With its sweeping staircase and Georgian features, Custom House is one of the most imposing buildings along Poole Quay.

Its impressive facade houses a bar and private function room, frequently used for weddings, while the middle floor features the Maison a la carte restaurant, which we visited for a mid-week meal.

The minimalist decor of the restaurant complements the grandeur of the historic building, which is also used to showcase stunning work by a local artist, while the view over the waters of Poole Quay adds to the atmosphere and makes for a very relaxed, calming environment.

Maison’s menu features a mix of English/ French cuisine and the restaurant specialises in fish and meat dishes, priding itself on its locally sourced produce, the furthest of which comes from Hampshire.

We chose some fresh bread served with homemade pesto and red pepper hummus (£2.50) while we perused the varied menu. The bread was deliciously soft while the accompaniments both had a pleasing tang and proved a wonderful warmer for a chilly spring evening.

I selected the seasonal homemade soup (£4.95) to start, which was carrot and coriander, while my husband chose the potted shrimp (£5.95).

Our food arrived without delay and I was pleased by the bowl of steaming soup, which was the perfect-sized portion – unlike many other restaurants which serve a huge dish which I find much too filling.

The soup had a lovely sweet flavour, with the fresh coriander adding a little warmth to the dish.

My husband’s shrimp, served with rocket salad and brown toast, had quite a crumbly texture, but the tiny shrimps were tasty and juicy.

For our main meals, we chose the braised lamb shank (£18.95) – I’m a real sucker for a winter warmer – and the 21-day aged Sirloin steak (£19.95).

We were left to digest our starters for a suitable time before the dishes arrived, and were struck by how beautifully presented they were.

The lamb was just how I like it – melt-in-the-mouth tender – and literally fell off the bone, and the tangy mustard flavour added a pleasing twist to the mashed potato. The dish was also served with winter greens and a warming rosemary jus.

My husband’s steak was accompanied by grilled flat mushrooms and a peppercorn cream and he chose to swap the sautéed new potatoes for hand cut chips.

The meat was cooked to perfection, tender and juicy, while the chips were crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside and the creamy sauce added a little heat to the dish.

We were pleased to have room left for dessert. I was drawn to the Baileys crème brulee (£6.95) and my husband went for the homemade apple and berry crumble (£6.95).

I was concerned the crème brulee might be too rich, but it had just a light Baileys flavour, with a satisfyingly crisp top covering velvety smooth cream.

The crumble, which was served with vanilla bean ice cream, also had a crunchy topping, while the fruit was soft but still retained a lot of its sweet flavour.

Excellent food, in a relaxed atmosphere. Well worth a visit.