I sometimes feel sorry for restaurants. Sometimes the pressure of the occasion makes their job incredibly difficult. Imagine combining large groups of diners who all want an impossibly perfect meal on just one lunchtime. That’s Mothers’ Day.
I booked a table for three at Witney Lakes Resort so that we could visit my daughter in Oxford and celebrate Mothers’ Day at the same time. By the time I’d booked the only available time was 12 o’clock. They obviously take some care in staggering dining times to minimise the risk of mistakes…I like that.
I didn’t know what to expect. It sounds rather grand but the sat nav for the golf course initially took me down into an industrial estate cul de sac. Thankfully it was near enough and there was a sign nearby to direct me into the next road. The Resort is obviously fairly new. The golf course holes are flanked by fairly new trees (by the clubhouse at least). The restaurant is clearly signposted and inside is a really nice, light space. We were given a great table by the window overlooking an outside seating area and a lake.
Service throughout was excellent. The girl who showed us to our table advised is that we were going to be served by Connor and he duly arrived. The menu offered four choices on each course of a three course set menu for £23. I don’t know if this is the same arrangement every weekend but I think that’s a pretty good deal.
For starters we chose a spinach, nutmeg and walnut soup and a ginger millefeuille of pear and goats cheese. This is bold food making bold promises. The soup was a fantastic rich green colour and was very well seasoned. There was a very generous bowl of it too. The millefeuille was a deconstructed version of what I was expecting. With these ingredients the balance of flavours is crucial and often the pear is the weakest link. This was a good effort. My only criticism was that the ginger ‘biscuits’ were too thick to easily eat in any way but by picking them up. The goats cheese was lightly whipped and served in quenelles and the pear had a good flavour. A great start.
We had the Oxfordshire sirloin steak and some fish pie for the main course. The steak was cooked perfectly and well seasoned. It was served with a well-cooked roast tomato and a mushroom which were all good. It was served with a tidy portion of some decent crunchy chips. The fish pie was OK but not exceptional. It had a decent amount of fish, especially salmon, in a creamy sauce and topped with mashed potato. The only problem was that menu offered a poached egg with it and there was no poached egg. Connor checked with the kitchen and two perfectly cooked poached eggs arrived on individual spoons within a couple of minutes. The side vegetables included roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots and kale.
Desserts included the two that we chose – vanilla cheesecake with rhubarb and chocolate bread and butter pudding plus cheese and biscuits and ice cream. The vanilla cheesecake was really very good. A nice slice of cheesecake with two fingers of pink rhubarb on top and two cubes of rhubarb (?) jelly. What I liked about this was that it wasn’t too sweet and the tart rhubarb, jelly and jus went well with the creamy vanilla. The chocolate bread and butter pudding was quite soft and so it looked a bit of a mess on the plate. It was pronounced very tasty – especially with the amaretto syrup.
The good, attentive service meant goodwill was maintained throughout – it served its purpose for Mother’s Day well. The food was great value for £23. It would be interesting to come for an evening meal here because the ambition is clearly there. I felt that what we had was interesting without over-stretching the kitchen. Portions were reasonable but we didn’t walk away feeling overly full. I liked the way they incorporated local ingredients too.