toast your good fortune with a glass of lusciously apricot Nederburg chenin blanc.

The à la carte menu is strong on seafood with the likes of scallops (choose how many) with garlic butter, and rich spiced thermidor crab baked in the half shell to start. For mains, the star attraction is definitely the grill menu of fish which includes lemon sole, sea bream and plaice, with a supporting cast of sides and sauces. There are a few meaty dishes too, of course – Dorset best end of lamb, fillet steak, a chateaubriand to share – but when in Rome …

DON’T VISIT after a big breakfast: the portions are generous and the dishes rich. In fact, a grilled fish with a few sides to share would happily feed two, so a beautiful whole lemon sole at £22 (plus sides) turns out to be good value. And you’ll want to leave room for pud.

WE LIKED our waiter Raphael’s flamboyant charm and helpful recommendations which added theatre to the whole event.

Insider's tip

There's a daily set lunch which at £17.50 for two courses or £22.50 for three is an easy way to enjoy the location. Or blow the budget and head next door to sister restaurant The Jetty, for seafood with swank.

What we ate (lunch – à la carte)

Starter Christchurch crab in spiced thermidor sauce, baked in the half shell

Main Whole grilled sea bream, posh truffle chips with parmesan, wilted spinach

Pud Passionfruit trifle

3 courses from £25

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