FORMERLY Billy the Fish, Shelley’s Plaice, tucked away off Trinity Street in Dorchester, had no trouble luring my companion and I in for a maritime meal to remember.

This quirky venue, festooned with lobster pots, buoys and nets packed a visual surprise – and that was before we had even seen the menu.

If you’re into fish – and classic puns - then Shelley’s Plaice is essential dining. If not, you could try a steak but that would seem a waste of an opportunity to try a variety of locally caught sea food.

With an ever-changing menu largely dependent on the seasons, tides and luck of local fishermen it’s only once you sit at your table that you know what’s on offer.

My companion and I were presented, on this occasion, with sprats, tarbut, red mullet and monktail to name a few. The unpolished table service was forgiven in light of the upfront, ‘what you see is what you get’ nature of Shelley’s. Having chosen calamari to share as a starter, my companion opted for monktail kebabs as a main and red mullet was my choice. We soaked up the personal vibe of Shelley’s. Each table has a clear view of the kitchen, adding to the restaurant’s charm and allowing diners to converse with Shelley while she and her staff prepare each course.

The laid back pace means that food isn’t quick to your table, but when it arrives, it is worth the wait. The calamari came with a salad and tasted excellent. The subtle flavours were a gentle introduction to the fish feast to come. As a blanched crimson quartet, the red mullet was put before me. My partner’s monktail kebabs with further salad were quick to follow and as a side, some mixed veg.

The mullet met all expectations. The meat slid off the bone beautifully and the fish’s flavour was uninterrupted by unnecessary seasoning. My partner’s monktail kebabs were meaty and the salad crisp and sweet. The accompanying vegetables were also well executed but it was the fish that sole – sorry, stole – the show.

With the plim line of my stomach being nudged towards full capacity my partner and I seized upon the opportunity of dessert hoping not to sink our evening.

Again we were not disappointed. My Eton mess and my partner’s apple crumble were two welcome, generously-portioned classics to end a great evening out.

The Bill

1x calamari starter: £8.50

1x monktail kebabs: £12.50

1x mullet: £14

1x vegetables: £3.50

2x Coke: £4

1x Eton mess: £4.95

1x apple crumble: £4.95

TOTAL: £52.40