KATIE had heard amazing things about a little place in Clanfield near Faringdon.

However, I booked the wrong place, so we ended up having dinner there instead.

My beloved realised as soon as we pulled up to the place.

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"No, the lobster place is further down there," she said, pointing.

"Well the place I booked for dinner is here," I said, parking the car.

It looked like a cosy little hostelry, and through the window we could see people crowded round the bar laughing and joking.

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Then we went in and literally, all conversation ceased.

We waited awkwardly while the two ladies at the bar finished serving the regulars and I thought: "They were planning to have a nice quiet Sunday evening with their friends and we've just ruined it."

However a very friendly barmaid then led us to a little table in the dining room next door, where two other couples quietly communed over their roast dinners.

So far, everything about the night was almost identical to my last visit to a village pub – the Fox & Hounds at Uffington – right down to the halloumi fries with sweet chilli sauce as a starter, so I thought I'd try them out by way of comparison.

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These ones (£7) came in bread crumbs, were fiercely hot, but were sweet, salty, chewy and crunchy.

Katie started with the smoked salmon and avocado salad (£7), which came with some do-it-yourself bread and butter – four slices of bread with a fat slab of butter on top.

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For a main course, I went for the pan-seared salmon with roasted new potatoes, wilted spinach and a lemon and dill cream sauce (£15).

The salmon was well-cooked, but I thought it wanted more seasoning, and the rich sauce was a creamy accompaniment.

The potatoes were not nearly crunchy enough for me, but this half-baked idea seems to be popular at the moment so I'll accept I might be in the minority.

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Katie, meanwhile, went for the filled field mushroom with wilted spinach, onion jam and whipped goats cheese, roasties, braised red cabbage and greens (£14).

None of this explains to me what the pile of luminous orange mash was on the side of the plate, but I thought that was quite nice.

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Katie said the rest of it was perfect for her tastes.

To finish the night we shared the last apple and blackberry crumble with custard (£6.50).

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Throughout the night the two ladies who served us were friendly and helpful – top marks for service.

clanfieldtavern.net / 01367 810117