While there are some great plant based restaurants and cafes popping up in Oxfordshire, few have a beer garden of The Perch’s calibre.
The historic pub in Binsey, although not totally vegetarian or vegan, has extensive menus for both and is really pulling out all the stops to ensure we are all catered for equally.
So when a brief window of sunshine appeared we raced down there to bask in the rays and try out their herbivorous menu.
The garden offering there is really stunning. On top of the beautiful conservatory/dining room overlooking the grounds, there are covered tables and chairs dotted about the garden ready for all weather eventualities. (see main pic)
We settled on the patio close to a heater and a huge brolly should we need it, and soaked up the atmosphere for a bit. All around us people met, chatted and reunited, as delighted as we were to be out.
it was the gingerbread pudding with stem ginger caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream which made us groan in delight
But soon the delicious food wafting past got the better of us and we dived into the menus.
Where the Perch differs is that it accommodates everyone. So for example if you want asparagus you can have the grilled English asparagus, chopped duck egg, tarragon & rapeseed oil mayo £9.45 (v) or for vegans the English asparagus & Jersey Royal Salad, samphire, radish & sorrel, rapeseed vinaigrette £7.95.
We had the former and it was excellent. Often pubs just chop the egg very finely and layer it on top but I always find it a bit dry and claggy. Here it was made into a wonderful egg mayonnaise, and as the asparagus is sourced locally and couldn’t have been fresher or more generous, it was an absolute corker of a dish.
We also sampled the spring pea, wild garlic, courgette soup and toasted almonds (with or without goats cheese) to warm us up which had a beautiful depth of colour and taste.
The cheese and onion tart tasted like French onion soup in a pie
Next up was more of an experiment. I know from experience that the Perch vegan cheeseburger is amazing, but was persuaded instead to try the beer braised onion and cheddar tart, salt baked celeriac and horseradish remoulade (£13.95) instead, as recommended by my friend who is a Perch regular.
It tasted like French onion soup in a pie, the soft, rich, strong, dark flavours taking me straight back to a time when you could visit alpine mountain cafes and eat soupe à l’oignon gratinée out of a copper pan. The pastry was as ballsy but I’d have liked more seasoning and flavour in my remoulade.
The vegan spinach, pea and mint cakes (£13.95) came with beetroot relish and watercress (with optional country goats curd for veggies), which was seasonal, local and experimental, which we like.
But it was the dessert which did it for us – I couldn’t even tell the difference when biting into my delectable dark chocolate vegan tart with hazelnut praline and raspberries it was so tantalising.
As for the gingerbread pudding from the main menu with stem ginger caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream it had us groaning in delight. Light, zingy, spongy – all the good things in life rolled into one – and a nice change from the more standard treacle toffee pudding favoured on menus everywhere. The puds were worth the trip alone.
And as we reclined, replete with a coffee afterwards, watching the walkers arrive from Port Meadow, the world was already a better place.
The Perch does socially distanced dining so expertly you can scarcely tell the difference. And you can take anyone there – children, lovers, parents, families, anyone and everyone – come rain or shine.
The Perch, Binsey, Oxford. https://the-perch.co.uk