AS the sun is setting over Faringdon, we drive out over the A420 and into the wild west of Oxfordshire.

After driving through Little Coxwell and its fine institution the Eagle Tavern (of which more another time), we arrive at the village of Fernham and quickly spot the white-washed Woodman, a warm orange glow coming from the windows.

There are even piles of chopped logs outside living up to the name.

As soon as we swing open the saloon door we are greeted by our hostess who, with a cheery smile, shows us to our table.

I start with a Cotswold Dry Gin (another Oxfordshire institution, well - since 2014) and tonic as we browse the menu.

Pear and goats cheese bruschetta, whitebait and pan-fried squid all vie for attention but in the end I decide to go for the buffalo mozzarella with asparagus and lemon gremolata (£6.50 or, as the menu has it in the modern fashionable style, 6.5).

The mozzarella peels away in poultry-like stringy pieces, and gremolata I discover is like pesto with lemon.

The al dente spears which, if soft, would have spoilt the dish, are just crunchy enough and provide the perfect textural complement.

But the star of my night is my main – pan-fried salmon with crushed new potatoes, spring onions, more asparagus and a lemon beurre blanc (15).

The salmon falls into succulent flakes, but with chewy and crispy skin on top.

The potatoes are also chewy in their sweet butter sauce, and topping it all off are some curly carrot quills which are sweet as toffee.

Overall it's a very sweet and chewy dish and I love every mouthful.

Accompanying all of this we have a very toothsome Merlot poured by Monsieur who even has a French accident (and, one assumes, provenance) to match.

I should, of course, have quit while I was ahead, but after enjoying my first two courses so much I foolishly talked myself into getting a continental cheese board (served with crackers and apple, but sadly no pickle or chutney) which scored two out of four cheeses from me.

My dining companion tells me that the out-of-season pears with the bruschetta were sadly flavourless, though the rest of the dish was good, so I feel somewhat consoled about that.

Overall we waddle out wiser, fatter, poorer but happier.

The Woodman, Fernham, near Faringdon, SN7 7NX. 01367 820643