WHAT is scampi?

No one really knows, and sadly in this modern age where we need to know everything that goes into our food from MSG to horsemeat, this has been the death knell for the sweet, salty snack.

However, for the intrepid pilgrim there is still one hidden Mecca where these crumb-coated critters can be found and devoured – the Fox & Hounds at Uffington.

Read also: Another fishy adventure at Edamame in Oxford

Nestling beneath the historic ancient monument of White Horse Hill, the pub looks from the outside like any other in one of Oxfordshire's touristy and historic little villages, and one imagines it might be full of well-heeled horsey types in Barbour jackets tucking into avocado on sourdough.

Oxford Mail:

However when we push the door open on Sunday lunchtime we almost bump into three guys in tracksuits with their dogs watching the TV.

Behind the bar are two lads and a white-haired chap in his 60s, and I suddenly feel very conscious that we are not local and everyone is thinking 'y'all ain't from around these parts'.

But I want the scampi!

The three barmen are immediately welcoming, pointing us to our table in the sun-drenched conservatory and offering us a drink.

As I sit down opposite the window I realise I have a direct view of the White Horse, looking over the valley below like a giant chalk scampi.

The menu has some fluffy starters like the beer battered king prawns with sweet chilli dip (£7.95 - my dining companion goes for these), and I go for the halloumi fries (£7).

Oxford Mail:

These also come with a sweet chilli dip and turn out to be delicious - crunchy, chewy, squeaky and salty.

Both starters come with a White Horse hill of salad that we are unable to defeat.

Review: The Horse & Jockey, Stanford in the Vale

I need to save myself for the feature presentation: Scampi and chunky chips served with peas reassuringly expensive £13.50 - clearly this is free-range, corn-feed scampi.

My cowardly companion chickens out with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (£14.95) and refuses to take a single slither of scampi.

Oxford Mail:

When it arrives it is the essence of simplicity: ten breaded bites of mystery fish, a small van load of chunky chips, a Dragon Hill of peas and a ramekin of tartare sauce.

The chips are crispy and fluffy and the peas bulbous and verdant, but it is the succulent sea creatures that I crave, and they are sweet and juicy inside a crunchy carapace.

My quest accomplished, I haven't a inch of space left for crumble so we thank our generous hosts and leave to go hunting for tripe.