Pompette opened its doors recently for a bunch of bloggers, Instagrammers and local foodies for a special Autumn tasting event, featuring dishes from their bar menu and à la carte menu.
The restaurant, which is about to hit its 1st birthday, opened on the site of Portabello in Summertown. It’s the first Oxfordshire restaurant for Pascal Wiedmann and his wife Laura, who moved to the area from London after eyeing Oxford up for five full years. I visited in November last year for a pre-opening preview, and Chloe has since been for a review, but this was an opportunity to see how the restaurant has settled in, and try its current food offering.
We also got a good look at the stunning private dining room above the restaurant, which was designed by Laura. Keep reading for pictures of that!
Chef-owner, Pascal, comes with a bounty of experience within top London restaurants; with tenures at Terroirs, Soif and, more recently, 6 Portland Road. The restaurant has already received rapturous applause in reviews by national critics. On my own visit, the only fault I found was a lack of buzz; brought on more by its North Oxford locale than the venue itself, which is full of personality.
This type of event, however, seems just what the venue needs to bring some lively atmosphere to proceedings.
On the menu
To start off with, we dipped crunchy baguette croutons into a silky cheese and herb dip; oohed and ahhed as we bit softly into rich ham croquettes; then fell somewhat in love with the salt-on-salt hit of anchovy, shallot and butter toasts.
Charcuterie followed: a meltingly soft 24-month Proscuitto di Parma with Mozzarella; and a really lovely terrine, made with pork, duck, prune and pistachios.
Onwards to the mains
Now, this is controversial among my friends, but I’m definitely more of a savoury fan – gimme a starter and main over main and pudding and I’m totally down with that. So I was very happy we got to sample a couple of mains, too.
Laid down before us was a selection of Hereford ribeye steaks – seared dark and dripping with melted butter and meat juice – accompanied on the side by bowls of ‘fish & chip shop’ size chips, caramel in colour and holding plenty of crunch.
Hell. Flippin’. Yes.
The steaks went down a storm – packed full of umami flavour with perfectly pinky meat within, served with Bernaise sauce, red wine & bone marrow sauce (delicious), and house butter. A vegetarian plateful of polenta piled high with wild mushrooms, spinach and parmesan wasn’t overlooked either, looking equally exciting.
Loads of richness, loads of flavour (loads of butter), and loads of toe-curlingly pleasing mouthfuls of food, the type that make you shut your eyes. French dining as it should be. For dessert, the options were kept simple, with some beautifully baked warm Madellaines and amaretti biscuits.
After we’d eaten, a few of us snuck upstairs to take a proper look at the private dining space above the restaurant. The space is opulent and art nouveau, comfortable and stylish. Walls and ceiling are a deep, dark blue like the night sky, furniture and furnishings are a mix of vintage and velvet with loads of ambient lighting.
It’s one of the nicest private dining rooms I’ve seen, with the benefit of being decked out for corporate meetings, should you be looking for something special. Even the foyer to the salon privé is stunning, with baby pink armchairs dripping with tassels, a vintage sideboard and an artichoke lamp topped with a fuchsia lampshade.
A very good addition to the Oxford dining selection, especially for a special occasion, but it really shouldn’t be limited to this. If you find the a la carte menu daunting (starters are £9-14, mains £16.50-35), the bar menu is exquisite and you could easily dine for £20 or less per person plus drinks. Or, they offer a fixed price menu with two-courses for £16.50 or three for £20, which is an absolute bargain.
If you haven’t been yet, please do, the decor and food are utterly delicious and owners, Laura and Pascale, are passionate about making the restaurant work. The staff are polite, knowledgable and friendly. The best times to go for atmosphere are weekends and evenings, although I’d love to see if busier during weekday lunchtimes, so the more of us that go, the better it will become.
Perfect for: Friends, family, colleagues, dates. Possibly too formal to take my (wild) little ones to, but I don’t think the staff or owners would have an issue with kids.
Make sure you try: The charcuterie, the anchovy toasts and the steaks.