EVEN if you don’t find cooking a chore, there are times when it is wonderful to sit back and let someone else do it for you. And the washing up as well.

And so it was that five of us from three generations made our way into the Dorset countryside for a celebratory birthday Sunday lunch.

Moreton Tearooms, which transforms into the Old School Bistro on Friday and Saturday evenings, has been named Best Tea Room in this year’s Taste of Dorset Awards – and rightly so.

As well as serving Sabbath goodies, the restaurant provides a pleasing range of weekday and Saturday meals, including breakfast, lunch, teas and ice creams. The food is locally sourced and the menus are mouth watering.

Glanced at from the outside, however, one might be forgiven for thinking that the tearooms will be typically and terrifyingly olde worlde, weighed down by an overdose of frills, floral tablecloths and industrial-grade gateaux.

A bad mistake to make. Inside, it is light, modern and airy with high ceilings and big windows. As well as the main restaurant, there are two snug ante-rooms which would be perfect for family groups and private parties, and an outside seating area for the warmer months.

In keeping with the building’s former existence as a schoolroom, the Sunday lunch menus were written on blackboards propped up on the mantelpiece.

There was a choice of three starters and five main courses including two fish and a vegetarian option. For those with a sweet tooth, there was an exceedingly dribblesome list of puds and a wicked selection of cakes on display on a wheeled cart, more of which later.

After much deliberation, three of us decided on starters and mains, while the birthday boy and his granddaughter opted for the main course and pudding.

We also ordered a bottle of house red, a Frobishers apple juice and a jug of water which came with pleasing amount of ice and lemon slices.

All three starters were represented. I dipped into an ocean of cream of tomato and roasted red pepper soup, which was wonderfully piquant and piping hot.

My husband’s game terrine, with toast and chutney, was a meal in itself.

Mum’s Portland crab cake with garlic mayonnaise and salad was declared perfect, with the freshness of the ingredients meriting special mention.

When it came to the main course, three of us chose roast sirloin of beef with Yorkshire puddings, potatoes and vegetables, while two settled on lemon sole cooked ‘en papillote’ with coriander, lemon butter, potatoes and vegetables.

The traditional roast was a mountain of tender meat with huge Yorkshires, three roast potatoes with wonderfully fluffy insides and a trio of new spuds. The lemon sole was thick, rich and creamy.

Sticky toffee pudding and a cinnamon rhubarb crumble were the chosen puddings, sampled by me to a chorus of grumblings from their rightful owners. Both were rich and dense without being cloying.

The bill came to exactly £100.

One of the joys of Moreton tearooms is that if you need to walk off your meal, you don’t have far to go. The nearby ford, with its inviting shallows, teeming shoals of fish and narrow bridge, is a great place for children to burn off any sticky toffee excess.

If you are looking for beautiful food in quintessentially British surroundings, this is the place to come.

Moreton Tea Rooms, Moreton, near Dorchester, 01929 463647