OVER the past few years, Faringdon’s tapas bar La Bobina has exploded from being a locals’ treasured little secret, to a magnet for foodies and gin lovers across Oxfordshire and beyond.

What was once a notably quiet, though extremely classy little joint now hosts an almost constant crowd of winers and diners clinking huge glasses of gin and tonic spilling out onto the street and laughing gaily.

La Bobina’s website describes it as a “buzzing Spanish Tapas Bar... in the fabulous building which once was a 19th century haberdashery”. Indeed the setting is a beautiful one, as we realised as we realised as we strolled up ready for a night of Andalusian indulgence.

We brave the melee and are shown to our little table in a quiet corner on the balcony overlooking the buzz beneath.

The waitresses are friendly and service is prompt: we start with two gins from the extensive list for which La Bobina has earned a reputation – one Gin Sea and one Cotswold Gin (£5.85 each), both refreshing and fruity. Olives and bread are brought to keep us occupied while we peruse the menu (£4.95), and they arrive with bonus olive oil and aioli.

After browsing the extensive and authentic-looking list, we settle on three plates each: goats cheese with honey and macadamia nuts (£6), gambas a la plancha (£6.65), ham and cream croquettes (£5), smoked sardines with salsa and balsamic vinegar (£6.50), a stuffed courgette flower (£6) and a plate of clams cooked in chilli and garlic.

Everything is delicious: the goats cheese is warm, sweet and sticky (and, in its fiercely hot clay pot, stays warm and sticky); the prawns are the best I’ve had in a long time – fluffy, fresh and perfectly cooked; the clams are lovely but are frustratingly tiny.

The biggest revelation is the courgette flower. Deep fried in a delicate batter and stuffed with a light cream, each mouthful is a taste sensation, with crunchy, oily, fresh and fragrant flavours.

Halfway through our plates, we finish our epic glasses of G&T and switch to wine – a bottle of Spanish Merlot which the menu warns us is ‘dangerously easy to drink’.

The health warning aside, it is very drinkable and we polish off the bottle while chatting in our peaceful corner.

The evening has been such a success we even let ourselves get talked into desserts – one crema Catalana (creme brulee to you and me – £5.15) and a Valencian chocolate and orange brownie (£5.75) served with strawberries.

Though I’m not really a dessert person, I’ve got enough taste to know these well-cooked puddings could have been the highlight of the night, had I inherited a sweeter tooth.

Finally, feeling like a couple of well-stuffed turkeys we heaved ourselves from our comfortable chairs and waddled precariously down the stairs where they were pumping out dance music. We thanked our lucky stars we were seated in the rarefied atmosphere above.

Despite having to go looking for a member of staff to hand over money to – and having to fork over the best part of £100 – we both feel we’ve got our money’s worth.

Trendy La Bobina may be – but it is almost certainly worth the hype.

La Bobina

1 Bromsgrove, Faringdon SN7 7JF

01367 240578