The new-look Polecat Inn had just a year to build a fanbase in the village of Prestwood before this spring’s lockdown shut its smart doors. Now it’s open again complete with a full panoply of Covid-secure measures. And the place has been packed ever since.

It’s easy to understand the attraction. It was already known for good food, treading a tasty line between bistro style with an Mediterranean flair and a chic modern take on all-day dining.

The bonus now in these Covid times is the setting. The historic pub’s cosy bars are still here, all low ceilings, flint walls, woodfire burners, and they added a bright and airy glass-walled dining room.

But it’s the gardens that draw - a huge landscaped terrace for outdoor serviced dining, plus a lawn with seats for drinks and nibbles, and beyond that, the meadow where some families like to bring rugs and let the kids run around while enjoying drinks and snacks picnic-style. (You can also land your helicopter here).

Beyond this lie tranquil views of the Chilterns.

Our visit was on a sunny lunchtime, when the choice of food posed a dilemma. The Brunch & Lunch section of the menu (9am to 5pm) offers lots of tempting trendy light dishes.

Then there are nibbles, starters, sharing plates, creative salads and smart burgers. That’s before you contemplate the two most popular options: the pasta dishes (Venetian crab bucatini is a hit), and the wood-fired pizzas, which made the finals of last year’s National Pizza Awards. You can watch it all being prepared in the open kitchen in the dining room.

I’ve heard good things about the dishes cooked over the coals in the Josper oven and choose rump of lamb from the grill. I love the fresh take on this old favourite.

The tender rump comes with green beans, grilled gem lettuce, grilled courgette and cushions of Fior di Ricotto, with a tasty jus on the meat and balsamic dressing over the grilled veg. Great combination of flavours and textures.

My husband notices the final menu section, Home Comforts, and chooses roasted pork belly, which seems odd as I thought he was comfortable at home every day and might fancy something more original while out.

But he is well pleased with generous portions of pork slow-roasted in cider and finished on the Josper, with a perky strip of crackling topping the mash, veg and apple sauce.

A shared Banoffee Sundae tops it all off deliciously.

Oakman Inns (which has 23 other venues in the south-east and Midlands, including The Beech House in Amersham and Beaconsfield) has ranked among the Top 25 Best Companies To Work For in the UK.

The bright young team here certainly seem happy, efficient and well trained in ensuring Covid restrictions are observed but don’t detract from a pleasant al-fresco lunch outing.