My two things are travel and food.
A pretty expensive selection admittedly. But in recent years I have curbed my shopping habit (slightly) to help fund my two favourite things. Which means that sometimes I eat out in some slightly (or very) extravagant places. It’s just where I chose to spend my pennies. If you are inclined the same way then I have some real treats coming up for you. Over the next three months I have three michelin star restaurant bookings lined up. And I cannot wait to share what I thought to them all with you.
First up is Sir Charles Napier just outside of Oxford.
The location was actually chosen by my friend Waverley, as the location of her birthday celebrations. It wasn’t a restaurant I had heard of before, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the cosy little set-up nestled in the Oxfordshire countryside.
The restaurant itself clearly used to be a house, and when you are there you do feel a bit like you are at a dinner party at someone’s house (we ate in what I assume was once the dining room). Except that the host of this dinner party cooks really really good grub. Exquisite in fact.
We were greeted by a particularly friendly ensemble of staff, and a fine array of artwork. Yep, the restaurant is packed with sculptures and paintings to delight you while the food tantalises your tastebuds (the gorilla in the header is just a snippet).
So, it’s probably time to get down to the business. The food.
We opted for the a la carte menu, and obviously couldn’t resist the full three courses, which came out between £50 – £60 (£50 for Dani who drove, and £60 when accompanied with some wine).
The restaurant also offers a tasting menu, which is six courses for £65 (plus alcohol). So, if you are a bit indecisive and like to try a little of everything this is a must.
First up I chose the wild mushroom risotto with a crispy quail egg. The dark plate doesn’t quite do this dish justice. The mushroom flavour was so deliciously intense that I just couldn’t get enough of it. It was definitely my favourite part of the whole meal, so I started off well!
You will be happy to know that we are the kind of friends that share, so I can confidently report on Waverley and Dani’s choices too…
Dani chose the Double baked smoked haddock and cheddar soufflé, which we were all nearly swayed by. It was fabulously light, the haddock and cheese was perfectly balanced – subtle enough not to overpower but strong enough to taste.
The birthday girl, Waverley, had the scallops with crisp chicken wing. I am a huge scallop fan, so I always knew that I was going to love this. It was thoroughly delicious.
Then it was the main event. I chose the roast cod, with sweet and sour lentils and crab wantons. It was all amazing, but the crab wantons were my highlight of the dish.
The girls chose the partridge. My taster of it was yummy and perfectly cooked.
And dessert? I had the chocolate terrine with lime ice cream and candied hazelnuts. I wasn’t actually expecting to like the ice cream, and nearly asked to switch it for vanilla but I am so pleased I didn’t. It was tangy and refreshing and completely offset the richness of the chocolate.
The perfect treat for a chocolate lover.
Waverley’s rhubarb souffle was a little on the sharp side for me but still nice and fluffy, and a great choice if you want to opt for a hot pudd.
I have to confess, no-one quite makes treacle tart like my mum. But Dani’s choice came pretty close. I wasn’t so keen on the stout ice cream, which is just not at all my thing, but still a really nice dessert.
So, that’s your lot. A tasty meal, from a lovely bunch of attentive and friendly staff, in beautifully quaint surroundings.
Apparently in summer they try and seat you on the patio to enjoy the beautiful garden. But most definitely worth a trip whatever the time of year!