The Artichoke, which has won many accolades and awards over the years, has just received its first star in the newly published Michelin Guide 2020.

Chef Laurie Gear, who opened the restaurant in 2002 along with his wife Jacqueline who runs Front of House, says: “We are of course delighted. But equally satisfying is the fact that 30 per cent of our clients have been visiting us regularly since day one.”

So what do they, and the Michelin inspectors, like about it? We make our way to this quaint 16th-century Grade II listed building right in the heart of Amersham old town, and discover a relaxed restaurant that retains its old beams and some exposed walls while creating a stylish and frippery-free interior.

We’re greeted with smiles and shown to a table in view of the open kitchen, where we can watch Laurie, right-hand-man Ben Jenkins and their team labouring to bring forth what must be a bewildering array of dishes, judging by the diverse menus.

What a choice: the set lunch menu (a very reasonable £30 for three courses), lunch tasting menu, a la carte, and six- or eight-course tasting menus. Each can have a recommended flight of wines for the true gourmet experience.

First comes bread and butter. And we begin to realise what makes this place special. The bread is fresh and crusty with the heady aroma of - what’s this? - Chiltern black ale from the brewery. A pillow of whipped butter is mixed with bee pollen, giving a subtle but distinctive flavour. Just give me a chunk of cheese and this will do me fine for a gorgeous lunch.

But no, an amuse-bouche arrives: a little ball of taramasalata tossed in tiny crisp cubes of cucumber and kohlrabi. Mmm, good.

Then my starter: truffle choux bun. This intriguing title reveals a stunning dish. A choux ball is filled with a lusciouly rich mushroom parfait, with cep ketchup, a dainty clutch of tiny enoki fungi, strips of salsify, and the richest Lincolnshire cheese sauce with a grating of truffle over all. Oh, and a cute cheese cracker in the shape of an autumn leaf. Beautifully crafted, and best of all, utterly delicous.

We are in the for long haul so our main of venison comes along, tender and just on the right side of rare with a very tasty venison salami, beef dripping potato and beetroot puree. It has dainty blue coins scattered over, which turn out to be made from red cabbage, I can’t think how.

The meal ends on a high note with a seasonal pear dessert: an intensely flavoured Poire William sorbet with poached and pressed pear, mixed seeds tuille and vanilla cream cheese.

Laurie and Jacqueline are keen to credit their whole team, kitchen and front of house, for their success..