IF there is one time of year you would bank on a pub being busy, it is a warm, weekend evening in July, writes JAMES ROBERTS.

So while it was encouraging that the Station Garden's pub garden and play area was packed as I approached the entrance, I avoided getting too ahead of myself.

A sizeable bar dominates the modern interior and it was less busy inside, but the pub clearly benefits from its location on the relatively new Great Western Park, in Didcot.

With 3,300 homes on its doorstep and only the Boundary Park Pavilion as direct competition within walking distance, the Station Garden should be doing a roaring trade.

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The pub has clearly tried to appeal to all ages, with families, friends and couples all enjoying an evening out.

We sat down and opened the Wetherspoons-style menu - in fact, everything seemed to take after the national chain, but nowhere said explicitly if it was indeed a Spoons.

The menu offered a range of dishes, from burgers, pub classics and steaks to the less common sharers, salads and stonebaked pizzas.

I opted for the good old-fashioned scampi served with chips, tartare sauce and mushy peas (£8.45), while Henry challenged himself to the Cowboy burger XL.

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He paid an extra £1.50 for an extra burger to go with the bacon, Monterey Jack cheese and burger sauce, but it still came to a very reasonable £8.45.

The food is best described as standard pub grub. Neither dish was particularly well-presented, while Henry's burger bun was slightly burnt.

Both of us felt slightly hard done by on the number of chips, so our main courses did not quite live up to the website's boast that its food 'has to be spot on'.

There was an equally large choice of desserts, with Henry going for the praline chocolate tart (£3.95).

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This rich tart, filled with coconut milk and praline, served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, would not grace a Michelin-starred restaurant, but was wolfed down.

I went for something a little more exotic, with a vegan rhubarb and ginger pudding (£3.75).

This had a cookie crumb, layered with chunks of rhubarb, topped with a gingerbread sponge, and served with vegan vanilla ice cream. It was a little dry but extra points for being something different.

On reflection, the quality of the food - while neither terrible nor delicious - was not the most important aspect of the pub.

You would not visit for fine dining, but as a hub for the growing Great Western Park community, it ticks all the boxes.

The Station Garden, 2 Gentian Mews, Didcot OX11 6GR.