Katherine MacAlister adds The Plough in Witney to her list of favourite pubs

It was an anonymous tip off, left by a man with a husky voice and presumably a beige mac. He wasn’t alone.

The calls came in thick and fast, social media following suit, all wanting to know the same thing.

Had I been to The Plough at Witney? If not I must. Immediately.

With a rallying cry, I immediately booked a table, turning up on Friday night in the kind of gloriously sunny weather that demanded a beer garden. Did they have one? Unlikely

From the outside,The Plough has a neat, inauspicious doorway at the top of the High Street, leading into a cool, spartan interior.

We heard laughter coming from above, where a comedy night was raging, and then wandered through an unremarkable looking tunnel, emerging blinking into the daylight to find a wonderfully long garden stretching out in front of us, absolutely heaving, unsurprisingly, with people in the know laughing, eating and drinking.

How did I not been here?

It was on the radar actually. I knew it had been taken over by a couple of young lads keen to make a name for themselves and give Witney something a bit different.

But last time I spoke to them they had opened up on a drinking only basis, wanting to get the food right and take their time before revving up the kitchens to their full capacity and serving food.

The only trouble was that they somehow forgotten to tell me that they had employed a new chef called Pete Dovaston who was doing great things, packing the place out night after night.

It matters not, because I was immediately enthralled, enchanted by this hidden kingdom I knew nothing about.

Presumably it was one of those lasagne and garlic bread kind of places, serving decent pub grub on the river washed down with a nice lager top.

Wrong. One look at the menu and I realised Pete Dovaston wasn’t a baked potato kind of guy.

I mean who else serves octopus in Witney on a Friday night?

The specials board should have alerted me earlier - slow cooked pigs cheek with a smoked potato puree and a granny smith and mustard jus, or the chicken liver mousse with a lemon and thyme marmalade and grilled sourdough.

Panting with excitement like Stormy Daniels on a home video, we ordered as soon as possible - some cold rose and polenta fries while we perused the exciting menu.

Our waitress Sophie was a gift from the gods, only here over the summer on a break from uni - they should tie her to the pub table and beg her to stay.

The polenta crisps were prompt, crisp, hot and delicious. They were also unlike any polenta I’d ever eaten, soft and smooth inside like mashed potato, they were thick and golden, perfect for dunking in the smokey Sriracha mayo (I had to ask... it’s a hot sauce).

Then the grilled octopus, chorizo, squid ink potatoes and salsa verde (£7.95) which was brave and ambitious but beautifully executed.

The pea and asparagus soup with mint and shaved asparagus (£5.75) could have been lighter, less dense, less pond-like and more summery, but was already a step above the ordinary.

The piece de resistance were the mains: the 7oz local beef burger with cheese, bacon, jam, brioche bap and fries – perfectly cooked being both moist and red in the middle, and as such a marvel to behold (see picture).

But the cauliflower, house ricotta, caper and raisin with toasted grains (£9.50 for heaven’s sake). Pretty as a picture (see photo), it tasted even better, delicate, clever, subtle, the smoked root vegetable was served griddled, and laid on a silky soft sweet puree offset by the sweet marinated raisins, salty capers, soft cheese and and crunchy puffed rice.

After that I cared less but managed to squeeze in an Earl Grey creme brulee which came with a rich tea biscuit crumb and honey jam (£5.95) and was as clever and well executed as it sounded.

The bill for two was £66, £20 of that booze, which I though was staggeringly good value.

So perhaps The Hollybush’s reign is finally over, although there’s more than enough room for both pub’s to flourish.

Thanks for the tip off. Just let me in on the action a bit earlier next time!