We have all tightened the purse strings in January – the excesses of Christmas reflected in our bank balances. Which means that now is the time to seek out a bargain.
And with No 1 Ship Street offering an incredibly good value set lunch menu (£16.50 for two courses or £21.50 for three) – it was our first port of call.
Because not only is the Oxford restaurant one of the best in the city centre, but you get to enjoy its full experience at a price that doesn’t break the bank.
Particularly enticing at this time of year; its warming, stylish interior was buzzing when we arrived on Friday lunchtime, and we were lucky to get a table. Not bad for a cold, bleak January!
And once we’d sat down, checked out the specials board, joked with the staff, had our coats and bags stored away, and perused the menu, we could see why.
It was good to be back, and although owner Ross Drummond has now got a second site The Chequers in Fingest READ ABOUT IT HERE and races between the two, his absence did not deter from our experience, his friendly, professional staff ensuring all our needs were met with a smile, providing a level of service that’s hard to beat.
Owen Little is also still heading up the kitchens, I glimpsed him as we left, which also meant that the food was as memorable as ever. So while some diners were going full throttle with the house specialities; moules, lobster, coq au vin, the infamous surf & turf and other delicacies, we were hellbent on the set menu.
Soup to start – a saffron and roast pumpkin concoction – which I expected to be fairly plain and wholesome, yet managed a depth of flavour and piquancy that wowed us all. Almost fruity, it was rich with coriander and spices, and accompanied by a salted bread and delicious butter that had us in raptures. Not a drop was left, we wolfed down the lot.
Ditto the radicchio and blue cheese risotto, often an easy option, yet once again we were wrong-footed. Purple in colour thanks to the red of the radicchio leaves, generous cubes of cheese dotted throughout, a sprinkling of herbs and a liberal scattering of hazelnuts, it was delectable, if filling.
Soft and creamy, the rice cooked just so, the punch of the cheese, the crunch of the nut – it took the humble risotto to a whole new level.
Our student diner opted for the burger from the main menu (£19) – which of course at No 1 Ship Street is no ordinary burger, but packed full of bacon, raclette, burger sauce, gherkins, onions and tomato, the huge home-made generous patty nicely red in the middle, the cheese sauce oozing down the sides, the accompanying fries, thin, crispy, salty, hot – everything you want from a burger and more. We were in heaven.
Dessert from the set menu was a white chocolate mousse with shortbread and rhubarb, and perhaps more haphazard than the previous two courses, but delicious none-the-less, the shortbread broken and scattered, the mousse more of an ice cream, the rhubarb sparing.
All-in-all then, our lunch was a huge success which cost us around £20 a head! A special mention must go to assistant GM Bogdan, who looked after us so personally, a great attribute to an already superb team.
All of which ensured that No 1 Ship Street is staying right up there at the top of my go-to, favourite Oxford restaurants. We are lucky to have it.
No 1 Ship Street, Oxford. https://www.no1shipstreet.com