The Oakley Court in Windsor - restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 15:42 04 January 2016 | UPDATED: 15:38 07 November 2017
And for our next trick… Jan Raycroft and Maureen McLean discover more than a little magic during a visit to this splendid country house hotel
At Oakley Court Hotel head chef Damian Broom and his team insist that serving good food shouldn’t be a fussy affair, but we all like the right type of fuss, and this is dished up alongside some extraordinary tastes.
For instance, you are just coming to terms with the incredible explosion of flavours provided by the fifth of seven courses on the tasting menu – during our visit it was Oxford Blue cheese with Oakley honeycomb – when staff respond to your queries about this magic mix with a display of near performance art.
They return to the table in the Dining Room to virtually parade a beautiful natural honeycomb behind glass. It’s not showing off, and they are simply genuinely pleased in your interest in the dish, but it deserves something of a fanfare all the same, and three cheers for the Oakley Court bees, may they feast on lavender for many years to come.
A performance needs timing and it has to be said that if you go for the splendid tasting menu, allow ‘the acts’ to take anything up to three hours. Even so, dishes and intervals seem perfectly timed, you chat about the intricacies or boldness of a particular course, have a few minutes to investigate some equally unusual but very well-matched wines, and, without the clash of cymbals some dishes deserve, another intriguing course arrives to be proudly described by staff (when they place it on a little trestle table across from yours for this introduction you start to think ‘magician’).
We were impressed that Damian and the behind the scenes team coped with my ‘Awkward Annie’ approach of gluten-free plus only fish, not full-blooded meat, so that dishes at least comparable (I thought better than, of course!) to those doing the ‘full Monty’ arrived. Many of the adjustments are cleverly done and very minimal.
Check on review websites and you will see numerous records of Oakley Court delighting such diners. Just play fair and let them know in advance so they can adjust the magic tricks.
A word on the wine flight before we pick a couple of favourites courses, the drinks really do dovetail with the dishes. If a course merits a silky white or earthy red then that’s exactly what it gets, and even a worldwide connoisseur will be asking for the names on the bottles of several offerings.
As for the dishes, particularly stunning in our opinion was cepes and girolles with sweet and nutty celeriac; plus cod with parsley and baked potato. The parsley is not allowed to overpower, and it’s the same story in a dish using cumin. Much of this fare comes from the hotel’s kitchen garden, hand-picked local produce or renowned suppliers across our region.
Eating in The Dining Room is a grown up affair (no under 12s), with dinner served from 6.30pm Wednesday to Saturday. A three course market menu comes in at £38, while the seven-course tasting extravaganza is £65, with the wine flight at £60, so this is special occasion dining. It’s actually more like nine little courses, with treats coming at either end of the menu.
However, Oakley Court doesn’t stand on ceremony and meals in The Scullery are a far more relaxed affair, serving breakfast, dinner (including delicious dessert delights and a children’s menu) all week.
Oakley Court, Windsor Road, Water Oakley, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 5UR; 01753 609988; www.oakleycourt.co.uk