Read official reviews from Living In Oxford Magazine below.
From 1855 Oxfordon
Visiting on a sunny weekend, Oxford’s attractive castle complex was buzzing with people sitting outside and making the most of the sunshine, as well as enjoying a food festival which had several stalls of tempting treats – but we were heading to the equally tempting 1855.
1855 was named after the year France classified the most prestigious chateaux in the Bordeaux wine region, and this lovely wine bar offers an impressive variety of vintages from all over the world. They also serve up some irresistible food to go with it, with a classy menu featuring seasonal and locally-sourced produce as well as French, Italian and Spanish classics – and as with the wine, the food is chosen carefully for its taste and its provenance, working in close collaboration with producers – and it shows.
The wide range of charcuterie and cheese options are beautifully presented and taste as good as they look, and we also enjoyed one of the best pork pies we’d ever had, alongside a mouth-watering mezze platter piled high with bruschetta topped with red pepper and capers, as well as creamy Windrush goat’s cheese (a local cheese), a variety of biscuits and oatcakes, a salad of rocket and parmesan, and juicy olives and grapes. One of my favourite cheeses – Reblochon, a French staple – also didn’t disappoint.
For dessert, a gooey chocolate brownie and a tangy orange cake certainly hit the spot and didn’t last long, and choosing from the extensive wine list (which is like a book), we tried a French white wine and an Italian sparkling wine to wash it all down with – and we couldn’t resist taking a bottle of French red home with us.
For a brunch, lunch or dinner at the weekend, or at any time of the week, 1855 is a fantastic option. Bag a table on the lovely terrace in the sun (or enjoy the cosy candlelit interior if it’s not so sunny), and linger over the beautiful food and the wide range of wines, served by attentive and knowledgeable staff whose passion for the finer things in life is evident.
From Punting at The Cherwell Boathouseon
Need to get out and mess about on the water? Cherwell Boathouse is the perfect choice to get away – try punting and soak in the nature on the River Cherwell.
The rarely seen English summer was on our side as I spent one sunny Sunday morning on the water with two of my friends. The lovely Cherwell Boathouse was a great location for taking a break from the crowded city and for having a wonderful time together. Well, for the one friend who did the punting it was quite exhausting at first but after some practising, everyone on our punt was relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed this very ‘English’ experience.
You can hire a punt for a maximum of 6 people (age 16+) on weekdays for £16 an hour, £80 for a full day, or at the weekend for £18 an hour or £90 for a full day. You then get your punt, a metal pole, some cushions for the boat and a paddle…just in case!
At the beginning of our trip we received a briefing to familiarise us with the punting technique. This was rather an essential briefing for us! We had no idea how to punt being from Germany! Stefan soon got the hand of punting and didn’t even come close to falling in…a little disappointing to be honest! It helped that he is something of a giant but don’t let that put you off – punting can be accomplished by all shapes and sizes. I didn’t realise punting was so popular and it’s a definite ‘must do’ when visiting Oxford!
Because the punts are allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis, if it’s a sunny day I highly recommend you get to the Boathouse early, as we did. When we arrived back, after about two hours, the place was packed. We went past University Parks down to The Grove near to Magdalen College.
After punting you can build up quite an appetite (apparently!) so why not book a table at the superb Cherwell Boathouse restaurant….the perfect location to unwind even more after your punting experience.
Thank you Cherwell Boathouse for a great experience and a perfect day, we really enjoyed it!
Oxford offers a choice of venues where you can sip a cocktail – from hotels to restaurants and clubs to bars. The challenge is to be something special, and Angels succeeds with a menu of vintage classics and modern creations served with the glamour of the silver screen.
Located on trendy Little Clarendon Street, a short walk from the city centre, Angels immediately feels a bit different. As you step in you are greeted by a member of staff on the door and Bette Davies, Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo on the walls, while the polished red bar and gilt-framed mirrors give a sense of timeless glamour.
When a space is comfortable with itself, it is easy to relax within it. This was evident from the range of people there at 6pm on a Saturday with younger and older couples on dates or having pre-dinner drinks and groups of friends of all ages meeting and laughing. The bar had a great feel to it, friendly and relaxed with everyone there to enjoy the moment.
The cocktail menu is not overly-long, but is guaranteed to have something different and the staff are great at giving advice! There are the classics that you’ll recognize (Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Daiquiris and Sours), but alongside them are Vintage cocktails and Angels Lab.
The Vintage section offers cocktails rediscovered from old books or films, like the Yokohama Romance from the Romance nightclub in Japan where brandy, cherry brandy, lime and passion fruit are combined in a martini glass to create a rich fruity concoction, or the more delicate than expected Corpse Reviver of gin, Cointreau, vermouth, lemon and absinthe.
The Angels Lab showcases the mixing skills of the bar team who love creating new drinks for customers and adding them to their repertoire and, for the most popular, to the menu. New favourites include the Pear and Cardamom sidecar – muddled cardamom seeds shaken with Xante pear brandy, Cointreau and lemon giving a subtly spiced cocktail with an exotic undertone – and the now famous Tiramisu, which tastes like the dessert in a glass with layers of espresso, Kahlua and Mozart white & dark chocolate liqueurs.
In addition to serving drinks Angels offers afternoon classes in how to make them, and a venue you can hire for private parties. For Angels it is all about the customer enjoying themselves, and that means they are flexible, creative, friendly, and well worth visiting!
From Acanthus Macdonald Randolph Hotelon
Well it’s been over a year in the making but it’s been worth the wait. The fabulous new Acanthus Restaurant is now open for all to enjoy and we couldn’t fail to do just that when we visited just after the finishing touches had been put to this stunning restaurant in the heart of Oxford.
Following last year’s fire, MacDonald Randolph Hotel has been working around the inconvenience of scaffolding, road barriers, a covered entrance and more. General Manager Michael Grange and his team have worked tirelessly to keep the hotel firing on all cylinders, no mean feat when you consider this is a five star hotel, Oxford’s only one, with five star guests expecting five star treatment.
There are sure to have been a few bumps and bruises along the way but at the end of what must have been a gruelling road for the team, the new Acanthus Restaurant has been born and it should go down a storm.
The interior is strong and confident, with huge windows overlooking the Ashmolean Museum and also a new seating area including a Chef’s Table looking into the industrious kitchen. It’s a brand spanking new kitchen too, with chefs moving from station to station with a spring in every step….no doubt a new kitchen with the latest gizmos must be like Christmas every day to the kitchen brigade!
The food is stunning too (see below) so make sure you visit soon. Acanthus has taken the contemporary yet classic British cuisine route with the highest quality ingredients including superb Scottish beef, British lamb and pork.
STARTERS | Pressed ham hock & parsley terrine pickled vegetables, white wine jelly & toasted brioche | John Ross Jr. smoked salmon with saffron aioli, radish & pumpernickel crumb
MAINS | Slow poached cod fillet with tarragon butter crumb, creamed leeks & sautéed potatoes | Rump of highland lamb with black olive & red pepper stew, confit potato & Goats cheese bonbon
SIDE ORDERS | Mixed dressed leaves | Triple cooked chips
DESSERTS | Plum & almond tart with crème anglaise | Lemon tart with raspberry coulis with blackberry ripple ice cream
From Cherwell Boathouseon
Time stands still in the twilight of an April evening as we snake through North Oxford, heading towards the Cherwell Boathouse. The streets are deserted with the fee paying school community being en vacances and very probably entre la neige and le ciel. Tucked into the armpit of the Dragon School is a tiny little lane leading to arguably the city’s best restaurant, or certainly one of the most famous and definitely one of only a very few establishments competing in the arena of ‘fine dining’.
The Cherwell Boathouse was founded in 1904 by a man called Thomas Tims. He built a punt hire business, a large house and he had a boat building yard at Long Isis. Today the Boathouse is thriving with the main restaurant, several event spaces, plenty of punts to hire, and a seasonal Teahut bar open from mid-April to mid-September offering a lower price point and more immediate and accessible fayre for those who have come to punt and not necessarily to dine.
We park on Chadlington Road and the silence of the neighbourhood shatters upon opening the restaurant door, as if we have stumbled upon a secret club. On an ignominious Wednesday evening the place is buzzing with full tables and urgent laughter and a sense that we are late to the party. The atmosphere works and creates the mood – nobody wants a silent restaurant.
Without thinking very hard we find ourselves ordering from the Spring Menu which offers 2 courses for £22 and 3 courses for £27.75. We were the last table to order and my starter of red pepper and plum tomato mousse disappears in seconds. My friend enjoyed the cornish crab and chive risotto, using adjectives like ‘delicate’ and ‘fragrant’ with a sincerity that I had to admire.
We order the beef and the cod as main courses. The beef is locally reared and that is compelling when ordering, geographic provenance being a modern trend. The shiitake mushroom and Madeira jus add a sweet glaze to the proceedings – the portions are generous and this is a winner. The pan fried fillet of cod is cooked to perfection.
Puddings are essential and the bitter chocolate tart complements the evening as a round of ‘Happy Birthday to you’ comes from across the room. Gilded North Oxford sleeps serene as we leave, oblivious to the passing of yet another successful, lovely evening at the Cherwell Boathouse.