Old Windsor Charm At The Oxford Blue
According to popular theory, time passes more quickly once you stop experiencing new things. As a child, you have a million new experiences every day. As an adult, such experiences become diminished. I always make a constant effort to live more like a child and go out of my comfort zone – take the road less travelled (or just a new route home), do something courageous, or, a much simpler one, eat and drink things I’ve never tasted before. This last weekend I combined a whole bunch of new things – new places, new roads, and new food – and ventured out to The Oxford Blue in Old Windsor, just about two hours – by public transport – out of London.
The Oxford Blue is situated on a long and winding road that takes you out of the little town of Old Windsor and leads you to the countryside. As I’d never been to this area before, my friend (and photographer) Kassandra and I decided to walk all the way from Windsor to Old Windsor to really get a feel for the area. And apart from the cars around and GPS leading the way, it felt like we could have easily travelled back in time, two young maidens strolling around, looking forward to a delicious lunch at the end of the road.
Welcome To The Oxford Blue
From the outside, The Oxford Blue has a classic look – a terrace that stretches the front of the building, and the building itself painted in classic tones of white and blue. The interior darkens a bit, with wood finishings, dark furniture, and royal blue walls. It’s classic, it’s elegant, and it’s absolutely beautiful. We took a walk around the property as well and explored the luxurious bathrooms, the upstairs private dining area and wine room, the outside drinks terrace, and the herb, vegetable, and fruit tree gardens. The kitchen at The Oxford Blue tries to use as much produce from the garden as possible, which is something I absolutely love.
Bread & Butter
After our tour – and indeed after our one-hour walk from Windsor – it was time to settle in and get to the real reason we were there: the food. The menu at The Oxford Blue is divine, combining some classic British meals with some more unusual items, and you can choose from their a la carte menu or, on specific days, their set lunch menus. I’m terrible at decision-making and wanted to try all the new and unusual things, so we asked Dan, who runs The Oxford Blue and is the best host you could possibly imagine, to choose dishes and surprise us!
Each table gets to enjoy welcoming cider bread with home-churned butter, as well as petite venison bon bons. Kassandra doesn’t eat dairy, so she enjoyed her bread with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but I was pretty happy munching away at the butter. Honestly, one of the best butters I’ve ever tasted – smooth and super creamy! The bread itself was wonderful as well – we had spotted it freshly baked in the kitchen a mere half hour before!
Act One: A Good Place To Start
From there, we moved on to our starters. Kassandra had the Potato Risotto with Cauliflower and Lovage (£12; usually served with cheddar as well, but obviously this one was dairy-free), which she absolutely loved – a dish both beautiful in presentation and full of flavour. It was paired with the Clos Saint Michel 2015 Châteauneuf du Pape from Germany.
I had the Braised Suckling Pigs Trotter with Black Pudding, Apple and Sauce Gribiche (£16). To be honest, I had looked at this dish on the menu before and thought this would probably be the one I ought to try but definitely won’t coz it’s just too unusual for me. But boy am I glad I tried it! This was divine. The pigs trotter was beautifully done, and while mentally I’m having a challenge with what it is that I was eating, taste-wise it was exquisite and I’d have it again in a heartbeat. But probably only at The Oxford Blue.
The apple was beautifully crisp and sweet, expertly breaking through the fattiness of the pork. And the Black Pudding was served in bon-bon-form with a fried quail egg, which offered some salty relief from the fatty pork as well. The dish was served with the Riesling Richard Bocking Mosel 2016 from Germany, a real winner of a wine.
Act Two: Flavour Explosions With The Mains
With taste buds exploding from flavour happiness and the ‘trying new things’ box definitely ticked, we moved on to mains. Kassandra was presented with the Curried Monkfish with Squid, Couscous and Baba Ganoush (£27), paired with the Sancerre Rouge 2014 Hubert Brochard from Loire. She loved the dish and found it had the perfect amount of ‘curry’ flavour without being overwhelming.
I was presented with the Windsor Great Park Red Deer with Braised Shoulder Croquette, Figs, and Chicory Tart (£29), paired with the Bruno Murciano L’Algeria Bobal Cepas Viejas Arcilla 2015. I don’t know how they could have possibly known that I am more meat-inclined whereas Kassandra is more fish-inclined, but The Oxford Blue got their food choice perfect!
It seems that attention to detail is definitely something that The Oxford Blue does very, very well. For example, when they set the table for mains, Dan placed Kassandra’s cutlery the “wrong” way around – coz he had noticed that she ate her starters that way! I was sitting next to her and I didn’t even notice, and Kassandra and I were both thoroughly impressed!
But I digress: My mains. Lovely. I’m a huge venison fan. Obviously, coz I’m from Namibia and literally grew up on a diet of springbok and kudu. I’ve had deer before – but it’s been a long time – and I certainly couldn’t have asked for a better way to enjoy it in 2018 than at The Oxford Blue. The wine pairing was lovely too – they all were! And they got even better as we headed on to dessert …
Act Three: The Sweet Treats
Because Kassandra can’t eat diary, The Oxford Blue made a special dessert for her: berry sorbet with fresh berries, paired with the 2017 Brachetto D’Acqui from Italy. She loved the dessert – nice and fruity – and was particularly fond of the wine pairing as it really brought out the flavours of the berries while lessening the sweetness.
I had the opposite effect with my dessert and wine pairing. My dessert was the Lemon Parfait, with Burnt Meringue, Lemon Balm, and Stem Ginger Ice Cream (£10), paired with the 2017 Framingham Noble Riesling from New Zealand. The dessert was quite sour – and everyone who reads my reviews regularly will know that this is the way I like it – but the wine added that perfect touch of sweetness to complete the dessert course and leave me with the perfect ending to a perfect meal.
I’ll add in another corny ‘but wait, there’s more’ … Because we thought we were done, but actually finished off the whole dining experience with a lovely chocolate brittle (complete with hammer so we could break it up) and two cappuccinos. I don’t know if I enjoyed hammering my chocolate piece more than I enjoyed eating it or vice versa, but it brought out the child in me once again (see intro) and I was as happy as could be.
The Oxford Blue Sirens Call
We certainly didn’t want to leave The Oxford Blue. I guess good places have that effect on people. They welcome you in with their charm and hospitality and mesmerising food, like Sirens calling to the hungry. But, unlike Sirens, they do let you go and it’s you that will be wanting to go back another day to re-experience a little piece of magic. Ultimately, that’s what dining at The Oxford Blue is – magical – and I can only hope to experience it again. But until I venture out to Old Windsor on another day, I hope that you will experience it for me next you find yourself wanting a culinary adventure that will blow your mind!
Visit The Oxford Blue
For more about The Oxford Blue and links to their social profiles, see below. To view the full menu(s), click here.
The Oxford Blue
Address: 10 Crimp Hill, Old Windsor, Berkshire SL4 2QY
Opening Times: Lunch (Wednesday – Saturday: 12:00 – 14:15 / Sunday: 12:00 – 17:00, Dinner (Wednesday & Thursday: 18:30 – 21:30 / Friday & Saturday: 18:30 – 22:00)
Call: +44 1753 861954
Article Date: October 2018
MISSED OUR LAST ARTICLE? IT EXPLORES THE ROBERTSON WINE VALLEY IN SOUTH AFRICA.
All information correct at time of publication. We do not accept any liability caused by errors, including, but not limited to, changes in price, menu, opening times, address, or other contact details.