Nestled away at the top of leafy Crimp Hill in Old Windsor, I must admit that initially, I almost drove past the Oxford Blue.

That’s no fault of the restaurant’s inviting façade (and rather more a testament of my poor navigational skills) and honestly, thank goodness I didn’t, because boy was I in for a treat!

You know when you eat a meal so tasty, that every mouth-watering morsel keeps playing on your mind for days to come and you keep repeatedly raving about it to every poor soul you meet?

Yep, you guessed it, this was one of those.

From the moment my dinner companion and I arrived at the pub - which reopened in January after an extensive 18 month refurbishment - we were treated with such warmth by the staff that I thought even if the food were disappointing, there was no way I could score them anything but top marks for their impeccable service and meticulous attention to detail.

With little flourishes here and there, such as a delicious complimentary entrée of venison bon bons, homemade cider bread wrapped up in a delicate parcel with the most moreish butter I’ve ever tasted, to the option of selecting our ‘weapon’ for our mains (from a stunning array of fancy looking knives), the evening was just as much about the experience as it was the cuisine.

Rather than a ruse to disguise mediocre fare, it’s clear the team, made up of husband-wife duo Daniel Crump and Margriet Vandezande-Crump, alongside chef proprietor Steven Ellis - who has worked under Jamie Oliver and Michelin-starred chefs Gordon Ramsay and Andrew Pern - is incredibly passionate not just about gastronomy but about making their guests feel completely at ease.

Opting for the braised suckling pigs trotter, with black pudding, apple, sauce gribiche and a quail egg (and extra crackling, my favourite!) to start, I was encouraged by restaurant manager Margriet not to be squeamish about the dish but to embrace it with an open mind.

As someone who always likes to pick the most unusual item on the menu, I was more than happy to accept the challenge and I wasn’t disappointed, with the meat so tender it melted in my mouth.

Then for the mains, my ale braised short rib of beef which was cooked perfectly rare, was truly a sight to behold, accompanied by delicious bone marrow, horseradish hollandaise and a heavenly portion of guilt-ridden beef fat chips - that winning combination of golden, crispy and fluffy in the centre.

The confit chicken pie with leek and pomme purée my friend chose looked equally as divine, and so carefully constructed it felt wrong to demolish it with a knife and fork.

With Windsor Great Park right on the pub’s doorstep, the sourced game really is fit for royalty, while its own garden delivers herbs and edible flowers from the soil straight to diners’ plates.

The team works directly with Crown Estate gamekeepers to ensure The Oxford Blue’s meat is fresh and ready to eat, with in-season game from the Great Park in Windsor including pheasant, venison, wood pigeon and mallard to appear on the menu.

Despite really not having any room left, we felt it would be rude to not at least sample some of the incredible sounding desserts.

Yes, this was definitely the reason and not because we’re greedy...

As a self-confessed tea fiend, whose favourite dessert is hands down crème brûlée, I struggled to pick between the Cambridge burnt cream with rosemary shortbread and the Tregothnan Earl Grey soufflé with biscuit ice cream, but eventually opted for the latter.

With a distinctive yet subtle flavour, the flavour of the tea wasn’t overpowering as I expected and the ice cream was smooth and melted perfectly into the soufflé.

The popcorn ice-cream, with banana galette, salted caramel with popcorn shoots my friend had, was unusual but fun all the same.

If all of this weren’t enough, general manager Daniel, who used to work front of house at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, insisted we try the blood orange parfait, with confit orange, mandarin and marigold leaf; not always particularly keen on citrus foods, I was pleasantly surprised.

Practically fit to burst, our lovely waitress then came over with a devilish glint in her eyes to present us with a ‘smash and share’ chocolate box, another lovely little touch to round the evening off.

Afterwards - when we were just about able to move - Daniel kindly gave us a tour of the premises, including an impressive opulent upstairs space, to be reserved for exclusive dinner parties.

Daniel clearly knows his stuff and his energy and enthusiasm are infectious.

For an evening more refined than your run-of-the-mill meal ‘down the pub', head down to The Oxford Blue, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

• The Oxford Blue is at 10 Crimp Hill, Old Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 2QY.

• For reservations call 01753 861954 or visit