YOU know you are getting the very best of seasonal produce at The Kingham Plough — because the menu changes daily to reflect it.

We visited in freezing March, so comfort food was what we craved. Cock-a-leekie soup, pork loin with a celeriac and apple gratin, Banbury cake — just three examples of delicious food with warming credentials on that day’s menu.

She did herself proud on BBC TV’s Great British Menu, where she was runner-up to Bristol Michelin-starred chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias in the south-west round, but Emily Watkins, head chef and joint owner of The Kingham Plough with her husband Miles Lampson, was not in the kitchen that evening.

With the imminent arrival of her third baby, she was at home — but two of the courses she cooked for the popular TV cookery contest were on the menu, with the proceeds going to Comic Relief.

We were welcomed by Miles — an ebullient host — and shown to our table in the mezzanine dining area of this traditional ‘scrubbed pine’ country pub. Miles and Emily have owned it since 2007, and its consistently innovative and tasty food keeps it high in the popularity stakes.

And obviously her TV debut has enhanced Emily’s credentials even further. We overhead a young couple at another table telling the waitress that they were there specifically to try the Comic Relief dishes, and were staying over in one of the pub’s guest rooms.

Armed with vodka and tonics, we perused the menu du jour while nibbling on home-made cereal bread and French butter.

The choice of starter was difficult. For me, it was a toss-up between the Barkham Blue tart with a caramelised chicory and pickled walnut salad — definitely comfort food — and the venison salami with a crisply breadcrumbed Burford Brown egg and spinach salad. I plumped for the latter, as venison salami was a new one on me. It was delicious, and the orange-yolked egg was a perfect accompaniment.

My husband Steve had a ‘trifle’ of Cornish crab, wild garlic and tomato. It was a clever combination which looked and tasted good, he said.

Emily has always been a fan of '‘sous vide’ — the ultra-slow method of cooking using a hot water bath. Steve’s main course, skirt steak, had been cooked using this method, we surmised. It was a tiny bit chewy for his liking, but beautifully presented with a very rich bone marrow butter, crispy onion rings, Emily’s amazing triple-cooked chips and salad.

I hovered undecided over the Comic Relief main course — a ‘shoot lunch’ of venison, beetroots and sloe gin — but having had a venison starter, I went instead for the free range Madgetts Farm Duck Wellington.

This was a fantastic take on the more usual Beef Wellington and it was served with some chunky duck fat-roasted potatoes and tenderstem broccoli. It was absolutely sublime, and one of the best things I have tasted in ages.

The puddings included Emily’s Comic Relief dish, a clotted cream and rhubarb split with rich clotted cream shortbread and sweets. There was also a little pop bottle of rhubarb fizz. We shared, and it was a fun end to a great meal.

Other puddings included Banbury cake with Earl Grey tea sorbet, and ‘cocoa pops’ with Guernsey milk.

There is an excellent cheeseboard too including Aveton and Burford from Kingham cheesemaker Roger Crudge, and the ubiquitous Stinking Bishop from Cotswold cheesemaker Charles Martell. They are served with home-made apple jelly, oatcakes and hazelnut fruit bread and you can have a selection of three, five, or all nine if you wish.

Always innovative and never predictable, The Kingham Plough continues to maintain a high standard. It is well worth an outing to the Evenlode valley to enjoy this memorable cuisine.

The Kingham Plough, Church Street, Kingham. Call 01608 658327 or see