IT looked like a clown had been murdered on my plate.

Bright neon pink goo was splattered everywhere over fluorescent orange organs and vibrant green viscera.

The shimmering silver murder weapons were still there, glowing with gory evidence.

What’s more, it even tasted like a child’s birthday party: the squash naturally sweet, and the carrots glazed in a sugary syrup – it was like a roast dinner-themed bag of Haribo.

Luckily for me, I adore ridiculously sweet main courses, so I demolished the whole lot.

In fact, it wasn’t even mine – it had been Katie’s main course, but when mine arrived, a nutritious but saintly-looking stack of mushrooms on worthy sourdough bread, I immediately knew I wanted to swap.

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Perhaps the weirdest thing about this fantastical Technicolor lunch was the setting: this was the Radnor Arms pub, found in the beautifully-preserved historic village of Coleshill near Faringdon, which is almost entirely owned by one of the nation’s most sober and – dare we say it - sombre – institutions, the National Trust.

We had long had it on our list to visit the Radnor, if only because the village itself is so beautiful.

It is built on a scenic hillside around the historic Coleshill manor which dates back hundreds of years, and looks much the same today as it did 100 years ago, if not longer.

The last private owner of the manor house was Ernest Cook, grandson of the travel agent Thomas Cook. Having bought the property shortly after the Second World War, he had agreed to leave the house to the National Trust upon his death. Sadly, in 1952, a painter using a blow-torch to remove some old paint from a dormer window accidentally set the place alight, and the entire house was destroyed. The National Trust still inherited the estate.

Luckily for it and us, the repairman never got his hands on the rest of the village’s dormer windows, so it and the Radnor Arms remain a delight today.

Katie and I cycled the hour-long trip from Faringdon to Coleshill on a sunny Sunday at the start of September to work up an appetite.

With its sprawling garden climbing up the gentle slope around the modest car park, it’s a perfect place for socially-distanced dining.

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We plonked ourselves down at a rustic bench with a parasol, seating which was only very slightly spoilt throughout the meal by some of the absurd cars which pulled in right next to us, including a golden Porsche with a Pac-Man decal on the side and two enormous 4x4-style cars the size of small minibuses - an indication of some of the people who live in the area.

It was because of the affluent neighbourhood and the village’s hushed historic charm that we had both assumed the grub at the Radnor Arms would probably be high-class stuff.

For our starters, I was delighted to see whitebait on the menu (crispy fried in breadcrumbs with tartar sauce – £4.50) so I zeroed in on that, while Katie went for another old favourite – deep-fried brie bites (served with an apple compote for £6).

Now, these were fine, but we were both a little surprised by the lack of bang for our bucks: the brie was pretty flavourless, meaning the overwhelming taste one was left with was very oily breadcrumbs, and apple is not the strongest of flavours to cut through that.

The Radnor boasts on its website that, where possible, it gets seasonal produce from its own organic farm and other local artisan suppliers – a laudable aim much to be encouraged, however if this means using an extremely mild English brie whose flavour can’t even compete with oily breadcrumbs, then maybe this dish needs to be rethought.

I didn’t expect my whitebait to have been fished from the River Thames that morning of course, but again if the raw ingredients being used aren’t the most flavourful, maybe the kitchen should find some local fish to use instead, such as the invasive but delicious crayfish which need to be removed from waterways across Oxfordshire, and create an exciting and local dish out of them, rather than creating a compromise of a classic using an ingredient which has to travel so far.

Then we come to our main courses.

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I had ordered sauteed mushrooms with smoked cheddar cream and poached egg on sourdough (£14), while Katie had stayed safe (or so she thought) with the basic vegetarian Sunday Roast (£16).

My dish was delicious: flavourful mushrooms on a chewy, sour slice of what tasted like freshly-made bread, with rich and runny golden eggs on top, and a really smacking cheese sauce that I would have loved more of.

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I could have used a tiny bit more seasoning on the mushrooms, and I would have toasted the bread myself, but in terms of a dish that let its raw ingredients sing for themselves, this was top stuff – I hope and trust that they were using local ingredients for this whole plate, which would all be so easy to get.

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However, it’s just more Katie’s sort of dish – she makes her own sourdough, and loves simple and subtly-flavoured rustic food like that.

When I saw her radioactive roast, I knew instantly that was my sort of meal, and I was completely right.

Although I’m not a big fan of large plates of worthy boiled and roasted vegetables, the creativity behind this version of the classic was just so exciting: from the start, the glowing pink beetroot sauce, which came in its own boat, is such a brilliant visual twist on an old standard that makes all the other colours on the plate come alive.

But more than that, it was just a riot of real flavours: as well as all the sweetness there were surprising herb flavours infused in the cabbage and carrots, and the cauliflower cheese was pulsing with a proper pungent cheddar.

This dish would definitely not be to everyone’s taste, but for someone who doesn’t get very excited about the traditional Sunday roast – and especially a vegetarian version of it – I give this a 10 out of 10: an exciting, creative twist on a classic, using some great ingredients.

If the starters were as clever and creative as the mains, I think I could have given our whole visit a 10/10, and I’m looking forward to going back in a different season to see what new dishes spring up out of the local terroir.

The facts:

  • The Radnor Arms, Coleshill, near Faringdon
  • Call 01793 766667
  • Reservations:
  • The pub is in the National Trust village of Coleshill on the Oxfordshire/Wiltshire border. It is tiny, so you are recommended to reserve a table.
  • Parking: No problem – there’s plenty of space, but why not take the bike instead?
  • Dogs: Well behaved poets are welcome inside and in the garden
  • Nearby: Visit Buscot House