I ARRIVE at The Fish with eager expectations, having had rave recommendations from a colleague and an abundance of strangers on TripAdvisor.

My initial reaction doesn't disappoint: the clean and cosy décor matches the French charm of the staff, who lead us past a gigantic wall clock into the conservatory.

It is a Tuesday, and we qualify for the set menu –vastly cheaper than the a la carte options at £15.50 for two courses.

We begrudgingly accept that it is more suited to our budget and cast an eye over the sheet of A4, where options are limited.

I decide on chicken breast in mushroom sauce, while Georgina orders the battered cod and chips.

The conservatory later fills up but seems too quiet while we wait – I can hear word for word the next table's conversation, not to mention their audible chewing.

Thankfully I am distracted by the arrival of bread rolls and butter, which our grumbling tummies gratefully accept.

A short wait later, we are given our main courses.

I am slightly disappointed with the unimaginative presentation, and it does not look dissimilar to something I would cook myself at home.

Georgina notes I have been given an exceptionally large bowl of mayonnaise – which, on closer inspection, turns out to be my somewhat sloppy mashed potatoes.

The chicken itself is succulent and cooked well, but the sauce is too watery given that the menu promised "creamy" and does not cling to the meat.

I try some of Georgina's, which is tasty and has a lovely texture but is no more satisfying than that you would get in a fish and chip shop.

We hope that dessert might make up for it, though nothing really takes my fancy, and I order iced parfait.

It turns out to be tastier than it sounded, and bizarrely tastes like Christmas cake ice cream on top of a smudge of raspberry coulis.

We probably shot ourselves in the foot by taking the budget tour, and from the delighted expressions on other diners' faces it seemed the normal menu lived up to the hype.

I cannot fault the staff, who were professional and attentive throughout.

The Fish, Appleford Road, Sutton Courtenay, 01235 848242.