Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for friendship... and for my pal Karen, it was her diet.

“I’ll just order carefully and avoid carbs,” she said, full of good intentions at our pre-theatre dinner in Browns.

We were there to sample the lunch and early evening menu – available Monday to Friday from noon to (seated time) 6pm at £11.95 for two courses and £15.95 for three.

There’s a decent selection of four each of starters and desserts and eight main courses.

We started with baked flat mushrooms for me – which were good and garlicy and had a light Madeira sauce. Karen went for the smoked salmon with capers, lemon creme fraiche... and sourdough toast.

She did only eat half the toast but her willpower was wavering and snapped completely with the arrival of (her words) “the best fish pie ever”.

Big chunks of smoked haddock were covered with English mustard mash and nestling in between was a poached egg, amazingly still with a runny yolk. The portion size was generous too and it came with a fresh side salad.

I went for the lobster mixed with sea herb mayonnaise sandwich, one of two mains (the other is 6oz chargrilled rump steak) that has a £2 supplement.

Good chunks of lobster and samphire made a tasty mix, and came with crispy thin, skin-on fries, but was just a tad over-salty.

We then decided to share a fresh fruit salad and a salted caramel chocolate pot (pictured right) and, neither of us having a particularly sweet tooth, both intended just a taste of the latter.

But we both agreed “best chocolate dessert ever” and it soon disappeared.

By this time all thought of calorie counting had disappeared. “Another glass of wine?” asked our waiter.

“Why not,” said Karen, happily. “You only live once.”

And that’s why she’s such a good friend.

Browns , Woodstock Rd, Oxford, 01865 511995/