I HAD walked past the front of Spice Valley so many times when using the car park in front, that I thought I should do them the service of trying their food.

I’m a big fan of Indian and Mrs Hughes and I have been slowly working our way around the curry houses of Oxfordshire but, despite their being in Abingdon for 19 years, neither of us had ever trekked through the valley.

Part of the reason (and also part of its charm) may be the location – unless you were using the car park, which itself is out of the way, you would never know it is there.

But despite being hidden, Spice Valley is far from diminutive: in fact, as we strolled in, we realised it is one huge cavernous room, subtly divided with stringy curtains and decorated with a huge stone fountain in the centre.

We were greeted warmly and offered a seat by the radiator, which was thoughtful.

The menus we were brought with our Kingfisher beers were, by comparison to some restaurants, epic: they include a whole section for venison, more than 20 prawn dishes (including, wonderfully, a prawn cocktail), and the epic Spice Valley house special – a whole leg of lamb cooked for 24 hours which costs £64, feeds four and must be ordered a day in advance.

I was very tempted by some dishes I’d never seen listed before including a sardine jalfrezi, but in the end I ordered the Ayre mass masala (£12.95) – a Bangladeshi fish marinated overnight then served in a rich sauce – along with a cauliflower bhaji (£4.95) and Peshwari naan (£3.50).

There weren’t huge amounts of anything, but what we got was extremely satisfying (especially after we had gorged ourselves on the poppadoms and dips including what Mrs Hughes claimed was the best lime pickle she had ever had): the fish was beautifully cooked and tender with skin still on (bonus points) and the sauce was rich and sweet. The cauliflower bhaji came as a bowl of tender florets and stems that were teetering on the brink of being too spicy, but stayed just the right side.

My one disappointment was the naan which I thought was too bready with not enough sweet stuffing, but Mrs Hughes was delighted. In fact she just walked in on me writing this review and said: “Tell them it was very fresh and delicious but don’t eat too much or your tummy hurts.”

As usual, she has neatly summarised exactly what I was trying to say.