Fully 40 years after Raymond Blanc’s culinary genius burst upon the world from a dowdy shopping parade in Summertown, he gave us, in Thame’s Black Horse, Oxfordshire’s first taste of the master chef in the pub business.

The up-market operation began shortly before Christmas in 2017, with all the style and flair to be expected from the man of Le Manoir.

It is part of a smallish group, called White Brasserie, offering – as its hybrid name suggests – the charm of a traditional English pub, with French brasserie food slightly Anglicised. There are 18 others, all but one in the south of England and no fewer than seven in Surrey.

To an extent, the Black Horse has helped make Thame a destination for foodies, as it became nearly a century ago when John Fothergill – another gastronomic game-changer – bought the Spread Eagle, just along the High Street. That was in 1922 – a coming centenary to note.

Customers flocked to the Black Horse from the start – me among them, with a particular penchant for the set menu available up till 5pm Monday to Friday. This remains an excellent deal at £12.95 for two courses (add a third for £3.50). The present choices include haricot bean and mushroom soup, lamb brochettes and steamed treacle sponge pudding with orange and Cointreau sauce.

You can check all details on line as well as see the spiffing £32.50 Christmas party menu. Yes please!

Read more: Raymond Blanc shares highlights of 35 years at Le Manoir

But it was the main menu, new for autumn, that we decided to try out with our friends Gerald and Clico Kingsbury, even if some of the dishes we chose were familiar, trusted offerings here.

We met up last week on Tuesday, not traditionally a day of revelry so early in the working week. An 8pm table, we reckoned, should give plenty of time before the 10.20pm 280 bus home for Rosemarie and me.

And so it did, even though – with all the chat and slow-motion eating (that’s me folks!) – the last course needed to be taken at something of a gallop.

The evening began in the bar where I had a favourite gin (The Botanist) and tonic, Gerald a Chase potato vodka, driver Clico a glass of water and Rosemarie a first taste of the delicious house white wine (Cave de Massé) later to lubricate the meal.

This was taken in the airy rear courtyard section of the pub. Our corner table was the one we sat at on our last visit, and the one I would have requested again, had it occurred to me to do so. Waitress Zaida was sedulous in her duties.

Oxford Mail:

The meal began for me with a jar of potted crab, a layer of butter on top and guacamole – a clever touch – below. Sourdough toast aided transmission to the mouth.

Rosemarie’s fish soup was of classic French construction – with Gruyère cheese, croutons and rouille – and so were Gerald’s ultra-garlicky snails.

Clico completed a happy quartet with wild mushroom fricassée (“light, delicate, delish”), with white wine, garlic and herbs, and Jerusalem artichoke shavings.

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In accordance with standard practice (“I don’t think I ever deviate from it”) she continued with Malabar fish curry with toasted coconut. This featured roast hake and a grilled king prawn, with aromatic spices and coconut milk.

Rosemarie’s eye fell on slow-cooked boeuf bourguignon (smoked pork belly was a tempting rival). This proved notable in being one large piece of beef (rather dry) instead of the usual smallish chunks. It was in a rich red wine sauce, too copious in quantity, with lardons, baby onions and fast-disappearing (into the sauce) smooth mashed potato.

Oxford Mail:

The same one-lump policy with meat was evident in Gerald’s excellent lamb tagine – a thick steak cut through the leg, slow cooked, with such Moroccan flourishes as sultanas, Medjool date and pistachio and almond couscous.

Rioja Crianza (Bodegas Corral, Don Jacobo) proved an ideal accompaniment, as it was to my roast pheasant breast with mushrooms and muscat pumpkin (see left) with dauphinoise potatoes and port and red wine jus.

Blackcurrant pavlova and a gorgeous Saint-Marcellin cheese, served whole, with fig and almond cake and quince jelly, sent us homewards with a smile.

The Black Horse, 11 Cornmarket, Thame, OX9 2BL, tel: 01844 219050, blackhorsethame.com

Food served: Mon-Thurs noon-10pm, Fri noon-10.30pm, Sat 9am-10.30pm, Sun noon-9pm

The people: head chef Trent Philips, general manager Abdur Rehman

Do try the . . . potted crab £8.75, fish soup £7.85, snails £8.50, mushroom fricassee £7.85, lamb tagine£18.95, Malabar fish curry £16.95, boeuf bourguignon £17.75, roast pheasant £16.95, blackcurrant pavlova £7.75, Saint-Marcellin cheese