IT is a truly surreal moment. I am sitting in a rather lovely restaurant, savouring a rather lovely steak.

Barely 100 yards away, in a 1930s art deco theatre, one of my favourite rock bands of all time is reliving my youth, blasting through tracks that defined and shaped my teenage years.

To be honest, I should be there, in amongst the fellow 50-somethings throwing air guitar shapes, but there really is something very special about this steak...

Barely a few months after opening its doors, there appears to be something very special about Number 9, Wimborne’s latest eaterie and the catalyst for a buzz of positive gossip.

It’s a tough time for restaurants, which is why any bidding to make their names need at least one secret weapon.

Number 9 has several.

Firstly, location. Slap bang on Wimborne’s busy West Borough, it’s close to the Square, it’s smart, but with a relaxed and convivial atmosphere. There’s plenty of history here too and parts of the building date back to the 18th century. There are outdoor seating areas to the left and rear – for people-watching and relaxing conversation respectively – and 60 covers inside two brightly-lit main dining areas.

Secondly, the staff. However good your food is, if it’s served by surly automatons more interested in texting their mates, you’re in trouble. What Number 9 has in abundance are friendly, helpful and relaxed staff who bond easily with their customers.

Thirdly, you’ve got to have someone commanding the kitchen who’s at the top of his game and there are few better chefs, in this county at least, than Greg Etheridge.

Ex-West Beach and Rising Sun in Poole, Greg is working his magic with a series of menus that cater perfectly for every taste and timing, from express pre-theatre menus for the nearby Tivoli, to fascinating lunches and on to languid dinners accompanied by reasonably-priced wines.

The dinner menu says everything about Number 9. Straightforward, competitively-priced, but with a genuine twist. The sea bass is Thai-infused, there’s ‘moules-frites’ with a difference and all the starters have that sprinkling of originality.

My pan-roasted lightly spiced duck breast came with both rhubarb ketchup and rocket salad and was a genuinely light and delicious precursor to a stunning 8oz Devon Red sirloin steak, Portobello mushroom, hand-cooked chips and Bearnaise sauce.

My wife chose the mussels in a cream, white wine and garlic sauce starter and had to fight me off dipping my bread into the sauce, while her tasty beer-battered cod and chunky chips was perfectly accompanied by a pea puree and tartare sauce.

The last thing I thought I wanted was a dessert. So the last thing I had was a dessert – of sticky toffee ice cream – while my wife went the whole hog with its hot pudding relation.

Owners Roy and Linda Tazzyman – Linda was the brains behind Pick More Daisies in Leigh Road – have created a warm and welcoming restaurant that delivers on every level.

Suitably satisfied and immensely impressed, we headed back to our car, ignoring the Tivoli Theatre where Wishbone Ash, the band I idolised as a spotty 14-year-old, were doubtless still rolling back the years.

The night, I decided, had already been good enough.