FOOLISHLY I forgot to double check the pub I planned to visit this week served food on a Monday.

In my defence it didn’t mention anything on its website but nevertheless it left me scrambling to find a replacement at the last minute.

Luckily The Hart of Harwell was there to welcome me with friendly service and a surprisingly bustling atmosphere, despite my unplanned visit.

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The wooden beams and sage-painted brick are a charming combination, with French-themed posters adding a bit of Gallic flair to the south Oxfordshire gastropub.

To start I ordered crispy whitebait with lemon and aioli (£6.50).

A generous serving of deep-fried whitebait arrived quickly with a moreish garlic dip and a grilled wedge of lemon to squeeze over the fish.

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I normally dislike meals presented in any way that could be deemed ‘quirky’ but the use of a miniature fryer to serve as a basket for the fish fit in perfectly with the fresh street food feel of the dish.

For my main I went with something from the specials board.

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The chicken saltinbocca (£14) – which Wikipedia reliably informs me literally translates as 'jump in the mouth' – was a bit of a strange one but I found myself a convert to its intriguing combination of flavours.

A chicken breast filled with cheddar and sage, wrapped in smoked streaky bacon, came with a thick wedge of dauphinoise potatoes, roasted vegetables (for some reason swede mixed in with typical Mediterranean favourites aubergine and courgette) and a sweet chilli and brie sauce.

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Initially I thought the dauphinoise potatoes were under seasoned but with the salty bacon wrapped chicken, plus the richness and chilli heat from the sauce it provided some much-needed balance.

Tempted by the puddings I went with the creme caramel chocolate cake and orange sorbet (£6).

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Truly it was a noble effort but some things are simply not meant to be. The combination of bitter cake, sweet creme caramel and sharp orange sorbet, I would argue, is most certainly one of them.

The Franken-dessert was a bizarre mixture of textures that was less than the some of its individually delicious parts.

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Sitting the cake on top of the creme caramel was a particular odd experience to eat and not one I would want to repeat any time soon.

I will say this for The Hart of Harwell, it’s menu had some unexpected delights and I suppose the danger of taking risks is a miss mixed in with the hits.