Stepping into the Farmhouse Bakery & Cafe is like entering a rich friend's house for the first time, writes JAMES ROBERTS.

You cannot help but marvel at the impressive, spacious interior, while also trying to act like you are used to visiting places like this.

Thankfully, this bakery has none of the pretentiousness that your rich friend may or may not have.

The business moved to its current base, on the outskirts of Steventon village, near Abingdon, last year.

But it is now almost 40 years old, having been set up by Kate Bitmead back in 1982.

After the traditional bakery in Steventon closed down, Ms Bitmead decided to set up what was the Old Farmhouse Bakery, initially located in a converted shire horse cart-shed in the village.

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The operation is still run by the Bitmead family, alongside a small team, and their pride in the business was clear during our short visit.

Staff were friendly and attentive throughout, while the atmosphere was welcoming and family-friendly.

From the outside, the purpose-built building really does look like a house, with a chimney and patio doors leading out into a garden area.

The Oxford Times:

Even the entrance looks like somebody's front door, so I was relieved to find myself in the cafe, rather than a family's hallway.

My first thought was that this was not like any cafe I had seen before.

The building has a minimalist design, with a large open area in the centre of the ground floor, across the room from the counter.

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To your right are half a dozen tables and when we visited, early on a Saturday morning, the majority were already in use.

But I immediately gravitated to the left of the room, where a range of freshly-baked breads and pastries and British Farmhouse Cheese sat invitingly on another set of counters.

The Oxford Times:

Behind the counter is a big glass window that gives customers a view of staff in the surprisingly large kitchen going about their work.

A staircase sends you up to another floor of tables, which must surely be regularly utilised, based on the quality of the food.

Ah, the food. I do not say this lightly, but this might just have been the best breakfast I have ever had.

As a shamelessly greedy pig, I picked the biggest item on the menu, which can be ordered from until 11.45am each day.

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This was the Farmhouse Breakfast, an imposing but not insurmountable challenge boasting two Cumberland sausages, two rashers of smoked back bacon, two fried eggs, beans, grilled tomatoes, chestnut mushrooms, and two slices of toast. If that does not make you hungry, nothing will.

Vegetarian and mini farmhouse breakfasts are also available.

The breakfast was everything a full English should be - decent value, good quality ingredients, lovingly presented, non-greasy and big enough that you do not need lunch.

Georgia had the toasted ciabatta, which sandwiched three rashers of smoked back bacon and a fried egg. She was similarly complimentary.

The Oxford Times:

At close to £10 and £6 respectively, these were not cheap but just about affordable, as was the majority of the menu - although £3 for a warmed croissant struck me as a bit steep.

Plus tea and coffee, breakfast came to a little over £20. The lunch menu is similarly priced with a bit of variety, with dishes ranging from sandwiches and quiches to burgers and chips.

Before leaving, we visited the bread and cheese counter, as it would have been rude not to.

All bread and pastries are hand-made from scratch in the bakery, using locally-sourced ingredients where possible.

We bought a couple of white rolls and a croissant for later in the day, which cost £2.50 altogether.

I left feeling full and very pleased that I followed my convictions - I had driven past this place hundreds of times, always thinking how I should visit, before I finally set foot inside.

In fact, I was very tempted to return a few hours later to try out the lunch menu.

I decided against it, as that might look a bit odd - but just try and stop me visiting again very soon.