AS NEIGHBOURS in the same building, the Magnolia Brasserie in Faringdon is somewhat overshadowed in Sudbury House Hotel by the better-known Restaurant 56.

The latter boasts three AA Rosettes and serves fine-dining fare, while the brasserie has two rosettes and is a more casual and budget-friendly restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere.

Having triple-checked my handbrake after parking in the hotel's steep car park just off the A420, I strode into the inviting entrance area, where a receptionist warmly pointed my dad and I to the door of the brasserie.

Inside, the restaurant is bright and contemporary, with sleek frosted glass and cosy furnishings offering splashes of warm colour.

Huge windows look out onto a pristine courtyard area, which no doubt makes for a popular al fresco dining spot during the summer.

We arrived on a Wednesday lunchtime and had our pick of seating, as there were only two other tables occupied.

A polite waiter hands us the menus and I was slightly disappointed to see that it differed from the sample food list online, as I had set my sights on the truffle and pecorino pappardelle.

In its absence, I eyed up the other options - the pizzas cooked in the restaurant's wood-burning stove (ranging in price from £6.50 to £13.50) did look tempting.

Given that I had a trip to Italy booked the following day, however, during which I planned to devour an obscene amount of pizza, I ruled that out.

Fish and chips (£13.50), sausage and mashed potato, sandwiches and burgers are other choices, none of which particularly inspired me, so I took a while to weigh it up.

After our waiter took our wine order I asked if he could give me 'two minutes' to decide on food, after which he disappeared - we had to hungrily flag him down after 15 had passed.

Dad went for the sausage and mash while I chose the roast beef and horseradish sandwich, upgrading to a side of fries instead of crisps.

One of the unique selling points of the brasserie pitched on Sudbury House's website is the 'exciting theatre of watching the talented chefs prepare your meal in front of your very eyes'.

The kitchen is exposed in full view of diners, which is great if you are nosy like me - I even saw Nick Bennett, the acclaimed head chef of Restaurant 56, dodge in to borrow some ingredients for next door.

When I was researching the brasserie, I spotted a TripAdvisor review moaning about the noise of the extractor fan, which I rolled my eyes at.

But, petty though it might be, I had to agree during my visit - once you tuned into the annoying buzzing noise in the background, it was hard to concentrate on the conversation.

It also did little to stop the waft of cooking oil as my chips were dunked into the sizzling fryer, which is one downside of the open kitchen idea.

Thankfully this train of thought was interrupted by the arrival of our food, neatly presented with generous portion sizes.

The ingredients used were clearly of high quality and the cold meat was perfectly pink and tender, though I had to season it myself.

I really enjoyed the leafy salad, particularly the tiny teardrop-shaped sweet peppers (Pimenta Biquinho or 'little beak' peppers, Google tells me) and the zingy dressing.

The fries were also tasty but the main event itself, though pleasant enough, was just a sandwich - I suppose it's difficult to be wowed by a sandwich, but I had expected something a bit more exciting.

Dad was more enthusiastic about his dish, however, which packed in more flavour, and said he would happily return for another meal in future with my mum in tow.

We had been considering bringing my one-year-old niece with us, but thought it would be too fancy for a toddler to be running around.

That was not the case, however - the brasserie definitely has a more relaxed vibe than I had imagined. Paired with welcoming staff and reasonable prices, it seems to be a pleasant, family-friendly place.

I would be keen to return on a busier evening when there is more atmosphere to soak in and a more varied menu to chose from, or perhaps in summer when I can make full use of the beautiful outdoor area.

The Magnolia Brasserie, Sudbury House Hotel, London Street, Faringdon, 01367 241272.