WHEN Steve Chick completely renovated The New Inn, Minster Lovell, a couple of years ago, he spent as much on the building work as he had for the freehold of the original pub.

Using a builder based in Minster Lovell, and sourcing as many materials as possible locally, he stripped back the walls to their original stone, unearthed several superb fireplaces, and in doing so, turned a derelict pub into what can now be described as a stylish building, with a rustic feel.

He even included some small stone arches into the design, which were built originally for one of the Oxford colleges by a stonemason in Long Hanborough.

The New Inn stands back from the Burford Road, which means it is but seven minutes drive from Witney, about ten minutes from Burford.

My friend and I were trawling the area in search of antique shops that might stock the small chair she needed for her flat, so dog was not with us when we called at the New Inn. Perhaps that was just as well as a large sign saying 'No Dogs' is prominently displayed on both gates leading to the garden, which boasts one of the most breathtaking views in Oxfordshire. The view is celebrated inside too. A glorious undulating landscape, that stretches past the River Windrush, Stockley Copse and out towards Shipton-under-Wychwood, can be enjoyed from tables placed by the far windows. It's worth visiting this pub just for the view - even in the winter months, it's simply breathtaking.

We grabbed a table next to a roaring log fire in the upper area by the entrance, though there were two other open-plan dining areas to choose from, both of which are stylishly decorated.

I chose to drink a half-a-pint of Doom Bar, brewed by the award-winning Cornish brewery Sharps, as it's an ale I have not tried before. Apparently this was originally stocked as a guest ale at a customer's request. It proved so popular it's now available all the time. Having enjoyed its tasty, dry fruity finish, I can understand why.

We could have made our lunch choice from the special menu which offered three courses for £13.95, with main dishes such as steak and kidney pudding, pork steak and pepper sauce or chicken Rogan Josh listed, but decided three courses might be too much. In the evening, a similar menu offers three courses for £16.95.

Instead, we selected from the main menu. I chose Mr Wallis's hot chicken salad, at £8.95, pictured, though I never did get to find out who Mr Wallis was. Nevertheless, he does make an exceedingly good salad. It was hot, spiced with a sweet-and-sour chilli sauce and mixed with loads of delicious new potatoes. I ordered a bowl of chips to go with it, hoping (as had been the case last time I called) that they would be thick chunky home-cooked chips. They weren't - I was given a bowl of straw potatoes, which proved a big disappointment.

However, the salad was great, and my friend's steak and ale pie (£10.95) was superb. We treated ourselves to a bowl of Mat's Minster Mushrooms (£5), to go with our meals. Not that we needed anything extra - but because I know that any dish served here, which bears the name of head chef Matt Tucker, is bound to be scrumptious - and it was. The mushrooms had been cooked in a rich creamy sauce, that enriched their flavour perfectly.

Other dishes on this menu included: Swordfish steak (£14.50), Mat's half-shoulder of Welsh lamb (£15.50), pork costing (£14.50), or free-range chicken breast, wrapped in pancetta, at £14.50.

There are also six different sandwiches to choose from at lunchtime, priced from £4.95, or you can share a deli board, costing £6.95, for a selection of cheeses, and £7.95 for the butcher's board.

We headed for the Burford antique shops feeling full of good food.