The wonderful One Restaurant and Bar at the east end of Botley Road manages to be all things to all people, or perhaps I should more accurately say many things to lots of them.

For my neighbours in the surrounding streets it supplies all the traditional facilities of the local pub, with a wide range of beers (including hand-pumped Doom Bar bitter), lunchtime sandwiches and big, big breakfasts, especially popular with the building trade.

Oxford Mail:

It functions, too, as a smart cocktail bar with literally hundreds of drinks on offer, including 80 varieties of hugely fashionable gin. There’s even the delicious caraway-flavoured liqueur kümmel which I have seen nowhere else in an age.

But its principal claim to fame is as a vibrant fusion restaurant, with an excellent reputation built up over the past eight years. Its dishes draw on the Pekinese, Cantonese and Szechuan traditions, with Thai and Japanese influence too.

Their elegant presentation and zingy freshness are a big hit with customers. Ghastly monosodium glutamate – at one time a flavour enhancer always associated with Chinese restaurants – is utterly banned in the kitchen.

The One is a significant venue for parties, since it seats 120, some in a large extension over part of the garden. (Outdoor seating is still supplied, and against one wall are tanks for terrapins and koi carp.)

A pal was telling me at the weekend of the humdinger of a party for Chinese New Year when dishes included fresh lobster with ginger, quick-fried turbot, black bean crab and steamed scallops.

Yes please! But first a little history, for here is a place that deserves the telling of it, if necessarily briefly.

Like many a pub and restaurant, The One occupies a building constructed for another purpose, in this case the collection of tolls. Botley Road was gated here and none could pass into the city without paying up. The original toll house, slightly closer to town, was demolished when the railway came. The replacement dates from 1850.

The building had been a pub for many years when I got to know it in 1973. It became the principal haunt for thirsty journalists on The Oxford Mail and Times who moved that year to Osney Mead. Scotch egg salads and cottage pie fuelled our labours.

Later it was run in more gourmet style by my pals Robert Patterson and Michael White, its name altered for the latter to The White House.

The last change came with its acquisition by the family from the nearby Paddyfields and Woodstock’s Chef Imperial, where One Bar boss David Chu was brought up.

Oxford Mail:

He was host on our Thursday night visit which began in the bar with G&T’s (Germany’s Monkey 47 for me, Death’s Door from the US for Rosemarie), before we moved into the restaurant.

To eliminate the agonising over the large and varied menu we had decided on a Leave It To Us Feast; we reckoned, too, that they’d want to show us their best.

Just how good the presentation is here can be gauged from the platter of hors d’oeuvres pictured.

Oxford Mail:

The feast featured chicken wings and tiger prawns in spices, BBQ rigs in a dark and sticky sauce, Thai chilli crab cakes, Teriyaki chicken skewers and spring rolls. Assisting their progress downwards was a very gluggable South African chenin blanc (Hutton Ridge) from the Oxford Wine Company.

Crispy aromatic duck – a little drier than expected – was deftly removed from the bone by David to fill pancakes with cucumber, spring onions and plum sauce.

Two each seemed enough as we’d seen what was coming from the menu (personalised with our names on top).

This was no fewer than four main dishes, all outstanding.

Oxford Mail:

My favourite was stir-fried king prawns with asparagus, in a nest of shredded potato. Rosemarie’s was fillet of beef, sizzling to the table with black pepper sauce, and red and green peppers. But there were no complaints about the gingery steamed chicken with Chinese sausage or the stir-fried pork with fine beans and dried shrimps. Lots of rice (egg fried), of course.

Pudding was a triumph: raspberry sorbet, crème brulée and an army of Pac-man-like carved fruits, lipsticked mouths wide open and with chocolate eyes. A total hoot!

Oxford Mail:

- THE One Restaurant and Bar, 2 Botley Road, Oxford, OX2 0AB, 01865 240018,

Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday, noon to 11.30pm, Friday and Saturday, noon to 1am. Food served all day, last orders 10.45pm.

The people: manager David Chu, Head Chef: Kwai Wo Cheung, sous chef: Peter Har

Do try . . . king prawns with asparagus £11.80, fillet of beef in black pepper sauce £16.50, steamed chicken with Chinese sausages £8.95, minced pork with beans and dried shrimp £9.95