I’ve been determined to flee the claustrophobia of working from house lately. Final week, it was a day journey to the Isle of Wight for moderately priced seafood at The Hut. This week, it’s posh pub grub in a sleepy Surrey suburb. The Victoria in Oxshott really has loads in frequent with The Hut: at first, it looks like simply one other ostentatious vacation spot restaurant, this time in a really British village the place the typical home value is a minimum of £2m. It additionally takes simply as lengthy to drive to Surrey from the northernmost finish of the Piccadilly line because it does to take a practice to Southampton and cross the Solent. However, like The Hut, my snobbery seems to be at the very least a little bit misplaced. A Sunday street journey out of London, my boyfriend and 10-month-old pet in tow, for a spot of lunch and a countryside stroll is simply the panacea for soul-sapping metropolis life.
The actual fact is, The Victoria is kind of beautiful. This has as a lot to do with the locale, charming workers and balmy climate on the day, because it does the meals, which is seasonal, native and all these good issues. Taking a stroll round Oxshott is a bit like nonchalantly flipping by way of a mansion catalogue for the absurdly rich – I gained’t embarrass myself by trying to call a single footballer however a good few of them have apparently arrange store right here, as has the Crown Property. Any impending imposter syndrome shortly abates as soon as we arrive, although. The workers are welcoming and pleasant – greater than you’d anticipate for someplace that was actually dubbed the “costliest village in England” – and escort us to a quiet nook the place we sit and quietly watch the Oxshott elite go about their Sundays just like the well-behaved riff raff that we’re, half anticipating a B-list celeb to pop in.
I jest. It’s positively posh pub territory – all uncovered brickwork, large fireplaces and picket panelling – however in a homely, self-effacing manner. I’m intrigued to see how The Victoria’s well-credentialed founders Simon King (not the Bushy Biker, however ex-Ramsay Eating places operations guru) and Matt Larcombe (former head chef at Heston Blumenthal’s gastropub) will ship their promised “distinctive meals in a basic pub setting”. A look on the menu tells me it’s extra Ramsay than Blumenthal, however I suppose there’s solely a lot you will get away with in Oxshott.
I’m instantly baffled on the starter choice, which is half uncooked, half vegetarian, leaving few choices for any diners remotely sceptical of greens or raw meat (Boyfriend, unsurprisingly, is each). I’m fairly content material tucking into the salmon with avocado and caper berries (the caper’s extra mature and crunchier sibling). Beneficiant ribbons of buttery salmon, delicately balanced by strands of bitter frisee and radicchio, sharp pops from the berries and blobs of creamy avo: the definition of a easy however efficient dish. They don’t skimp on portion sizes right here. Regardless of my love of each cauliflower and mushrooms, I can’t be swayed by the cauliflower soup or the mushroom parfait, nor do I blame veg sceptics for feeling the identical both: on paper, it appears like a variety of beige and gray ambiguous mush. We additionally swerve the boring tomato salad in favour of the salt chamber-aged beef tartare, dotted with delicate little hen egg yolks. I’ve had higher, I’ve had worse.
It might have been prison to not take the roast dinner for a spin, so Boyfriend was appointed the meat, which was so alarmingly pink he loudly reiterated his distaste for meat that isn’t charred to inside an inch of its life. Whereas, true, it was on the rarer aspect, it was as scrumptious as its repute claimed it to be, served with an acceptably sized Yorkshire pudding, a single, huge glazed carrot and, clearly, roast potatoes, which had been sadly a bit dry. The serve-yourself jug of gravy on the aspect was most appreciated. If something, it was all served a bit too merely given there’s a Blumenthal chef within the kitchen. I couldn’t assist however really feel that the boiled seasonal veg on the aspect ought to have been jazzed up a bit – although, the canine didn’t complain when a few florets of broccoli had been sneaked below the desk. (Disclaimer: I’ve an exceptionally excessive normal for roast dinners, which I firmly consider can by no means be nearly as good as your mum’s, however I do settle for that there’s a spectrum of satisfactory roast dinners served at eating places. Boring broccoli apart, this one ranks respectably.)
As I typically discover it troublesome to say no to fish or something that comes with beurre noisette (that’s brown butter to you plebs), I order the roasted plaice – which is unfortunately swapped for sea bream. It comes bathed in that heat, melt-in-the-mouth sauce and a veritable heap of capers, pickled cucumber and the age-old fishy pal samphire. This dish should be having a second: it’s on each menu and throughout Instagram. If that is the dish of summer time 2022, it’s welcome to remain so long as it likes. The Victoria’s tackle it is sort of a box-ticking train: fall-apart fish with an ASMR crispy pores and skin? Examine. One thing bitter, one thing salty? Examine, examine. A wealthy, lip-smacking sauce that’s simply as at house with savoury as it’s with candy? Examine. In the event that they’d served the beurre noisette in a mug, I’d have drunk it by way of a straw. That’s a Blumenthal twist, if I ever heard one.
For dessert, I went in opposition to my higher judgement and selected a face-puckeringly candy apple crumble with custard and ice cream (only one or the opposite would have sufficed) that I couldn’t end on account of stated insufferable tartness. Idiot me for selecting apples out of season. Boyfriend’s sticky toffee pudding was demolished earlier than I’d managed to open my eyes, so I suppose that was the higher selection. The neighbouring desk was canny sufficient to go for the banana souffle, which appeared wobbly and spectacular and the waiter dramatically doused in a caramel-rum sauce tableside. Let’s simply agree that you simply shouldn’t come to me for dessert critiques.
Maybe name-dropping their ex-bosses firstly of this assessment does King and Larcombe a disservice – they got down to revamp a neighbourhood pub providing “elevated” (let’s blacklist that phrase) British classics, and that’s precisely what they’ve accomplished. A part of me needs it was a bit extra adventurous given the wealth of experience at their disposal, however that’s only one caught–up journalist’s opinion. Maybe I did myself a disservice by occurring a Sunday and never midweek. I just like the sound and the look of the beer-battered oyster with seaweed mayonnaise on the a la carte, and Boyfriend took one take a look at an image of their steak and went off in a huff. However at two programs for £35, 4 for £40, you’ll be able to’t actually go improper with Sunday’s menu. There’s extra Oxshott-appropriate costs midweek, with a complete plaice for £75 and a tomahawk for £215. Whinging apart, it was a near-perfectly executed Sunday lunch in my guide, made even sweeter by a canine stroll round Copse Lake close by. Large homes – nay, mansions – backed onto it, every with a show-home backyard, particular person jetty and rowboat. Sadly, at £2m a pop, it’s a bit out of finances.
The Victoria Oxshott, Excessive Road, Oxshott, Leatherhead, KT22 0JR | 01372 238 308 | thevictoriaoxshott.com
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