I liked The Swan Inn at Long Hanborough the moment I walked in on a freezing cold night – minus 7 it read on the car thermometer – and found not one but two huge log fires merrily burning in the bar.

That’s typical of my old mate Steve Chick, I thought: he doesn’t do things by halves but by doubles. In a long career of transforming pubs in the Oxford area (the New Inn at Minster Lovell was his last), he has never, I think, done one to match in traditional style and comfort what he has achieved at the Swan, which I remember as an unassuming local, with a super garden, on the road leading towards Combe. Go see for yourselves; you can’t fail to be impressed.

The evening visit I have referred to was only for a quick drink, our having picked up the fact that the place was open through earwigging a conversation at the bar a few days before while lunching (deliciously as ever) at the Trout at Tadpole Bridge.

We returned to the Swan for Sunday lunch, delighted to find, on arrival, not only Steve and his wife Katie in the bar – any kind of critics’ anonimity is, I am afraid, not possible here – but also Steve’s elder brother Johnny whose own contribution to the Oxfordshire pub scene over the years is not inconsiderable. He now has a fishing business in Dartmouth, but is back ‘home’ for a bit helping his brother-in-law George Dailey transform the Bell at Hampton Poyle into an eight-bedroom pub/hotel and restaurant, which is due to open in April.

The Chick brothers were sharing a bottle of Ruinard blancs de blancs champagne. It would have been churlish to turn down a glass as we reminisced about the old days – and looked forward to new days.

All around us were happy family groups, enjoying their lunch. It does not appear to have taken long for this place to catch on. Doubtless word spread fast about the quality of its food. Chef Richard Lenik and his team (pictured)offer an eclectic menu, with something to appeal to most tastes. Starters that day included tempura king prawns, cauliflower and cheese soup, chicken liver paté and a blackboard special of mussels. Among mains were pan-fried fillet of pork with wild mushroom fricassée, fish pie with parsley sauce, beef Wellington, spinach and ricotta cannelloni, polenta cakes with halloumi and ratatouille, and chilli king prawn and fresh squid linguini. Completing the list are such puddings as chocolate sponge with chocolate sauce, lemon cheesecake with fruit compote, and tiramisu. Cheese lovers are offered a first-class Stilton, Cropwell Bishop, with celery and cheese biscuits.

I planned to start with smoked salmon or possibly, smoked duck breast, until Rosemarie’s cries of “boring, boring” prompted a switch to the bruschetta. I was very glad I made it. The grilled garlic bread was piled with roasted red peppers, mixed olives, cherry tomatoes and superb, slightly runny buffalo mozzarella. I enjoyed it so much I could have eaten two portions and forgotten about the main course altogether.

This is, in fact, a thumping fib, since my main course was to be one of my very favourite things – a big Dover sole. Fresh up from Brixham the evening before, this wonderful fish was simply served – grilled to perfection, with a modest quantity of butter, and presented on the bone with a small portion of garlicky wilted spinach, chargrilled shavings of courgettes and a dish of small potatoes with their skins on. With a glass of the crisp and citrussy house white wine (Chateau Haut Vignals, from the Languedoc) ready for consumption with it, I felt that very few people, surely, could have been lunching better that day.

My companion was entirely happy too. She started with three pan-fried king scallops, juicy and complete with coral, served with small chunks of top-quality smoked bacon and a duxelle of flavour-packed wild mushrooms.

Then came tender noisettes of English lamb with a rich fruity Cumberland jus, sauté potatoes and crushed minted peas. But best of all, she thought, was the pudding – a lovely sticky meringue, with fresh strawberries and chestnut cream.

Heaven – but only for her, alas.

The Swan, Long Hanborough