It may be tucked away in a side street in Old Town Poole, but The Guildhall Tavern has made a name for itself as the go-to restaurant for fine, French-themed cuisine.

Following last year's refurbishment, which saw the creation of a new outside dining area, chef patron Frederic Seweryn is now focusing on revamping the restaurant's a la carte menu.

He and the rest of the team, who have worked together for more than ten years, have come up with a range of new ideas - all tried and tested on the regular clientele through the daily-changing specials board - to update the cuisine for 2016.

The result is a move away from the more traditional French dishes of Frederic's roots, with some more unusual pairings now dominating the menu.

"We can't just change the fish which already exist in the sea," he smiles, "it's just new recipes to make things a bit more attractive - the new clientele we've got is a big younger now.

"The best sellers are the monkfish, which is a bit spicy, and the salmon, which is slow-cooked for an hour at 30 degrees, which is very unusual - usually it's flash cooked. It's just dipped in olive oil and slowly cooked in the oven. That makes it very tender. The dressing will be made with vanilla. That's unusual, but it's a good marriage between the two. It's surprising when you see it, but once you've tasted it it's fantastic."

While Frederic has been experimenting with new ideas, he is careful to keep to what he knows his customers enjoy - and that includes a bit of showmanship.

"If you've tried the flambe pancake before, you will be surprised with the new amazing Guildhall Tavern chocolate pudding, because it's a kind of show we are doing at the table as well.

"There's no flame, but we pour some hot chocolate sauce in front of the customer on a chocolate dome and the dome is melting and you discover what's inside. So there's a little surprise."

Much of the inspiration for the new menu has come from Frederic and wife Severine's travels, as well as input from the all-French team.

"My wife and I have visited different countries and places because it's part of our job, but also we like it," he says.

"When we go somewhere nice we try and bring some new ideas. They're not necessarily French dishes, but people do come for the fresh fish and the French cuisine. All the staff are French in the kitchen as well as front of house - I think people like it."

Frederic uses fresh, local produce as much as possible, with crab and lobster supplied by local fisherman Rob Channon, and skate, cod and Dover sole from another well-known supplier, known simply as Bert.

For those who want the full French experience, the restaurant runs monthly French evenings with a set menu - as well as the regular a la carte - a French quiz and live music.

The Guildhall Tavern also offers private parties and wedding receptions, as well as a take-away seafood platter, which is now available to order from the website, which also features regular offers and an online booking service.

"Our outside area is going to be open in the spring, hopefully, if the weather is good," says Frederic.

"The staff are happy here and dedicated to the regular people. We always see the same faces, so we know what people like here."

(BLOB) The Guildhall Tavern will be open for Valentine's Day. To find out more, or book a table, visit or call 01202 671717.