THE moment I walked into The Crown and Thistle I knew I was in for a treat.

Despite it being a Monday night in January the place was bustling – clearly something there was worth venturing out into the cold.

The Grade II-listed coaching inn reopened in 2013 following a £1.8m restoration and the sympathetic revamp has kept many original features like its timber beams.

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It is run by Oakman Inns, the company behind Wallingford's The Old Post Office and The Blue Boar in Witney.

The Crown and Thistle is actually three buildings clustered around a cobbled courtyard with, as well as the restaurant area where I ate, a hotel and bar are also contained within the 17th century space.

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The menu, described as 'inspired by Mediterranean flavours', is filled with a mix of quick and tasty favourites like pizza, burgers and pasta.

There are also quite a few vegan and vegetarian dishes, like the vegan mar-gary-ta pizza (£9) for those doing veganuary.

Not feeling hungry enough for a full starter, I instead ordered a bowl of marinated olives (£3.50) from the nibbles section.

Bursting with flavour, the giant olives included a nice mix of garlic, herb and chilli heat.

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As I was driving, I also decided to try one of the restaurant's mocktails. The virgin elderflower mojito (£4.60) was lovely, zingy from the lime with plenty of sweet, floral cordial.

The menu is highly customisable, with options to build your own pizza or salad from a range of options.

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I instead opted for one of the set pizzas, a pollo bianco, which included chicken, smoked pancetta, Béchamel sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano, mozzarella and red onion marmalade (£12.50).

As a side note I never feel more Scouse than when required to say anything in a foreign language.

After the first bite I was worried without the tang of a tomato sauce the sauce and cheese were going to be too rich.

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Luckily the sharp and sweet red onion marmalade acted in a similar way to balance out the dish.

The base was fantastic, charred from a wood-fired oven and the dough, made with flour from Naples, proved for longer to create a lighter crust.

Finally I had the sticky toffee pudding and salted caramel ice cream (£6.50).

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The perfect size to not be overwhelmed by a sugar overload, there was also just the right ratio of ice cream to steaming pudding.

Serving high-quality food in a beautiful old inn, no wonder the place was packed.