THE Chequers Inn shimmers in the darkness like an oasis in the middle of a desert.

After an age of cursing my confused satnav, the relief of finally finding it is palpable.

We trudge through the door hungry, huffy and half an hour late, but the smiling waitress who greets us does not seem to mind.

Thanks to the Christmas music and cheery decorations, my stress has already melted away by the time we take our seats next to the fire.

Though a strong swig of gin would still be welcome, as designated driver I settle for a half pint of Brakespear's ale (£2.05).

There are several tempting dishes on offer, from fresh mussels to slow-cooked pork belly.

We order a bread basket to start (£3.50), beef and truffle tortellini for my main (£15) and steak and ale pie for Tom's (£12.95).

Sadly we are not informed about the specials, until we overhear them being listed to the table behind us.

Thankfully our attention is diverted by the swift arrival of our starter - generous brown and white wodges of homemade bread.

It is accompanied by three flavoured butters (tomato, garlic and chive), an aubergine chutney and a pot of oil and balsamic glaze.

The butter is still solid so not easy to spread, but the rest is seriously moreish.

According to its website Mark, one half of the couple that runs the pub, bakes the bread every day and villagers regularly pop in to buy it.

It bodes well for our mains, which are presented soon after.

To Tom's disappointment they forget the gravy for his pie, but are apologetic and bring out a jug within the minute.

With the first mouthful of mine, I know the taxing trip to get here was well worth it.

The plump parcels of pasta are stuffed with a heady mix of earthy truffle and flavour-packed meat, encircled by a moat of indulgent sauce.

A pile of peppery watercress prevents it from being overwhelmingly rich, and I manage to polish off all but one tortellini shell.

Other than the pasta itself being slightly too thick in parts, I would struggle to fault it.

Tom's pie is also a hit, packed with tender cubes of steak, although the puff pastry lid is not quite enough to last every mouthful.

It is a Saturday night but there are only two or three other tables occupied in the restaurant, which surprises me.

With its cosy setting, friendly staff and delicious food, I would heartily encourage people to pay it a visit.

Just be sure to take a map so you don't end up halfway to Goring like we did.

The Chequers Inn, Berrick Salome, near Wallingford, 01865 891118.