KATHERINE MACALISTER’S first look at a new-look city pub ends in tears... of joy.

Were those tears in his eyes I wondered as Mr Greedy spooned mouthful after mouthful of raspberry, fig and plum tart with orange cream into his mouth, pausing to savour each morsel in a most uncharacteristically dramatic way.

He then called the waitress over to find out if the chef had made the tart himself.

“Yes, he makes all the desserts on site,” she replied.

“Then he’s a master,” Mr Greedy replied, in awe of the magician in the kitchen.

And Mr Greedy isn’t normally a pudding kind of man.

Cheese sometimes, but usually he just makes sure he gorges himself enough during the first two courses to tide him over ‘til coffee. But before he began openly weeping I called a taxi and made a hasty departure. After all, men don’t cry in public unless England wins the World Cup.

So, where were we?

Remember Rosie O’Grady’s pub by the open air car park in Oxford?

Hmm, thought so. Saunter past the Park End Street site now though and you’ll be amazed.

Gone is the dark interior and rammed down your throat ‘Irish theme.’ It is now somewhere to go even when you don’t need change for the parking machine.

Washed wood colours, a gentle green and blue colour theme, a good sturdy scrubbed bar, clean floors, loos and smiling staff have transformed the place. You can sit outside on the little balcony overlooking the canal, drink one of the four real ales on offer, or eat really good grub at really decent prices.

The Duke’s Cut, named after that part of the canal, is run by James Knox, who has been waiting for the right site to come along for ages, having run the original O’Neills on George Street.

He wanted to run somewhere independent and unthemed, where people could drink or eat without it being gastro or chainy, and Jamie has managed to bridge the gap here.

Not that it’s an easy one mind; many a hardy landlord has drowned between the bar and the kitchen, but wander in on a balmy evening, as we did, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Soup was perhaps not the best choice on a summer evening but roast tomato and paprika it was, and home-made, although any hint of paprika has disappeared in the cooking. The smoked salmon and prawn Marie Rose served with brown bread, was a nice slant though on the old fashioned prawn cocktail.

I then had the risotto of the day (£9) – red pepper and pea – which was cooked to perfection, but so filling I couldn’t eat it all.

Mr Greedy’s generous rib of beef with field mushrooms and a thyme and red wine sauce (£13.50) was also a great success, although the gravy should be served in a jug for those who like their steaks to stand alone. And the great thing was, we weren’t expecting the food to be so good, so it was all a bonus. Nothing here is a big deal.

It wasn’t until the desserts arrived that we really saw heaven.

I had the chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream, which was so naughty it nearly made me weep with guilt, but what a pair we would have looked then. So I pulled myself together and did the decent thing by enjoying every mouthful and going for a jog the next day.

While cursing the chocolate tart with each step, it did occur to me that Mr Greedy would have run to hell and back for one more for spoonful of that dessert.

So be warned.