The Longwall Beefeater was purpose built in 1995 at Oxford Business park on the site of part of the Rover works. Close to what is now its entrance stood the famous chimney which until its demolition still wore its wartime camouflage. Photographs and other memorabilia associated with cars and the factory supplied the Longwall’s decorative theme, but these were dispensed with in a make-over six or seven years ago, which brought the place into conformity with the Beefeater decor — thus do chains operate, though not, it has to be said, the JD Wetherpoon’s group, whose two central Oxford pubs both celebrate the history of the areas in which they were built. The Longwall’s surplus-to-requirement items were happily not chucked, however, but given to the bus and transport museum at Long Hanborough.

There is an appealingly ‘retro’ flavour about eating at a Beefeater — you can if you wish have a prawn cocktail, a mixed grill and profiteroles (though not Black Forest gateau any more) and pretend you’re back in the 1970s. I quite like this occasionally. Another motive for reviewing from time to time is that the places remain very popular. The crowds will be piling in on Tuesday for St Valentine’s Night (there’s a special three-course meal with a glass of prosecco on offer from tomorrow till then for £19.99).

Good value and reliability (if not innovation) are the selling points of the chain. Both were evident in the meal we enjoyed at the Longwall last Thursday — a bitterly cold night, you might remember, when the homely nature of the food was another plus point.

All three of us went for the evening value menu that’s offered from Monday to Thursday after 6.30pm, for £10.99 for two courses and £12.99 with three. As our friendly and attentive waitress Sharon agreed, it would have been foolish not to, in my case at least, since the splendid 10oz rib-eye steak I wanted cost more on the main menu than it did on the two-course ‘value’ one (even with a £3 supplement) where there was a starter thrown in.

The somewhat tortured nature of that foregoing sentence reflects, I suppose, the complexity of the deals on offer. It pays to think them through if you want to save money. Anyway, I enjoyed the robustly flavoured carrot soup, with the generous quantity of rustic bread and butter. The medium-cooked steak was first-class, the meat (as one hopes for with ribeye) marbled and moist. The salad was fresh and well-dressed. The chips were rather pallid and uninteresting (as our picture, right, perhaps shows). I didn’t finish the ones I had, let alone go for the unlimited repeat orders available free (and, Sharon told us, ordered by many customers). They are called ‘bottomless’ chips, by the way, which seems a very odd word. Why not unrestricted, never ending or (as above) unlimited?

Rosemarie’s classic prawn cocktail and 9oz ultimate burger were all she hoped for. Olive had no complaints about her garlic and herb breaded mushrooms (though the barbecue sauce packed a somewhat industrial punch) and the bangers and mash to follow. Both greatly enjoyed their puds — warm chocolate fudge brownie for daughter and a hefty bowl of profiteroles for mum. Both came with Mr Whippy-style ice cream — another blast from the past.

The Villa D’Elsa wines (red and white) from the bottom end of the list were both good and excellent value (£9.99 a bottle).