There’s little else to do but fantasise about food at the moment, so instead of slobbering over our desks we thought we’d share our insights into Oxfordshire’s best dishes with you.
And with the end of the lockdown announced now is the time to get planning and booking! You’re welcome.
- The steak platter – Chester Arms, East Oxford, – infamous throughout Oxford, it’s no coincidence this is my number one entry, although they are in no apparent order! Hamzah’s most popular dish: butchers steak cooked rare or medium rare with béarnaise sauce, home-made chips, mixed leaf salad and cabbage and bacon is legendary. 01865 790438 or read our review here: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/review-the-last-supper-why-the-chester-arms-steak-platter-is-still-a-feast-fit-for-a-king/
2) Surf n’ Turf – No 1 Ship Street, Oxford – You deserve to go all out so either opt for the oysters and champagne or our favourite – the rib of beef, whole lobster, chips, truffle
3) Thali – Dosa Park, Oxford – yes the dosas are excellent here (the potato massala is a must) but the thalis are amazing and such good value. Glamour is replaced by authenticity here which is a thumbs up in our book.
4) Soufflé – hard to choose between Brasserie Blanc‘s trademark pistachio version dusted with icing sugar in Jericho, Kate Anderson’s twice baked cheese soufflé’s at The Boxing Hare in Swerford, Andrew Carr’s at the White Hart in Wytham (see main pic), or Liam Whittle’s varieties at The Greyhound in Letcombe Regis. All are superb so which ever once takes your fancy.
5) Brunch – Cafe Cocos, Cowley Road – so hard to choose between all my favourite dishes. Will it be the superb eggy bread, the waffles and maple syrup or the Arnold Bennett omelette with smoked haddock? The choice is yours. If not wait until lunchtime and have the greek or merguez pizza. You’ll thank me I promise. The new brunch at Gee’s in North Oxford is worth a visit too for an elegant and laid back experience.
6) Laksa – Banana Tree, Oxford – the best comfort food known to man and guaranteed to cheer you up. A perfect Asian infusion, filling and oh so moreish. Read our review here: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/review-why-ill-be-heading-back-to-banana-tree-on-george-street-as-soon-as-is-humanely-possible/
7) Steak frites – Gourdans, St Clements – says what it does on the tin – brilliantly. No frills and whistles, except a vintage Citreon van, put it this way, the French wouldn’t complain. Read our review here: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/review-gourdans-in-st-clements-has-opened-a-new-steak-restaurant-but-is-it-any-good-spoiler-alert-bravo/
8) Pizza – White Rabbit, Oxford – I’m such a fan you can find me there not weeks. I have my favourites, but always nick a bit of everyone else’s. Reliably good.
9) Arabbiatta – Brothertons, Woodstock – do a really good, hot, spicy plate of spaghetti, thanks to the Italians running the place.
10) Veggie/vegan burger, Dirty Bones, Westgate, Oxford. I actually got quite addicted to these for a while, despite having a healthy penchant for their meatier counterparts, because they are so realistic and utterly delicious. Oh and the scarmozza based mac n’ cheese is to die for.
11) Nachos – The Breakfast Club, Westgate – not on the menu during social distancing I await they return with bated breath. Genrous, spicy, and with all the right toppings, these are simply the best.
12) Entree– Pompette, Summertown– has an ever changing menu but the one thing guaranteed at the beginning of every meal is the Cervelles de Canut – a Lyonnaise fresh cheese & herb dip which is worth making the trip for alone.
13) Hot chicken wings – Spiced Roots, Cowley Road and Rickety Press, Jericho can fight over whose are the best, but in our eyes both blow your mind and your tongue. Well worth the heat.
14) Roast chicken Blackboy, Headington – sounds simple but their corn fed chicken quarter with chips and aioli is the bomb. Take out word for it!
15) Sunday roast Horseshoes, Witney – Those who read our review https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/review-to-beef-or-not-to-beef-why-the-roast-at-the-three-horseshoes-in-witney-is-a-must/will know how much we enjoyed it. Every accruement is taken care of, and veggies positively lauded over.
16) Apple salad – Oli’s Thai, Magdalen Road, East Oxford – it took days to choose a dish of their exceptional menu, but if I was put on a dessert island and had to choose one it would be this, or the aubergine curry. Put me anywhere actually with access to Oli’s Thai and I’d be happy.
17) Oeufs a la neige, otherwise known as Ile flottante – Pierre Victoire, Little Clarendon Street – it’s not always on the menu, (Saturday lunchtimes seem to be more likely), but if you glimpse this delicious French masterpiece, grab it with both hands. One of Raymond Blanc’s favourites too, this is creme anglaise with poached meringue floating in the middle and it is simply To DIE FOR when done well.
18) Kebab – Antep Kitchen – anyone who’s been will enjoy the hedonistic atmosphere and simple but authentic food. The kebabs here are the best, generous and meat-tastic. Plus there’s nowhere better to go for your birthday.
Or go for the sheer authenticity of their Mediterranean cousins at the Souvlaki Brothers in the Covered Market, Man food if I’ve ever seen it. You’ll be full up until Christmas.
19) Burger – Five Guys, Oxford – I know, I know. It’s a chain etc etc but it’s the go to for all the ardent carnivores in my family not because it’s quick and easy but because the burgers are damn good.
20) Tapas – Kaz Bar, Cowley Road – in particular the Patatas con Chorizo which have been haunting my dreams with their soft unctuous smokiness.
21) Portuguese tarts – Arbequina, Cowley Road – My oh my the best tarts this side of Lisbon (also served in Oli’s Thai) – so beautiful it’s a shame to eat them. Perfectly flakey and sumptuously thick with creamy vanilla custard. It’s hard to even tell you about them to be honest.
22) Butterscotch milkshake – Byron Burger, Oxford – it feels like it uses up an entire week’s calorie intake and requires several mornings of uncomfortable gym sessions to burn off, but this is worth every slick, thick, metallic, sweet glug on your straw. My daughter would never forgive me if I didn’t include Moo Moos in the Covered Market where you can choose your own flavour of every sweet confectionary known to man. The Turkish Delight is my downfall, hers the Daim.
23) Noodles, Pho, Westgate. Another haunting dream includes these bowls of steaming noodles submerged in this pungent, addictive heady concoction of Vietnamese herbs and broth known as pho. I’m so there.
24) Zahra Maklia Cinnamon Stick, Middle Barton – chef patron Khalid’s fried cauliflower with a tahini dressing is just one of the many starters I’ve been fantasising about. Best to order a whole heap of options and get stuck in. I will be.
25) Battered gherkins with mustard dip Hollybush, Witney. They’re not always on the menu, but when they are steam in and order a batch and sit down with a pint and whippet if you can find one. The extensive Scotch egg selection is pretty impressive too.
26) Sharing plates, Magdalen Arms, East Oxford, Book a table and order their wonderful communal food that you can plonk in the middle of the table and all enjoy, from game to roast and more. I’ve lost whole days doing just that.