There are some wonderful eating places in the villages of Oxfordshire. How nice it must be to find an excuse to travel to some of the most beautiful areas of the county, if not the country, to enjoy a relaxed meal in convivial surroundings.

Such a luxury is not available to many at lunchtime. At least that is what I thought, before I realised that in fact this atmosphere can be enjoyed just a few minutes outside the city centre.

The village of Iffley is beautiful with its Norman church, river views and open fields. Yet all this is just minutes from the bustling city centre and, while it is perhaps out of reach by foot for most on a strict time limit, parking should not be a problem.

At least that was the first of the many benefits of visiting the Annora restaurant, part of the Tree hotel situated in the heart of the village.

The exterior is a handsome Victorian brick building surrounded by extensive grounds which can be viewed through the restaurant windows.

We chose the restaurant as customers are presented with a choice as they walk through the door. You can either vote to stay in the bar and take your pick from that menu, or step through to the dining room.

This room has a light and airy feel and, shortly after taking our seats by the window, we were presented with the menus by our waiter.

The Annora offers an eclectic mix of dishes from all over the world which effectively means you are spoilt for choice and it takes a little while to ponder the options.

But it also means you can mix and match your way through the meal and the staff are happy to offer suggestions, should you need help.

Shortly after sitting down we were presented with a complimentary poppadom filled with Indian salsa, which offered a tangy introduction to the meal, whetting the appetite perfectly.

Then we had a mixture of starters arranged on separate plates so there were no clashes of forks over the table.

These included smoked salmon with creme fraiche arranged on a bellini; baby corn, crispy noodles with salsa and bruschetta with caramelised onion and cheese.

Out of these the bruschetta was my personal favourite, although my companion was quick to extoll the creamy bellini. Whatever, they were all very tasty.

Two glasses of crisp house Sauvignon were also the perfect accompaniment to this promising start.

For the main course I had ordered lamb shank which was served with baby carrots, crushed garlic roast potatoes and a rosemary jus. This was a fine piece of meat, which I later discovered had been sourced locally from Aldens’ butchers on Osney Mead, and it was so substantial that I would have expected to wait far longer for it to arrive.

Nevertheless, it was beautifully cooked with large amounts of meat just falling off the bone. Each mouthful was delicious, while the carrots were crisp and the potatoes richly flavoured. The portion of creamed spinach which I ordered as a side dish was also very good.

Rarely have I enjoyed such traditional English fare so much and I managed to clear my plate, despite my appetite having been satisfied long before.

Across the table, a similar success story had occurred with the king prawn biryani. This was fresh-tasting but mildly spiced, which was right up her street and, despite it again being a substantial portion, the inevitable result was a clean plate.

Of course, we did not need dessert but for the sake of the review we decided to share the least filling-sounding option which was the fresh pear poached in sugar and saffron served with vanilla ice-cream.

This was beautifully presented and tasted as good as it looked with the pear coloured by saffron but with a wonderfully subtle flavour. It was particularly appreciated by my companion, who won the battle of the spoons hands down.

Over coffee we met one of the chefs, Govind Sapkota, who previously worked for the Accor group of hotels in Bangkok, Thailand.

Clearly he and the rest of the team have not only mastered their own brand of cuisine but also English food as well.

The Annora is due to undergo refurbishment in the New Year but we have been assured that the menu will still feature what is a winning combination of dishes, although the choice may be a little simpler and will also be available in the bar, which can only be a bonus.

Certainly, we will be returning in the near future to experience what will hopefully be another excellent meal.

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Mixed starters: £12 Lamb shank: £13.50 Creamed spinach: £1.50 King prawn biryani: £10.95 Saffron poached pear: £4.75 Wine: Two large glasses, £12.40 Coffees: £3.60 Total: £58.70