On a bitter winter’s day, pushing open the ancient wooden door of The Old Parsonage, and being embraced by its warm, enticing interior, is about as good as it gets.
Still managing to combine that rarefied, stylish, elegant atmosphere with some really excellent food, it’s the perfect place for a reunion lunch and catch up. But beware of its spell!
“The Parsonage Grill is always a treat”
Because, as is always the case at the Parsonage Grill, time just runs away with you; the wonderful service, food and wine working its magic.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, because when we arrived, we were met by a thriving dining room, full of eclectic, erudite and appreciative diners, The Parsonage Grill being their go-to Oxford restaurant.
“The Parsonage Grill casts a refined spell on you from the word go, and suitably bewitched, it’s hard to relinquish its hold”
The people-watching is as enthralling as the menus, diners sat beneath the wonderful breadth of art that characterises all of Jeremy Mogford’s restaurants and hotels (Quod, The Old Bank and Gee’s making up his portfolio), the velvet seating, roaring fires, tinkling of glasses behind the bar, and seamless waiting staff, all colluding to make it a lunch to remember.
But if there’s one word to sum up The Parsonage Grill it’s consistency, which might sound banal, but for repeat visits, essential.
‘If there’s one word to sum up The Parsonage Grill it’s consistency’
We began with a glass of bubbles to celebrate, why not eh? In for a penny in for a pound. And then kicked off with some classics; the pear, stilton, chicory & watercress salad (£10.50) and the twice-baked goat’s cheese and thyme soufflé (£10.95). The salad was crisp, the pear juicy, the cheese strong but not overwhelming, a dainty appetiser.
And who can go wrong with a soufflé? Not the Old Parsonage. Soft and fluffy with just the right strength of cheese, again it wasn’t too filling.
Then the fish, an innately refined dish of fillet of seabass, roasted fennel, winter chard, mussels & seaweed sauce (£29.50), the beautifully cooked seabass balanced neatly on the seasonal veg, the sauce dappled with herbs.
“if you’d like to escape somewhere rarefied for a lunch, dinner, or in our case a lost afternoon, then you know where to book!”
As for the ruby beetroot wellington, carrots, greens & horseradish sauce (£24) could there be a more seasonal dish? The pastry was crisp and firm, the beetroot well cooked, the accompanying vegetables suitable for a roast, the only anomaly was the lack of gravy to bring it all together. We asked for some and it arrived just in time to drench the plate.
Dessert? Well obviously the creme brûlée (£9) and a smart slice of clementine cheesecake with clementine sorbet (£10.50), the citrus cutting through the sweetness perfectly.
We shared an incredible bottle of red – a 2020 organic Picnic pinot noir by Two Paddocks – and caught up properly before glancing out of the window and realising it was dark. Where had the time gone?
But that’s the thing about The Parsonage Grill; it casts a refined spell on you from the word go, and suitably bewitched, it’s hard to relinquish its hold.
So if you’d like to escape somewhere rarefied for a lunch, dinner, stay, or in our case a lost afternoon, then you know where to book, because The Parsonage Grill is always a treat. And while the menu has subtly changed since we visited over the festive season, all the classics are still there.
The Parsonage Grill, The Old Parsonage, Banbury Road, Oxford. https://www.parsonagegrill.co.uk