AN impromptu early evening meal following a visit to a well-known vintners on a Basingstoke business park, on a beautiful sunny July evening proved a frustrating exercise in terms of trying to find The Fox at North Waltham from the direction of Basingstoke!

Happily, after the meal, the friendly and very helpful manager explained that the simplest way of finding them is to take the slip road off the A303 from Andover, in the direction of the Basingstoke Crematorium and shortly afterwards take the turning left to North Waltham.

But it was worth the peregrination around the leafed-up minor lanes of Steventon and North Waltham seeking out this pub, which is set in open countryside commanding splendid views from their beer garden.

We were struck that this was a pub with restaurant that is not too ‘made-over’, retaining a true pub feel with a separate bar which was indeed patronised by ale-imbibing locals.

A prominent play is made of their meritorious entry in the Good Pub Guide which is richly deserved.

I ordered a sirloin steak (£18.50) with homemade fries and my wife had the steak Diane (£18.50) which was served on a bed of home-made rosti.

We ate out in the beer garden and enjoyed the setting. All the elements accompanying our steaks were homemade with roughly cut mushrooms and ‘rustic’ onion rings accompanying my steak.

I enjoy my steaks cooked rare but it may be that you would need to order medium-rare here if you like it rare.

Mine was more blue but given the quality of the 32-day aged beef and the provision of a steak knife this presented no issues for me personally.

The crowning glory of my meal, for which my wife looked on enviously, was a superb apple bread and butter pudding (£6) served with toffee sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream which was flecked with vanilla pod seeds. A dessert that would not be embarrassed in a fine dining establishment.

To underline the homemade offering the menu is sensibly short (I am always suspicious of huge menus in modest establishments) with starters from £5.50 to £7.50, and main courses £11.50 to £20.50, and no charges for accompanying sides.

The manager and his team could not be more friendly and helpful.