THE OXFORD BLUE, Windsor

Fine Dining for Grown Ups

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Words Susie Smyth

 

The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail, and that’s certainly true of the chic and very welcome addition to Windsor’s foodie pub scene, The Oxford Blue in Crimp Hill.  

Chef Proprietor, Steven Ellis – ex Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Star Inn, North Yorkshire – and his partners Daniel Crump (General Manager) and Margriet Vandezande-Crump (Restaurant Manager and Sommelier) – both ex Petrus – opened the doors of this stylish pub restaurant on New Year’s Eve and it’s already become a popular venue within the local community.

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Lovingly restored and transformed into a strikingly stylish and relaxed venue, the decor combines both traditional and contemporary, with a definite nod to the bold and quirky; think plush orange banquette seating contrasting against indigo walls and a vast, double-sided central wood fire encased in thick, contemporary glass.   

Steven is renowned for creating exceptional, seasonal dishes that expertly blend traditional English fare with the sophistication of world class fine dining, with fresh meat and game sourced direct from the neighbouring Crown Estate.  The bar stocks a superb selection of beers, wines and spirits for those wishing to simply enjoy a drink or two in convivial surroundings. 

We chose English Bolney Bubbly Champagne and Windsor & Eton Brewery’s Guardsman ale to enjoy by the fire while perusing the menu and sharing a dish of the delectably meaty Venison Bonbons with a mustard dip.  Once seated at our table, we were each presented with a delicious parcel of freshly baked Cider Bread straight from the oven. 

Exquisite hand blown, Mark Thomas crystal glasses enhanced our appreciation of the fines wines Margriet expertly paired on request with each chosen dish.  For me, a refreshing Mosel Riesling to accompany my starter of Chicken Liver Parfait with Apple and Vanilla Chutney and home made Brioche (£9) – the dish was a wonderfully mouth-filling burst of flavour; light, sweet and utterly delicious.  Rory was encouraged to try Chef Steven’s signature dish, the Braised Suckling Pigs Trotter (£12) – an artfully deconstructed dish belying its origins, and a fabulously tasty, delicately presented masterpiece, alongside which Margriet paired a fruity Soli Bulgarian white. 

Next came a flavoursome dish of Scallops (£14) served in a foamy Sorrel Veloute on a bed of Baby Spinach and fragrant Lardo di Colonnata to share, accompanied by a luscious Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire which was an inspired combination.

 In preparation for his Sirloin of Beef (£32), Rory chose from a box of individual steak knives – another little detail that added to the personal experience.  He sliced with ease through the thick, evenly cooked Ale Braised Short Rib and Bone Marrow – perfectly paired with a creamy Horseradish Hollandaise and satisfying pile of Beef Fat Chips, alongside a glass of ultra smooth, full-bodied Viatge al Priorat, Joan Simo.  My Fisherman’s Stew (£24) was served with a flourish as waiter, Josh checked my preference before pouring the jug of smooth, richly flavoured Bouillabaisse sauce over a generous portion of perfectly cooked Cod, Mussels and Squid.

The utterly satisfying flavour combination was clean, fresh and robust – and beautifully complemented by a glass of fragrant Soli Pinot Noir. 

 

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On to the dessert menu, and I simply couldn’t resist the Chocolate (£8.50) option, and this one was satisfyingly faultless – a gorgeous, velvety Malted Mousse with Cocoa Nibs and a delicate Mascarpone Sorbet on the side.  Rory’s Oxford Blue’s Cambridge Burnt Cream (£8.50) was an equally velvety-smooth masterpiece topped with a delicately crisp caramel layer – perfectly complemented by the satisfying crunch of the accompanying freshly baked Rosemary Shortbread, and washed down with a glass of rich and dry Oloroso Solera 1842 VOS. 

Mint Tea sourced from Cornwall completed our meal – but there was one little surprise left to amuse us and tantalise our taste buds further.  A little wooden box and hammer were presented to us with a smile and, once opened, revealed a slab of freshly tempered dark chocolate studded with nuts, just calling to be smashed into bite sized pieces.  Just another in a host of charming touches that raises this pub restaurant up there with the best. 

 

 

TLB VERDICT: This passionate and knowledgeable young team works hard in a welcoming and relaxing environment to provide their guests with the very best in fine dining, wines, beers and spirits.  We found the food to be exceptional in presentation, flavour and inventiveness. We’ve no doubt The Oxford Blue is set to become a destination venue for discerning foodies from near and far. 

 

Bookings: 01753 861954

www.oxfordbluepub.co.uk 

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