At a time when so many of our public houses are being transformed into residential properties – and quite often into a number of residential properties – it is interesting to note that in former times the opposite process sometimes occurred. An obvious example is The Boundary House on the outskirts of Abingdon, which used to be the home of Cecil Kimber, inventor of the MG sports car; a second transformation affected a former doctor’s house in Abingdon Road, Oxford, which became The Duke of Monmouth.

Always very much in the mould of a local, the place was not exactly unwelcoming of outsiders, but on the few times I ventured in I saw few other strangers in evidence. This was the very last place, you might think, for a bold experiment in catering such as that conducted over the past year by Renata Maag and her business partner Thomas Furrer. Leaving behind their native Switzerland – where she had been in local government, he an accountant – they took over the place determined to run it as a blend of the old-fashioned British boozer it had always been with a restaurant specialising in the fare of their native country.

News of the change was flagged up from the start on large boards in front of the building. These had successfully lured in various people of my acquaintance, a number of whom reported warmly about what they had found. I resisted visiting until a reader who emailed last autumn followed up with a reminder. As ill luck would have it my visit last week coincided with the arrival of a new temporary boss in the kitchen, who had been given no clue as to how some of the foodstuffs were sourced, which resulted in some items missing from the menu. (Hearing about this from members of the staff, Rosemarie and I admired the honesty, if perhaps not the wisdom, of the confession.) I, for instance, had been tempted by the main course dish of risotto with porcini. “Anticipation adds to the enjoyment: just wait 20 minutes and you’ll get a risotto from Ticino, Switzerland’s southernmost county.”

Alas, the wait would have been much more than 20 minutes, as there were no porcini to be had. Perhaps it would have been quicker if the risotto really had come from Ticino.

But, to be fair, the dish I chose instead proved very enjoyable. This was a big bowl of penne Swiss Alpine style, the pasta slightly al dente and served with Swiss cheese and fragments of bacon (trimmed of fat as I requested). I also ordered a ‘seasonal’ mixed salad, this season seeming to offer mainly iceberg lettuce and carrot, with a few slices of cucumber and a sweet dressing. I thought this rather pricey at £3.50.

The most obvious Swiss choice was fondue. This came in three varieties – beef cooked in wine (Rotanzi), beef cooked in stock (Chinoise) and bread and pickles in melted cheese (‘moitié-moitié’ – half and half, usually meaning half Gruyère and half Fribourg Vacherin cheeses). The cost is £14.80 per person, but it can only be ordered for a minimum of two. I shall not reveal which one of us was disinclined to try it.

Asked to name another Swiss dish, most would say rösti. This is offered here, and Rosemarie tried it. The potato cake, made from golden-fried layers of sliced potato, was perhaps not as large as might have been expected (certainly at the price), being about three inches in diameter. She chose a topping of cheese and bacon (she might also have tried any two of fried egg, ham and mushroom). The bacon was fine; the cheese virtually non-existent. A possible explanation for this was suggested a little later when we were told the cheese course was off. Another order problem, presumably.

Instead of sharing cheese, we divided an overcooked slice of chocolate cake (baked to a brittle crispness), with a ball of cognac ice cream from the celebrated manufacturer Mövenpick.

I had begun with delicious smoked trout mousse, served with capers and sliced white onion; Rosemarie had carrot soup, which was fine if rather sweet. We tried two interesting French wines: Pasquiers sauvignon blanc (with some vermentino) and the Pasquiers shiraz (with viognier).

The pub possesses a pretty dining area to the left of the front door. Our table was the one in the corner in the photograph on the left. That night the others were all unoccupied throughout our visit but I gathered in a conversation after dinner with Renata that this was unusual.