LIKE many Christchurch residents, my husband and I have walked right past the doors of Splinters probably twice a month, and never ventured inside.

So it was with some surprise when we eventually went through the doors what a cosy, welcoming restaurant it is.

Larger than it first appears, the family-run restaurant, which has been in existence for several decades and in the same hands for the last nine years, is made up of several small rooms, meaning it’s equally perfect for an intimate dinner a deux or a bigger, family do.

Our drinks orders were taken in the bar area and we were seated with a menu and some olives and pistachios to pick on while we chose our meal.

Diners are invited to continue relaxing in the bar while their food is prepared, before being shown to their table – in one of several differently decorated rooms - ready to eat.

Being a Wednesday evening, we were offered the Midweek Dinner Menu to choose from, a smaller, yet still varied, selection.

One course is priced £14.50, two courses £20.50, three courses £26.50.

It was a wet and windy evening, so the cream of curried parsnip and apple soup was the only choice for me, while my husband opted for the smoked mackerel mousse, which was served with a beetroot and horseradish salad.

To follow, I chose the breast of chicken with an onion and bacon jus and fondant potato, while my husband went for the sirloin steak with sautéed potatoes and brandy and peppercorn sauce.

We were shown to our table – a wooden booth (the carpenter reportedly suffered from splinters while installing the seats, and the restaurant has been named after his experience ever since), which was comfortable and cosy.

A warm granary roll and butter arrived just before our starters.

The soup was deliciously spicy with a delicate curry flavour, the perfect winter warmer and beautifully presented alongside some sliced apple garnish.

My husband’s mousse was delightfully soft and creamy and well complemented by the accompanying salad.

Our mains arrived promptly along with some carrots, courgettes and mange touts.

The chicken was beautifully tender and the potato crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, while I just couldn’t get enough of the onion and bacon jus. Divine.

My husband’s steak went down equally well – cooked to perfection with deliciously crispy potatoes and a wonderfully rich sauce.

We were both well satisfied, but just couldn’t resist a sneaky peek at the dessert menu.

I was lured by the white and dark chocolate tart, while my husband thought he could just squeeze in some cheese and biscuits.

A suitable break allowed us some breathing space before they arrived.

The tart was melt-in-the-mouth creamy and accompanied by delicious vanilla ice cream, but I had to admit defeat half-way through.

A selection of tangy cheeses and crackers was the perfect way to finish the meal.

But the “Splinters Journey” wasn’t over yet – we were offered coffees in the upstairs lounge.

Comfy sofas and a real homely feel was the perfect way to relax after our indulgences and we very nearly drifted off up there – apparently we wouldn’t have been the first to do so!

I’m practically certain we won’t walk past Splinters without going in again in a hurry.

• To find out more, or to book a table, visit splinters.uk.com or telephone 01202 483 454.