WITH a view to die for, a relaxed yet sophisticated air and simply stunning food, it’s no wonder La Roche has been awarded two AA red rosettes for the last 18 years.

The critically acclaimed restaurant, one of two at The Haven Hotel in Sandbanks, has a reputation for first class food and first class service.

Simply decorated in neutral shades, the interior is always going to come a close second to the stunning view, as the seating arrangements are such that diners are directed out across the unrivalled vista of Poole harbour entrance.

During the week there is a fixed price menu of £22.50 for two courses, or £29.50 for three courses, as well as a special Sunday lunch menu and a Lite Bites selection.

All menus are regularly changed to capture the essence of the seasons and feature locally sourced produce including herbs from the hotel’s own garden.

Head chef Jason Hornbuckle prepared a taster menu for us, allowing us to sample several of the restaurant’s best dishes.

The taster menu will be available on Friday and Saturday nights from June throughout the summer priced at £65 for six courses.

While we waited for our first course to arrive, we tucked into deliciously warm home-baked rolls and savoured the laid-back ambience of our surroundings.

We were shortly served with a pre-starter of trout rillette, accompanied by smoked mayonnaise and an apple salad.

The immaculately-presented dish had a deliciously smoked flavour and was perfectly complemented by the tangy mayonnaise.

Next was a starter of confit duck pressing, served with walnuts, beetroot and fine beans.

The cold meat was beautifully tender and very more-ish, while the sweetness of the beetroot and the crunch of the walnuts made for a textural treat of an accompaniment.

Our main course was pork fillet served with savoy cabbage, carrot mash and caramelised shallot. The pork was, quite literally, melt-in-the-mouth butter-soft, with deliciously sweet vegetables served in a variety of ways. Not usually big fans of cabbage, my husband and I were surprised at just how tasty the serving was.

The accompanying potato was also cooked to perfection – crisp on the outside, yet fluffy in the middle, and the carrot mash was beautifully smooth.

Quite full by this point, we were apprehensive about fitting in one dessert, let alone the two we were promised.

But they were both just too tempting.

First up was the chocolate delice – similar to a mousse – served with orange puree, chocolate sorbet and orange jelly.

The subtlety and freshness of the orange flavour perfectly complemented the chocolate, which somehow managed to be both rich and light at the same time.

It left us just the right amount of space to squeeze in the hazelnut sponge, served with poached blackberries and crème fraiche sorbet.

I had to admit I was beaten in the end by this final dish, which had a beautifully nutty, almost treacly flavour and was firm enough to stay in one piece on the plate, yet crumbly enough to dissolve in the mouth.

We left stuffed, but satisfied.

• To make a reservation at La Roche, or The Haven Hotel’s main restaurant, call 01202 707333.