The Bush House, Usk

A VISIT to this larger-than-it-looks restaurant makes it abundantly clear why it has just been voted Argus Restaurant of the Year.

The bright, cheerfully-decorated, bistro-style restaurant has an open fire in its small bar area - particularly welcome on the cold, rainy night we were there.

Meal choices are chalked up on the board above the fire and, as proprietor and chef Robert James uses only fresh ingredients, when they're gone, they're gone.

We had deep fried crispy smoked salmon, with tomatoes and shallots, and baked avocados with goats cheese, oranges and spinach for starters.

Our main courses were roast farm chicken duxelle and cheese timbale with swede and sirloin steak with bordelaise sauce. We had a mixture of vegetables, including potatoes, courgettes and carrots.

To complete the feast, we had creme brulee and lemon tart.

All the food was presented well, and portions were big enough to be satisfying without being too much to handle.

The steak was cooked to perfection and the chicken succulent. The creme brulee was just the right mix of crunchiness and creaminess while the lemon tart had exactly the right level of tartness. A nice touch was a large jug of ice-cold water brought to the table without having to ask for it.

It's advisable to book if you want a meal on a Saturday night or Sunday lunchtime. During the rest of the week you can usually get a table.

The atmosphere is relaxed and we weren't at all hurried. The house's policy is that if you're eating there, you should be able to stay all evening without a hovering waiter silently willing you to hurry up so someone else can grab the table.

The meal, plus a drink before dinner, a couple of glasses of wine during and coffee afterwards, came to just over £45 - well worth the experience.