I AM not in the best of moods when I arrive at the King's Arms, having had an argument with the Satnav on the way here and finding that I have to pay for the pleasure of parking outside.

According to a regular stood smoking outside, pub guests are reimbursed for the £1 expense, though he assures us there are no attendants patrolling the bays at this time on a Sunday.

If I had hoped a chirpy welcome might lift my spirits, I would have been disappointed.

We find ourselves awkwardly hovering by the 'wait here to be seated' sign and tentatively cross to the bar to seek acknowledgement.

After a few minutes of polishing glasses and ignoring us, the barman grabs us some menus and shows us to a table in a corner of the restaurant.

The window next to us makes the most of the pub's fantastic location on The Thames, looking out onto the inky water where I can see a heron stalking the surface for its dinner.

Decor is identical to other Chef & Brewer pubs I have dined at: vintage style wallpaper and a slate grey colour scheme, with modern striped carpets and a myriad of feature mirrors.

I decide to share a starter of duck croquettes (£5.49) with Tom, before making mental apologies to hungry Mr Heron and ordering fish pie (£10.49) for my main.

The two crispy croquettes arrive and I am surprised by their flavour – a beautiful balance of Asian ingredients mixed with ribbons of cucumber and a spoonful of hoisin risotto.

They are more delicately presented than my main, which comes with an uninspiring array of unseasoned veg.

The pie, however, has a lovely flavour, the creamy fish sauce topped with smooth mash and bubbling cheese.

The fish is overcooked, to the point that the salmon has been drained of colour, but I had not expected much else from a chain pub.

It has the makings of a very pleasant place for a casual meal, but a smile and some small-talk from the staff wouldn't go amiss.

The King's Arms, Church Road, Sandford-on-Thames, 01865 777095.