Blur’s Britpop anthem Country House was what first sprang to mind when my colleague Nicola and I paid a lunchtime visit to The Clarendon in Chandlers Cross earlier this month.

Formerly a traditional boozer named The Clarendon Arms, the building has been refitted to include separate eating areas: Bar & Lounge - a snug area adorned with iconic English artwork opposite the long sleek bar; Canteen - a gastro house style dining area overlooking the gleaming open kitchen with its wood-fired oven downstairs; and (as yet to open officially) Refined Dining - the restaurant upstairs. This is an altogether different affair, a vision of Old England with handmade wallpaper, fine linen and sparkling crystal. Before you get this far however, you’ll have swung by the Best of British signage out front and buffed up your shoes on the Union Jack doormat on entry.

Bright, brash and casual are words you’d associate with the lower level and you’d reserve terms like initimate and smart, yet relaxed for the upper floor and this is exactly what co-owners David Cowham, Shaun Gamble and head chef Barry Véra had in mind for their made-to-measure eaterie.

First mooted to open late last year, The Clarendon was plagued by bad weather and unforseen setbacks, but the team wanted to get everything just so before unlocking the doors, so they opted for a slow reveal during the latter half of January this year. By our early February lunch date, the finishing touches were pretty much in place but they anticipated it would be still a few more weeks before the upstairs restaurant would be ready to receive guests.

As with the fabric of the building, Barry has lavished a great deal of care and attention on planning his menu, which features new and exciting twists on British pub grub staples such as fish or steak and chips, liver and bacon and a signature dish dreamt up by David called ham egg chips & beans. All simple stuff you might think, but the ham is home-cured and the tomato sauce for the beans homemade, the fish is a tender concoction of monkfish and the liver comes with bacon rosti. All ingredients are sourced as locally as possible and in season.

The room was buzzing by the time we sat down to eat and we were hard put to decide what to have given the exciting choices on offer. I settled for wood baked Scottish scallops (£15) to start, which were served on the half shell, herby and succulent, though I could have done without the Parmesan cheese topping. Nicola opted for the battered monkfish (£8.50) which came with an apple and radicchio salad that perfectly complemented the fish. My main of Cornish crab linguini (£15) was lifted by a subtle chilli top note and contained a generous helping of crab meat. For Nicola, the roast breast of duck with black pudding, beetroot and apple (£19) was a big hit. The duck was perfectly pink and the accompaniment of chunks of black pudding and slow-roasted beetroot mixed with apple and pearl barley made for an adventurous and intriguing meal. We both felt that people who might normally be put off by the idea of black pudding would have been very pleasantly surprised.

Diners shouldn’t be fazed either to find a Greek lamb stew or South Indian fish curry on the menu. Both use British produce but are served up in ways that extend way beyond our shores.

Barry, who opened his first restaurant the Véra Restaurant Café and Bar in Melbourne, Australia in 2006, is on a constant search for new tastes. To date, he has travelled extensively in India, Morocco and Syria looking for inspiration for his TV series and book Feast Bazaar and more recently he’s been journeying through Greece for his next title, so (take out so) hence the inclusion of traditional dishes from these countries. His Italian-inspired braised rabbit with trofie pasta is also testament to flavours garnered from a global cooking pot.

The bar menu, ranging from toad in the hole, pork pie and piccalilli or dunking doughnuts to beef satay, spiced prawns or Syrian dips & wood baked bread (£5 each), is further proof of how far they’ll go to please your tastebuds. Or, if you fancy something that’s not on the menu like a wood-fired pizza, ask nicely and they’ll try to accommodate. Younger diners can also customise their plates to suit.

The only drawback right now is you’ll have to wait a while for an evening table in the Canteen and longer for the fine dining, but lunchtimes and for snacking there’s plenty of scope.

Back at our table, we didn’t have room for afters though the chilled vanilla rice pudding with warm spiced pineapple, Eccles cakes & Wensleydale cheese or choc pot & cookies all sounded tempting enough. To drink, I enjoyed a delicious glass of lemony Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve (£7) and with wines by the glass starting from an affordable £3.50, a quick tipple is not going to break the bank. There’s even an English wine on the menu, the Bacchus, Primrose Hill, Tenterden, Kent (£34) and an extensive collection of teas including a unique Clarendon blend, so you can be as ‘true Brit’ as you want.

Details: The Clarendon Redhall Lane Chandlers Cross 01923 270009