Dorset is a very Cosmopolitan place when it comes to eating out.

There a whole host of restaurants offering tantalising fare from countries across the globe, but sometimes you just want a classic British dish.

Bates Restaurant in Charminster has a menu full of traditional English meals, including prawn cocktail and melon to start, steak and chicken for main, and desserts including sherry trifle, peach melba and knickerbocker glory.

Situated in the Five Ways area of Charminster Road, it's a restaurant you've probably driven past hundreds of times and not even realised it's there.

But Bates has been a popular family eaterie for 14 years and, chatting to colleagues and friends before we go for our meal, no one has a bad word to say about it.

That may explain why it's surprisingly busy for a Tuesday evening, with both couples and larger parties enjoying the ambience.

The decor may not be as contemporary as many of the newer restaurants in town, but the place is spotless and instantly feels cosy and relaxed.

We are presented with both an a la carte and evening specials menu, which offers variations on the main theme.

I settle for the melon and orange cocktail (£4.25) to start, followed by the Dijon glazed chicken breast (£14.95), while my husband chose the garlic mushrooms (£4.45) and the 16oz t-bone steak (£18.95).

Despite there being a rather large party in, there was no delay in our starters arriving, both of which were generous sizes.

My melon was fresh and juicy, with the sweetness offset beautifully by the sharpness of the accompanying strawberries. The dish was attractively topped with Fonescca Port.

The mushrooms were piping hot and braised in a rich garlic sauce, topped with tangy melted cheese - simply delicious.

Our empty dishes were quickly whipped away and replaced with our main courses, which were served with several dishes of steaming fresh vegetables, new and deliciously crispy, sauteed potatoes, as well as a portion of chips to accompany the steak.

My chicken was sauteed with shallots and mushrooms and finished with a white wine and cream sauce. I could have done with a little more of the tasty sauce to dip the veggies into, but other than that I couldn't fault the dish.

The steak, which was served with grilled tomatoes and a handful of mushrooms, was cooked perfectly and, like everything else, was generous in size, while the chips were pleasingly lacking in grease, yet lovely and fluffy inside.

By this time we were feeling rather full, having done our best to finish off the more-ish saute potatoes, but just couldn't resist something sweet from the patisserie cabinet to finish off.

My husband decided on the caramel apple pie, served with custard (£4.55), while I opted for some chocolate ice cream.

Both desserts were extremely satisfying, but we sadly had to admit defeat.

Good food, pleasant surroundings and friendly staff - what more could you ask for?

*, 01202 240310