Nestled between the New Forest and the Dorset coast, The Lord Bute Hotel and Restaurant is an impressive looking building.

Once home to Lord Bute, the Prime Minister of England from 1762 to 1763, the venue is equally grand inside.

Now a boutique hotel, parts of the building used to be the original 18th century entrance lodges to Highcliffe Castle but have now been transformed into spacious, modern guest suites.

It also boasts a stylish and intimate setting for dinner, with an extremely popular jazz evening and set menu every Wednesday.

The Bernie Farrenden Trio were providing the entertainment on the night we ate in the restaurant, creating a lively atmosphere in the decadent black and gold dining room.

The set menu is obviously rather more limited than the main selection, but there was nevertheless a wide range of dishes to choose from.

I chose the cream of white onion soup to start, while my husband went for the pressed Dorset-reared pork rillette.

Service was unhurried – which added to the relaxed vibe of the evening – and we were offered a selection of home-made breads while we waited for our starters.

The soup, which was served with croutons and fresh chives, was smooth, full of flavour and just the right sized portion – mammoth bowls of soup which, while delicious, fill you up before a main course is something of a bugbear!

My husband’s pork dish was pronounced absolutely delicious.

We weren’t quite sure to expect, but have since learned a rillette is a preparation of meat similar to pate, where the meat is cubed or chopped, salted and cooked slowly until tender enough to be shredded, then cooled with fat to form a paste. It had a lovely sweet flavour and was beautifully complemented by the accompanying fruit chutney and baby leaves.

For our main meals, I was disappointed to learn the lamb shank had sold out, but the waiting staff quickly informed me a similar dish could be produced using lamb rump. My husband chose the roasted breast of corn fed chicken with a peppercorn cream sauce.

We were given plenty of time for our starters to go down before our mains arrived, absolutely piping hot and attractively presented.

The lamb was nice and tender and full of flavour, delicately enhanced by the accompanying herb mash and redcurrant and mint glaze.

My husband’s chicken was nice and moist and served with a tangy peppercorn sauce and crunchy parsnip crisps. We were also served a portion of seasonal vegetables each, which had been cooked to perfection and still had enough bite to retain the maximum amount of flavour.

Feeling fairly full, we decided we could manage a light dessert, so I chose the lemon and lime mousse while by husband opted for the cheeseboard. The mousse was a generous size and deliciously sharp, accompanied with a fresh lemon sorbet and fruit sauce. The cheeseboard was also a generous sized selection of water biscuits, English and continental cheeses.

We left feeling full and relaxed – what more could you ask for?

l The Lord Bute Hotel and Restaurant in Lymington Road, Highcliffe, is open for lunch from 12pm and dinner from 7pm Tuesday to Sunday (closed for Saturday lunch and Sunday evening). It offers Wednesday dinner jazz every week for £25.95 per person. To book call 01425 278884 or visit