Friday, 13 April 2012

Year one: Top picks

Of the 40 or so restaurants, cafes and pubs I've visited over the past year, a few stand out. Whether it be for the quality of the food, the setting or the service, I've definitely developed a few favourites.

While many of my top picks after six months hold firm (particularly for vegetarian dining), the second half of my mission opened my eyes to some new contenders.

Best meal: One of my most memorable experiences was at supper club The Ball Green Door, the only place to scoop a perfect 10 score. Everything was spot on; from the welcome to the post-dinner coffee with hand-made chocolates, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The food was excellent, and even more impressive for being home-made rather than produced in a full-scale restaurant kitchen. Unfortunately for the people of Oxford, The Ball Green Door is currently on hiatus, so my runners up are The Rickety Press and Brasserie Blanc.

Best occasion dining: With a smart setting, excellent service and great food, Brasserie Blanc is another star in this category. The value its set menus offers means that it's fairly friendly on the pocket, too. The Ashmolean Dining Room certainly has an incomparable venue, but I wish its menu would change a little more often and that specials were on offer. For a one-off treat with the glamour factor, it's still got what it takes though.

Best pub: It's still got to be The Rickety Press for me!

Best cafe: So popular it's a challenge to get a table on weekend mornings, Oxfork is the city's most talked-about cafe with good reason. The food's a cut above usual offerings: a full English here is no greasy spoon affair, but a locally-sourced, lovingly-prepared treat. The quirky setting helps, but I find friendly but erratic the best way to describe the service. Skip brunch if you want a more relaxing experience and come here for coffee and homemade cake instead. I'm also a big fan of the cute pop-up cafes at East Oxford Farmers' Market, including The Moving Teashop.

Best budget: Red Star wins for me hands down. If I ever want something cheap, filling and quick, this is where I go. No frills, but then you don't pay for them either.

Best service: Looking back over the past year, La Cucina stands out for me. Our waitress was helpful and polite yet friendly without being informal: perfect. She made sure to talk us through the specials, and was happy to explain a couple of menu items to our group.

So, there you have my latest batch of top picks. Let's see what year two brings...

1 comment:

  1. Glad the Rickety Press made it in to 2 categories. We love it too.
    Must try Oxfork !


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