French Restaurants in Oxfordshire
1. Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons French restaurant in Great Milton Church Road - OX44
“Any visit must include a walk through the gardens” when you visit Raymond Blanc’s “enchanting” converted Elizabethan manor, and “from the moment you arrive you are hit by the peace and tranquility of the whole enterprise”. “From beginning to end, the attention to detail is exceptional”: “nothing is left out, nothing is too much trouble” and staff “make you feel very, very special; not in a cloying way but through sheer politesse” (“exceptional service that includes attention to young children”). On the vast majority of accounts, it’s “a breathtaking, out-of-this-world gastronomic extravaganza” too, with “exquisite food (with no hint of overambitious ideas or overloading of ingredients), whose preparation is exact and whose plating is very graceful”. Where reservations are expressed, the issue is usually either the absence of a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ (“the food was beautiful and delicious, courses flowed perfectly, but they didn’t wow”); or “the need to chat with your friendly bank manager before you open the wine list”. On most accounts, though, the equation stacks up beautifully: “this was a one-off bucket-list visit, but worth it despite the vast expense”.
2. The Crooked Billet British, Modern restaurant in Stoke Row Newlands Ln - RG9
“Wonderful out-of-the-way” gastropub “down the end of a winding lane” and with “an amazing indoors with a dining room plastered with intriguing old photos”, which still “sets standards others struggle to meet” (listen up pop pickers, it’s owned by ex-Sweet and John Otway rock guitarist Paul Clerehugh, who set up here in 1989). “Never had a bad meal, course or service: it always delivers with taste, charm and pizzazz”. “A handwritten daily changing menu is always a joy to hold – other pretenders take note”.
3. Pierre Victoire French restaurant in Oxford Little Clarendon St - OX1
“No-nonsense French cuisine, done well” ensures that this city-centre bistro is “always busy”; and with its “small scuffed tables and chairs packed close together” somehow it “manages to feel intimate, while being crowded and buzzing”. Open for more than 20 years, it’s a survivor from a franchised 90s chain that went belly-up. “Absolutely love it here, the prices are amazing for delicious, classic food”.
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Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons
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The Crooked Billet
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