THE last time I went to The Walnut Tree in Bourne End, I was dancing to a rock band and drinking beer.

Fast forward a few years, and the ‘dance floor’ has made way for rustic furniture, immaculate tables, neat napkins and specials boards.

New owner, Chris Grego, has taken over and has certainly branched out.

The warm, friendly and attentive service on entering the bar was noticeable, and my mum and I were greeted with smiles and chatter from the locals.

Indeed aside from the obvious lack of a band in the corner, what was apparent was how busy it was for a Monday night, the day when pubs and restaurants are usually empty.

Instead the venue, in Hedsor Road, was generally full of dining couples, or men who had "just gone to walk the dog, dear" and had legged it to the pub with the hound in tow for a swift half.

What was really lovely was that there were about three pooches in the bar, and being a dog lover, this was a welcome touch. It felt very homely and relaxed.

My mum was delighted with the changes, having last been there in what was probably the 1980s. The menu featured a great selection and it was hard to choose.

I went for the beetroot and goats cheese salad with honey mustard dressing and pine nuts (£5.95) to start. I absolutely loved it. It was one of those dishes that you still crave a couple of days later. The goats cheese was slightly warm and went perfectly with the dressing.

My mum chose the smoked haddock and salmon fish cakes with dill and crème fraiche (£5.95), which I had also eyed up. They were awesome; chunky and fresh with a tangy accompaniment.

For the mains, I went for my usual, a duck dish, which was off the specials board. They offered roast breast of duck with cherry sauce, spinach and sautéed potatoes (£16.95).

However, as potatoes are like a sedative for me and I wanted to provide a lively, entertaining evening for my mum, I asked for vegetables instead.

The duck was tender and juicy, although I thought the chef could have discarded the very ends which were a little chewier. However by using the ends it did provide a well-presented dish, and looked quite beautiful with the colourful array of veg stacked up alongside it.

The vegetable tower consisted of carrots, mange tout, leek and cabbage, so not just the usual cauliflower and peas.

The combination was scrummy, although I did feel I missed out on the potatoes which I think would have been spectacular with this dish. My fault.

Mum was in raptures over the breaded chicken breast filled with garlic butter served with pesto dressing, chunky chips and salad (£10.95). She called it a ‘posh kiev’ and loved the stacked chips.

I passed on the dessert for two reasons: firstly I was very full, and secondly I was thinking of my figure. However I regretted it as soon as I’d left the restaurant.

I was desperate to try out the homemade apple and berry crumble, served with vanilla ice cream (£5.65) - so much so that even after leaving the restaurant I considered heading back.

I hope my thighs appreciated the gesture.

See The Walnut Tree, 01628 532417