As soon as No1 Ship Street in Oxford announced it was reopening I was there. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed it until I stepped back through its haloed doors into one of my favourite restaurants in Oxfordshire.
There it was, its flamboyant purple and green decor, sleek bar, impeccable service, that inherent atmosphere that heralds somewhere special, somewhere discreet, somewhere exciting.
The onus on fresh fish, oysters, shellfish, lobster, steak and offal continues unabated, interspersed by the occasional crowd pleaser such as the burger which comes with cheddar, onion, fries and truffle mayonnaise (£15).
What was even better, after being seated, was that having surveyed the tantalising menu, the specials board boasted an equally tempting set offering – two courses for £12.95, three for £16.95. Music to our ears.
It entailed salmon rillettes with toast and pickled cucumber, or goats cheese mousse with tomato and black olive to start. Then St Austell Bay mussels and french fries or the oyster mushroom and wild garlic linguine with a poached egg for mains. A Rectory Farm Eton mess concluded the offerings. Job done.
For one of us at least, because I wanted to try the summer vegetable soup, (pistou with a seed cracker), to see how delicate and cleansing it would taste. And then the spinach & Ticklemore filo tart, tomato, pepper and sesame, with its nod to a Greek Spanakopita, on the a la carte.
It was the week before the swanky new tables were placed outside, so we missed the al fresco dining options at Ship Street’s central location by a few days, but inside was equally as luxuriant.
A small wedding party arrived, which was so amazing to see, a reminder that life does go on, and what a perfect place to celebrate. And while they were quaffing champagne, our starters emerged. The salmon (see pic above) was clean and light, the perfect appetiser. The Rectory Farm asparagus with black olive crumb was a last minute addition much appreciated by all.
The pistou soup’s rustic simplicity delivered on all fronts, the dollhouse cubes of summer vegetables swimming in the clean, clear, refreshing broth.
Then the mussels in their Gaelic creamy sauce as wonderful as expected, but then the quality of the fish and shellfish here are always a given. Less expected was the delectable looking spinach & Ticklemore filo tart, unstinting on quantity, ingredients or taste – fresh and vibrant to behold.
Which left us little room for dessert, so we shared the crème brûlèe, not that it was a hardship. Soft and vanillary inside and tap-toppingly good, it was just the right finale to a wonderful meal.
Emerging into the sunshine afterwards, the world seemed a better place, especially after the set lunch bill, but then it always does where No1 Ship Street is concerned.
Book at https://www.no1shipstreet.com