WITH pubs vanishing from towns and villages across Oxfordshire, I was reassured to find such a healthy smattering lining Thame High Street.

The choice of upmarket gastropubs and more traditional boozers are bookended by The Black Horse at one end, part of Raymond Blanc's White Brasserie Company, and Fuller's pub The Six Bells at the other.

A short walk from the latter is The Thatch, an enticing half-timbered cottage which, according to the date proudly painted at its entrance, dates back to circa 1550.

It is part of the Peach pub group, which also runs The James Figg further up the High Street.

My senses detected the scent of steaming gravy as we pushed open the door at 3pm, the only slot they had left for Sunday lunch.

We lingered awkwardly by the bar for a few minutes while staff bustled around, before being led to a separate dining area around the corner.

We were invited to pick our table in this cosier part of the pub, where low ceilings are loaded with dark beams.

It has a window looking into the busier conservatory-style restaurant, which is brighter and more modern, so we didn't feel too isolated from our fellow diners.

A friendly staff member, whose manner somehow reminded me of Tom Hiddleston in The Night Manager, handed us the Sunday menu and a separate piece of card listing the afternoon specials.

As we scanned the options, I ordered a spiced tomato juice (£3) and Tom (not Hiddleston, sadly) a half pint of Estrella (£2.50).

There were many dishes aside from roast dinners - fillet of hake with cockles and a beurre blanc, perhaps, at £17.50, or duck ragu pappardelle pasta with crispy duck crumb, at £16.

The smell of gravy had me at hello, however, so those options failed to sway me from my choice of roast beef (£15).

Tom chose the same and we ordered a side of cauliflower cheese to share, for £3.50 extra.

Service was quick despite how busy the pub was, and I was relieved to see that the carved meat was blushing pink in the centre.

A tasty root vegetable purée, roast potatoes and crispy Yorkshire pudding sat on top, and our spring greens and cauliflower arrived in individual dishes.

'Lashings' of gravy were promised on the menu, but mine was more of a drizzle - a waitress quickly brought another jug when I asked, however.

The beef was beautifully tender and full of flavour, freshened by the crisp greens and sweet puréed swede.

The potatoes were disappointing in texture, as they lacked a crisp outer shell, but the indulgent cauliflower cheese just about made up for it - I had the triumphant pleasure of scraping out the bowl.

There was a tempting selection of desserts but we just about managed to resist - maybe next time.

If ever you find yourself spoilt for choice in Thame centre, I can recommend The Thatch as a safe bet.

The Thatch, High Street, Thame, 01844 214340.