Behind the bar is a hatchway serving a family room, via a colourfully tiled passageway, with a solitary settle along one wall.A guide to edible molluscs and crustaceans on another proves far more informative than those overlong and overelaborate menus.I’m not quite sure what I expected to see through the double-glazed windows of a Dorset restaurant, to adapt Basil Fawlty to deaf guest Mrs Richards.But if it wasn’t Australia’s coral reefs or Niagara Falls, neither was it a vista as bleakly unprepossessing as this one.But the boy’s grilled lemon sole was dull, and my plaice with capers, coriander and crayfish butter equally tasteless.Relying on top-quality fish justifies the faintly eye-watering prices, but the less charismatic piscine lifeforms demand some imagination in the cooking.The main courses, which took too long to arrive, were as patchy as the starters; while the accompanying micro-salad was almost as irksome as the pious menu spiel about sustainable fish stocks.
A great mound of bubble-and-squeak comes topped with a couple of thick, locally cured rashers for just £4.75.
A sloping ceiling of nicotine brown is evidently a legacy of those distant days when a pint and a fag went together.
No ashtrays today, of course, but on every table is a sugar bowl that might have come from a restaurant car in the heyday of the Great Western Railway.
What an emotional roller-coaster ride it has been of late for this trendy west Dorset coastal resort.
Twelve days ago, the town rejoiced when one resident, P J Harvey, became the first musician to nab the Mercury Prize for a second time.
They belong to a different era from the gleaming espresso machine at the far end of the room.