Whistlers is the kind of neighbourhood restaurant that we all covet – that friendly local bistro where you can pop in for a cracking lunch or dinner without it being a massive deal.
But for that to work, the food has got to be bang on the money, and at Whistlers, head chef Nathan Phelps is all about comfort food, the perfect foil to his partner Kerry Foley’s Antipodean front-of-house charm.
Which is lucky because there’s not a lot going on food-wise in Chipping Norton at the moment, so Whistlers and its 2 AA Rosettes is a stroke of luck for the burgeoning Cotswold town. READ ABOUT IT HERE
And while you can go to Whistlers for a special occasion – there is a taster menu after all – dinner somewhere relaxed, friendly and fun is just as important.
Which is why we snuck in to the fully booked restaurant, for an impromptu night out on Saturday and had a really lovely evening, unaware that there was a stinking deal to be had – two courses for £30.
Adorned with theatre billboard posters on the walls, plants and blackboards, on arrival there’s a really inviting atmosphere, which is no doubt why it’s so popular – theatre and cinema-goers arising every now and again to rush off.
Great wine, great food, great atmosphere. What else can you ask from a neighbourhood restaurant? Chipping Norton you lucked in
As for the food, after some stonking gin and tonics we dived into Nathan’s beautiful hand-made mini loaves of bread – one half brown, one white – served with delicious green olives and some rather tart balsamic vinegar whipped butter.
Then the hand dived Orkney scallop with smoked roe taramasalata, celeriac apple and rocket salad (usually £16) and the spiced roasted red pepper soup of the day with toasted seeds and nuts and more lovely bread.
The enormous scallop was cooked perfectly and served with all some very accomplished accoutrements. Incredibly it was also part of the two courses for £30 menu.
To take part in the deal, the matching mains were a roast monkfish tail with pesto risotto, salad, and a cherry vine tomato vinaigrette (usually £25), or the rump steak (£25).
The rump steak won hands down, the meat served sliced rather than whole, the mashed potato exemplary with whole grain mustard, sweet carrots and sugar snaps and a rich refreshing cider jus. Tasty, well cooked, it really hit the spot.
The roasted beetroot with whipped goats cheese and candied pecan salad (£10.50) was slightly abstemious admittedly but I wanted to leave room for dessert.
The blueberry frangipane with caramelised hazelnuts and orange sorbet (£9) arrived as a beautiful sweet sponge interlaced with that tart berry, and the orange sorbet was a dream, but did they go together? It needed something to bring it all together, something creamy.
The sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream (£9) was almost Dickensian in its treacly depths, and the perfect finish to such a cosy meal, accompanied by a lovely red Pinot Noir.
So there we are. Great wine, great food, great atmosphere. What else can you ask from a neighbourhood restaurant? Chipping Norton you lucked in.
Whistlers is at 9 Middle Row, Chipping Norton OX7 5NH. https://www.whistlersrestaurant.co.uk