The Oxford Kitchen
Restaurant in Oxford
Modern British Restaurant
Support local farmers, buy regional produce and for God’s sake go to The Oxford Kitchen, says David Harfield.
It’s no secret that we’re living in the age of the oligarch, a time when business magnates are buying up acres of property, football teams, and even treasured institutions, all in the name of financial progress. With enough money, they’d stick a McDonald’s in Buckingham Palace (giving an all new meaning to a ‘Royale with Cheese’). It warmed me, therefore, to step through the doors of The Oxford Kitchen, a newly-refurbished gem in Oxford’s culinary crown that is independently owned and has a heavy focus on sourcing local ingredients and supporting farmers within their local region. Oh, and the food is frickin’ fantastic, too.
Led to our table in the upstairs restaurant by the wonderfully charismatic new manager, Gregory Martine, we indulge in a brace of J de Telmont Grande Reserve NV, Champagnes and peruse the menu. John Footman, the Michelin-starred head chef has gone for a Modern British theme that leans heavily on Francophilic influences, which is music to my ears as a ‘Frenchie’ devotee (the style of food, not the character in Grease...although I did like her perm).
An amuse-bouche of cinnamon-peppered onion bhaji is paired with a shot of white onion velouté and prepares our palates for the starters. Three plump scallops are arranged in an equilateral triangle across a slate board, decorated with dew-soaked glacial leaves, tiny white cubes of lardo and salted pineapple, the addition of which combines with a wedge of crisped pork belly to lend the classic dish a curiously Hawaiian tinge. An impossibly light Cornish crab salad is anchored by small segments of coriander-cured tuna and a smattering of caviar, the bitter saltiness of the fish eggs complementing the lemon dressing to a tee. The first courses are paired with a delightful Chablis that’s served slightly above chilled, so its citric flavours shine through.
The main course of Cotswold (see, locally sourced!) venison is drizzled with an 80% Guanaja chocolate jus that gives just the subtlest of cocoa nuances, making a welcome change from the usual choco-drenching that often accompanies the tender meat. Scattered sprout leaves are a nice touch, as are the parsnip tips set out like turrets throughout the oblong plate; the inclusion of poached quince lends a sweetness to an otherwise delectably savoury dish. The roast duck breast is set out like an abstract painting, swirls of pak choi atop halved-oblong heritage carrots spattered with an ambrosial date and tamarind purée that lends itself to the soft texture of the meat.
With minimal persuasion from Gregory we accept a pair of desserts, along with two glasses of dessert wine that pleasantly complete our boozy afternoon. The trifle with poached figs and amaretto cream is topped with crumbled almonds and is described to us as ‘orgasmic’. Did it live up to the hype? We wanted multiple. A spiced nougatine parfait is equally delicious and ever-so-slightly lighter than the trifle, the quince pairing well with the hazelnut sponge. A wonderful end to a delightful afternoon spent outside London’s city limits.
Residents of Oxford, occasional visitors and tourists alike, I implore you: boycott the homogenous and evermore-ubiquitous chains that are insidiously spreading across our country (from our window in the restaurant we can see a Starbuck’s across the road, a blight on anybody’s landscape) and support businesses like The Oxford Kitchen. Let’s bring some class back to the upper class.
David Harfield is a freelance food and travel writer and the director of the social media solutions company PepperStorm Media
Photographs courtesy of The Oxford Kitchen
|Reviewer's Rating||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Need to book||Advisable|
|Clientele||Families, dates, local business people|
|Restaurant good for||Couples, Families with children, Doing business|
|Cost per head||Medium|
|Dress Code||Smart Casual|
|Dining Options||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
The quirky pop soundtrack adds a fun element.
The set menus and special occasion offers are always worth a look. One course from £11.50, two-courses from £15.50 and three-courses from £18.50. À la carte starters from £7; Mains from £15.50 and Desserts from £6. Wine from £3.75 a glass and £18.50 a bottle (House Wines). Cocktails from £8 and Champagne from £8 a glass.
Last updated on 07-02-2015