WITH its Elizabethan-style exterior and thatched roof, the Vine and Spice seems from the roadside to be a traditional village pub.

Inside the rustic theme continues - if not for the tempting waft of spices on entry, you might expect to find the usual fish and chips and burgers on the menu.

The restaurant in Long Wittenham was once the The Vine public house, but has since built a reputation for its acclaimed Indian food.

Boasting a stream of enthusiastic reviews online and a diverse array of dishes on its website menu, it is no surprise that there are few downstairs tables left on a Saturday night.

We are instead guided to a more private room upstairs, which has retained cosy pub decor: sage green walls, gingham blinds and a stack of chunky firewood piled high in an alcove.

The menu we are handed is different to the takeaway menu we viewed online, with fewer options and an absence of the usual ‘English curry’ classics like chicken tikka masala.

Instead is a mix of exotic-sounding curries and kebabs, from Icelandic cod and green mango curry to pounded meatball with black cardamom sauce.

We order two poppadums to share to start, charged at £2 each, plus drinks - a small mango juice for me (£2.50) and a pint of Fosters for Tom (£4.30).

For mains, I choose a murgh chicken tikka lababdar (£13.50), described as having peppers, green chillis and a mild coriander yoghurt sauce.

Tom asks for a lamb chettinaad, which is made with tomatoes, ginger and a ‘special blend of spices’.

The poppadums soon appear with a spinning selection of chutney pots.

All six are delicious apart from a red onion jam, which we both feel has an overpowering flavour of star anis.

After crunching through the last shards of poppadum, it takes about 20 minutes for someone to collect our plates, and another 10 or so for our mains to come out.

There is a mumble of apology when our mains finally arrive, with the waiter explaining with a hint of accusation that ‘most people sit downstairs’.

Thankfully the lamb and chicken are cooked beautifully, both tender and cloaked in aromatic sauces.

My sauce is slightly soup-like in consistency, which means it does not cling on to the fluffy rice as well as it should.

Staff do keep checking on us now they have remembered we are here, but one makes a slightly unprofessional dig at the previous couple for having fled without telling anyone.

He chats with a colleague as we pay downstairs and that cements my decision to give a pretty stingy tip, and he does not return my ‘goodbye’ as we walk out.

The food was pleasant enough and the restaurant itself a lovely setting, but I have had better curries and better service at a cheaper price.

The Vine and Spice, High Street, Long Wittenham, 01235 409900.