This week’s restaurant review is not so much an essay in the descriptive arts as an exercise of memory. A visit to the establishment under consideration brightened life for Rosemarie and me in the first month of the year; for reasons too tedious to rehearse, I have waited until now to tell you about it. Happily, my notes and R’s photographs of the dishes (on this occasion too dismally incompetent to reproduce) are available to supplement what might otherwise be a rather murky recollection of the occasion. Well, what did you eat on January 23?

Cookham — rather farther than I usually venture on these outings — has become what I suppose one might term a ‘destination venue’ on account of the arrival at The White Oak of a new chef/patron Clive Dixon.

First widely acclaimed for his work at The Lords of the Manor, at Upper Slaughter, he later went on (amid much other success) to cook at the Michelin Pub of the Year, The Hind’s Head in Bray. His first connection with Henry Cripps, the White Oak’s boss, came when he assisted at the opening of his Three Oaks, in Gerrards Cross (The Greene Oak in Windsor is the third member of Henry’s very successful group.) The accompanying photographs say as much as is necessary about the look of the place. This owes everything to the good taste of Henry’s wife, Katherine, whom I have discovered only as I write (after Googling to check her name) is the daughter of Sir Terry Wogan.

Now to the food, beginning (to give the feel of the place) with some of the things that we did not eat. These included starters of mackerel tartare, potted goose terrine and frisée salad with quail’s eggs and bacon; mains of slow-cooked beef cheek steak and chips and parsley risotto; and puddings like apple crumble, hot brioche doughnuts and bakewell tart.

So what was on our menu. Well, to start I chose one of the market specials, scampi, these days styled monkfish scampi, the once rather looked-down-upon fish now, of course, being one of the most expensive on the slab. In crisp breadcrumbs, with a delicious tartare sauce heavy with capers and gherkins, the three of four chunks of fish were a delight.

Rosemarie, meanwhile, was enjoying a fillet of tea-smoked salmon, which came with a lightly poached egg, a brioche muffin, hollandaise sauce and wilted spinach. She continued with shepherd’s pie, as unlike this humble dish as could be imagined. The ‘pie’ was served in a little saucepan, and featured crispy lamb’s breast and sweetbreads, besides excellent, slightly crunchy Savoy cabbage transformed into a gourmet feast through the addition of cream and carraway seeds.

For me there was fillet of cod, which was served with the skin on, shiny pearly white, on a bed of white beans with little pieces of chorizo and lightly cooked spinach. A glass of Ana Sauvignon Blanc, from New Zealand, proved an ideal accompaniment. Rosemarie had the Corney and Barrow House Claret.

To complete the meal, I went for cheese, a glorious feast with fig and apple chutney. Best of the selection was Cote Hill Blue from Lincolnshire — soft and runny — though I also greatly enjoyed the cheddar-like ‘Tonne de Maure’ (which I must have written down incorrectly since a Google search reveals nothing of this name), the spooned-out Vacherin, and the Tornegus with its tang of tarragon. Rosemarie had chocolate fondant with hazelnut ice cream and white chocolate sauce. And she even managed carrot cake with her coffee.