There was a welcoming feel about The Fat Fox that struck me the moment I crossed its threshold — as I remarked to landlord John Riddle when he stepped forward to say hello. In fact, we felt at home even before we left the car, having been guided into our parking space by a feline attendant we were later to learn was called Trouble. Not that he caused any, being content to sprawl beside us as we ate, ready we felt sure to help us out should any assistance in food disposal be required. Later we met Minxy, the second of the cats bequeathed to the place by a departing chef, and for good measure a handsome visiting dog called Layla.

She was at the other end of the building among the ‘drinkers’, as I’ll dare to style them, mindful that the term has its dangers. Rosemarie was once lumped into such a group (“drinker Rosemarie Perry”) on page 3 of The Sun, as if drinking were her sole raison d’être. It isn’t quite. Seriously, in ‘pubby’ pubs, which The Fat Fox is in part, she is not going to let a good beer pass her by. Brakspear’s delicious Oxford Gold was sampled by her with relish post-dinner as I eyed her enviously and toyed with a coffee (being the driver).

By this time we were getting on famously (from my viewpoint at least) with John and his wife, Katy. Though they have lived in the village for many years, The Fat Fox, a Brakspear’s pub, has been theirs only since last April. John, a one time brewery area manager, had been running gastropubs in London — at one of which he employed Leon Bugler, now in The Fat Fox’s kitchen — while Katy taught pilates, as she still does.

In their time the pub has been given a change of name from The Fox and Hounds, (thereby avoiding confusion with another F&H in nearby Christmas Common) and a tasteful makeover. Included in this was the creation of a stylish restaurant where our meal was served (under the watchful eye of the attentive Trouble).

Our waiter having waxed lyrically on its behalf, the Scotch egg with mustard mayonnaise could not be resisted by Rosemarie as her starter. It was rather more substantial than she expected, its unsuitability for the calorie conscious having been rather played down in the sales patter. But since it tasted so good — the yolk just set, the sausage meat case hot and crisp on the outside — this was forgiven.

For me there was what the menu called “hot smoked salmon”, supplying an illustration of how a hyphen can make all the difference. I had expected chunky smoked salmon served hot (like Loch Fyne’s Bradan Rost); instead, this was hot-smoked salmon served cold. It was excellent, though some might have thought it could have been a tad more distant from raw. The horseradish coleslaw (which I vow henceforward to make at home) was a fine accompaniment.

My main course was more fish — a beautifully cooked chunk of halibut on a fricassée of vegetables (principally purple sprouting and asparagus) with wild garlic, parsley and caper butter. Rosemarie had beautifully fresh beer-battered, deep-fried whiting — an underrated fish too rarely offered — with log-size triple-cooked chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce.

We drank an unoaked Aussie chardonnay (Hardy’s Mill Cellars), the final drops of which disappeared with Rosemarie’s portion of clafoutis — a well-managed French batter pudding with fruit, in this case apples.