OVER the past few years, Faringdon's tapas bar La Bobina has exploded from being the locals' treasured little secret to a magnet for the town's trendiest set.

The website describes it as a 'buzzing Spanish Tapas Bar... in the fabulous building which once was a 19th Century haberdashery', and as we're about the enter, my companion pauses to warn me that the menu is 'possibly the most pretentious he had ever read'.

Putting doubts aside, we brave the melee and are gratefully shown to our little table in a quiet corner on the balcony overlooking the buzz beneath.

The waitresses are friendly and service is prompt: we start with two gins from the extensive list for which La Bobina has earned a reputation – one Gin Sea and one Cotswold Gin (£5.85 each), both refreshing and fruity.

Olives and bread (£4.95) are ordered to keep us occupied while we peruse the menu, and they arrive with bonus olive oil and aioli.

After browsing the extensive and authentic-looking list, we settle on three plates each: goats cheese with honey and macadamia nuts (£6), gambas a la plancha (£6.65), ham and cream croquettes (£5), smoked sardines with salsa and balsamic vinegar (£6.50), a stuffed courgette flower (£6) and a plate of clams cooked in chilli and garlic (£6.95).

Everything is delicious: the goats cheese is warm, sweet and sticky (and, in its fiercely hot clay pot, stays warm and gooey); the prawns are the best I've had in a long time - fluffy, fresh and perfectly cooked; the clams are moreish but – through no fault of La Bobina – frustratingly tiny.

The biggest revelation is the courgette flower: deep fried in a delicate batter and stuffed with cream, each mouthful is a taste sensation, with crunchy, oily, fresh and fragrant flavours.

Halfway through our plates, we finish our epic glasses of G&T and switch to wine – a bottle of Spanish Merlot which the menu warns us is 'dangerously easy to drink'.

Overlooking this public health advisory, the Merlot is indeed highly drinkable and we polish off the bottle while chatting in our relatively peaceful corner.

The evening has been such a success we even let ourselves get talked into desserts - one crema Catalana (creme brulee to you and me, £5.15) and a Valencian-style chocolate, salted almond and orange brownie served with strawberries (£5.75).

For me, not really being a pudding person, this is the least exciting part of the meal, but I've got enough taste to know that for others, either one of these desserts could have been the highlight of the evening.

Finally, feeling as though we have had a surfeit of lampreys, we heave ourselves up from our comfortable chairs and waddle precariously down the stairs.

On the ground floor we realise they are pumping out some kind of dance music, and thank our lucky stars we were seated in the rarefied atmosphere above.

Despite having to go looking for a member of staff to hand over money to – and despite then having to fork over the best part of £100 – I feel we've got our money's worth.

Pretentious La Bobina may be; trendy definitely – but this food is certainly worth the hype.