Eating amid the riverside delights of The Folly, next to the Victorian bridge thus named at Grandpont, is a pleasure associated in my mind chiefly with the summer months.

On at least three occasions I have experienced the acme of luxury by being transported there from Osney aboard one of the swanky electric-powered launches operated by its owner Giles Dobson. Once I followed lunch – after a scarcely decent interval – with a lavish tea in the company of happy trippers as we glided further downstream.

No chance of that at present, though, when the river’s speed of flow rules out any movement upon it as I write; indeed has done since last October. Ruled out, too – a matter of temperature – is the enjoyment of another of The Folly’s special treats: feasting on its elegant pontoon.

But who cares? The place has a charm all of its own in wintertime – a matter much to do with the lights twinkling in the windows and the rusticity – not to say endearing eccentricity – of its decor.

Relaxing beside an elegant fireplace in gold-painted Lloyd Loom chairs, with gin and tonics before us on the copper-topped table, Rosemarie and I have good cause for contentment.

The electric launch was replaced by bus tonight – a number 4 to St Aldates, then Shanks’s pony across the bridge.

With no parking around, public transport is best – not least in permitting a drink or two, like the aforementioned gins. Both are from Toad (The Oxford Artisan Distillery) – we like to go local. Rosemarie’s is the standard product, heavy on juniper; mine is the luxury variety made for the Ashmolean Museum, with the special bitterness of myrrh.

We study the menu as we sip – or rather menus, including, most commendably, one for vegans of whom there are many about at present (though Veganuary ended the day before this visit).

There’s soup or tapas (principally olives and nuts) to start, mains of mushroom risotto, aubergine and lemon tagine, or spinach and falafel burger, and apple crumble or various sorbets to finish.

The helpful staff speak highly of the seven-course tasting menu at £59 (£88 with wine pairings) – tempting but likely, on past experience elsewhere, to be too much of a faff.

Besides, we are going to be having everything on it (the amuse bouche and sea bass apart) in dishes identified and fancied on the main menu.

And, as a special favour solicited as I order, I am even going to try the curried white beans (they prove to be delicious) that come with the bass.

Dishes ordered, we move before their arrival to a table overlooking the river, with a pleasing presence of happy diners around us.

We’re soon happy, too. How not to be when faced, for me, by wild mushroom risotto with truffle and pickled trompettes, and for Rosemarie by three juicy scallops with black pudding crumb, cauliflower purée and compressed apple? Both dishes look wonderful – a feature of chef Dan Richardson’s work – and taste great as well, though the risotto is almost too much of a good thing.

This makes me pleased with a main course, pan-roasted guinea fowl, that’s comparatively light on starch – a quartet (see left) of little potato ‘bon bons’, alongside a parma ham crisp, baby carrots, madeira jus and (unadvertised, but welcome) cavolo nero.

Rosemarie’s 17-hour braised beef feather blade is a much more substantial proposition, the tender, sticky meat teamed with tarragon gremolata, creamed mash, buttered spinach and horseradish gel.

Our wine is a cabernet sauvignon and merlot blend (Vondeling, 2017) from South Africa’s Western Cape, its blackberry and spice tones ideal for the food, the beef especially.

With no appetite tonight for pudding, I leave Rosemarie to her lemon and poppy seed sponge with meringue, though I can’t resist a taste of the vanilla ice cream and lemon curd also on the plate.

After a meal excellent in all respects, it is a special pleasure – when chef Dan appears from the kitchen – to be able to congratulate him on it. A member of the happy team here for a while, he has only lately come to head it. Clearly, he’s doing a first-class job.