Anyone who’s been to a Table 13 Supper Club will understand the joy of pitching up to a residential house in Wheatley, traipsing across the gravel, knocking hopefully on the back door and then being let in to Oxford’s only fine dining plant-based pop up.
Masterminded by the brilliant Georgia Gallacher, the self-taught Heston Blumental of the plant-based world, she spends her time concocting, preserving, drying, baking, pickling, smoking, fermenting, brewing and inventing sustainable ingredients and dishes with which to tempt you with.
What’s even better is that Georgia thinks outside the box; no plant-based fine dining restaurants in Oxford? She opens one herself. No funds for a stand-alone premises? Convert the family home. No room for endless tables? Eat communally.
Nothing stands in her way and as such, the local hospitality arena has to raise its game accordingly.
So yes there we were, in a kitchen, seated with a whole new group of people, all as excited as we were about Georgia’s food, in our case a group of young ex Cambridge graduates at a birthday reunion, complete with tiaras, who couldn’t have been nicer.
Georgia’s impressive sustainable ethos also means that nothing goes to waste.
Take the T13 Vermouth cocktail made with surplus wine and seasonal botanics from the garden, it tasted divine, rich and raisiny. I’d buy a bottle myself!
Or the celeriac bechamel croquette amuse bouche with black walnut mayo and onion ash (made from any onion and garlic skins used in cooking, blackened in the oven and ground in to a zero waste garnish), the walnuts grown in the garden.
But enough, because our amuse bouche, or snacks, as Georgia calls them begin to arrive, with our first paired drink ‘Orange You Glad To Be Here’ made with TOAD vodka, clementine, cranberry, rosemary and soda, which certainly raised the bar.
My favourite nibble was the feuille de brick pastry cone with beetroot puree, horseradish cream cheese and beet powder (made from the skins) which arrived like dainty Enid Blyton ices, that sweet/savoury tang of beet, crunch of cone and hit of horseradish, hitting the spot.
Ans while Georgia’s menus are succinct and unelaborate – a list of prime ingredients rather than a description of the dish itself – she introduces each one herself, so you don’t miss anything.
There were 11 dishes in all, so I’ll highlight our favourites: the stout and black treacle soda bread with whiskey butter and a stout reduction which you could dunk your bread into like Oliver in a culinary workhouse.
The Jerusalem artichoke ‘risotto’ (cooked choke cubes in choke puree) with pickled pear dice, crispy choke skin, hazelnut butter and roasted yeast powder was sublime. I could have eaten bowl fulls.
And the ‘burger’ freshly made brioche bun with brussel sprout bhaji, cranberry and cardamom chutney, brussel sprout slaw and tarragon mayo couldn’t have been more delicious or seasonal if it adorned red velvet breeches and sang Good King Winceslas. Genius! (see main pic)
The palate cleanser – a Thai green sorbet, which sounded savoury but a sweet take, incorporating the flavour (coriander, Thai basil and lemongrass) but adding puffed wild rice, a coconut and lemongrass foam, lime powder and crystallised nori. Curious, exciting and novel as always.
Another sweet.savoury incarnation was the pumpkin spiced puree with pumpkin seed and white chocolate praline, a pumpkin and white choc crumble, pumpkin seed ice cream and cinnamon meringue shard.
Our sweet-tooth was also rewarded with an indecently dense black garlic sticky toffee cake, dark chocolate cremeux, cocoa soil, black sesame ice cream, miso and espilette pepper caramel sauce with black sesame and cocoa tuile, which just about finished us off
A fait accompli then, all of us demonstrating a wonder and awe, gratitude, and respect for Georgia’s beautifully presented, artfully named, and carefully compiled menu.
So jump on the bandwagon, book a place in December, buy a gift voucher or meal for someone who will enjoy it, or even get down to the Summertown Wine Cafe on December 19 where Table 13 is presenting six small plates to go with six chosen wines for £40 a head. BOOK HERE
Either way, meat-eaters, veggies and vegans alike will be in awe, and who knows you might make some new friends along the way.
Table 13’s 11 course menu on Friday and Saturday nights with drink pairings (alcohol and non-alcoholic alike) or on Thursday nine courses is £99. Book at https://table13oxford.uk