FOSTON’S Ash Inn must have been a lonely place when all that passed were the occasional stagecoach or farmer’s cart.

It stands in a windswept spot high in the Cotswolds on the B4070 Slad-Birdlip Road near its junction with Calf Way, an ancient drover’s route, and takes the name of a tollgate keeper.

Its splendid isolation, though, is now a thing of the past. It is close enough to Cheltenham, Cirencester, Gloucester and Stroud to attract diners keen to enjoy a meal in a country inn without having to drive too far.

On the evening my friend and I called in it was pleasantly lively – a quality some country pubs sadly lack these days, especially on a week night.

As a matter of fact, the Foston’s Ash is enjoying a bit of a revival under its new owners, the Hine family and their Polo Pubs portfolio.

Managing director Richard Hine says it is central to their values that only the tastiest and best-raised meat is used.

The Foston’s Ash retains its unspoilt country pub atmosphere, though the polo paraphernalia with which it is subtly decorated did not appeal to me.

It was warm, comfortable and nicely lit – not too bright, nor too gloomy.

We arrived on steak night (Thursday), and decided one meaty main course would be enough.

The starters, though, were temptingly adventurous. They included pan-fried breast of pigeon, parsnip puree and bacon crisp (£7.50) and chilli-salted squid with raw vegetable salad and chilli jam (£8).

The lists of steaks is headed by the magnificent Todenham fillet (£28). We opted, though, for the more modest Todenham sirloin, which came with either a pint of ale, lager, medium glass of Coreto red wine or a British Polo gin and tonic for £19.50.

The staff were charming and helpful, and we waited just a short time for our food to arrive.

Our steaks were served with charred tomatoes, mustard leaves and nice, chunky chips.

It was the best I have tasted for some time. Chargrilled to perfection, the smokiness enhanced the flavour of the meat, rather than overwhelmed it. It was tender, juicy and full of flavour. Delicious!

Other options included ribeye (£23), fillet (£28), and a small selection of dishes for those who did not want steak, the standout of which to my eye was broad bean, pea and garlic leaf risotto with parmesan shavings (£15).

Puddings included a tempting sloe gin and vanilla poached pear with a gin and tonic sorbet. But I was done, sated and mightily impressed by a traditional inn that is clearly working hard to keep modern customers happy while supporting local suppliers.