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The Hollybush, Witney
Set just out of the main shopping area of Witney, The Hollybush looks like an old-fashioned working men's pub from the outside, sandwiched between shops and houses in the terraced Corn Street.
But what was once undoubtedly a solid, smoky watering hole is now a buzzing cosmopolitan gastro-pub, attracting a mixed, lively crowd of diners and drinkers seeking a trendy but relaxed vibe.
We had trouble getting through on the phone, so instead of reserving a table, we took a chance and headed over about 7pm on a Saturday, hoping they could squeeze us in.
As it happens, we had no trouble, although any later and we might have been disappointed - this is an eatery with a healthy following.
WHAT DID YOU CHOOSE?
The menu is fairly straight forward, affordable but sufficiently interesting to satisfy most palates, with a decent range of vegetarian options. The Hollybush also offers a tapas selection, which works well as a mix-and-match starter or a light snack.
I ordered olives, brie and pitta bread, while the good lady had the liver paté and toast, to be followed by the penne pasta and a luxury fish pie respectively. This was where the whole thing nearly went horribly wrong...
OH DEAR ... WHAT HAPPENED?
That "followed by" is an important clause. When the pasta and pie turned up before the starters, we were left with the awkward task of sending things back and pointing out an elementary and near catastrophic error to the horrified waitress. In fairness, though, I think this was a genuine bit of rough luck - the service otherwise was great; the young staff are enthusiastic and efficient without being stuffy, perfectly in keeping with the relaxed atmosphere.
As for the food, once restored to the correct order, the tapas starter proved to be a good choice with a nice sense of do-it-yourself about it; for a larger group, the big selection would make for a very sociable entree.
As for the mains, while the pasta was enjoyable, if rather workman-like, the fish pie (I'm reliably informed) was exquisite, fully justifying the epithet "luxury", as proclaimed by the menu.
Desserts, too, were impressive: a convincingly sticky sticky-toffee-pudding and a large helping of quality ice cream left us feeling quite contented and ready for a night on the town.
VERDICT: A good choice, then, for a decent meal at a decent price, although perhaps not the place for a quiet, romantic dinner - the clientele can be pretty vocal at times.
That said, the elderly couple who sat holding hands and gazing wistfully into each others' eyes for most of the evening could well be proof to the contrary.
The bill Olives, pitta and brie £4.50 Liver paté £5 Luxury fish pie £9 Penne pasta £7.50 Sticky toffee pudding £5 Selection of ice cream £4 Drinks £14.40 TOTAL £49.40