Tucked away on the second floor of John Lewis in the Westgate Centre is an oasis of Scandinavian chic and calm. Accessible either through the store or via a separate ground floor entrance and lift, KuPP Oxford is one of four restaurants sharing their Nordic theme of good food and good design in a casual yet quality way.
We were invited to lunch on a rare sunny winter’s day and the glass fronted area was vibrant with shafts of sunlight hitting the vibrant decor, both inside and out. It was a little too chilly for us to sit outside on the roof terrace although blankets were available had we been adventurous.
KuPP focuses on all day dining, with a separate breakfast menu featuring a more healthy take on morning dining. There’s lots of sourdough and rye breads, smoked salmon or trout, eggs and even Swedish pancakes with a sweet sour cream and lingonberry sauce which I ate on a previous visit along with several cups of their very good coffee.
Brunch wise, there’s a selection of pastries and cakes known as fika – a Swedish term for a little something to have with your coffee. Cinnamon swirls, cruffins, flapjacks, courgette and almond cake could fit the bill alongside your coffee, tea, freshly made juice or super smoothie. We decided to start off with an apple, mint and lime juice whilst we perused the menu.
Going at lunchtime meant we had access to the whole menu and that took us a little while to narrow down our choices. It had been suggested that we should definitely try one of the smorgasbords, as that is probably what defines Swedish cuisine here for most people (excluding Ikea meatballs and cream gravy!) and that in itself was a difficult decision.
There’s three bords available; the Veggie bord, the KuPP bord and the Fiske bord. There were too many meat and dishes that tickled our palate so we ruled out the Veggie. But the KuPP board didn’t have any fish on it and we really wanted to try their beetroot cured Norwegian gravadlax so we requested a special order of the gravadlax to accompany our KuPP bord. And we were glad we did!
Decent slices, no paper thin slivers here, of gloriously purple stained salmon with wedges of lemon, Maldon sea salt and rye bread. The salmon had a delicate smoked flavour with an earthy sweetness of beetroot. Wonderful!
Our KuPP bord came with the house smoked pork meatballs, potted rabbit, chorizo sausage roll, smoked beef carpaccio, Vasterbotten cheese, potato salad, pickled vegetables, scandi slaw, mustard mayo, crispbreads and toasted sourdough for £25.50 – to share!
I’d already ordered the meatballs for my main dish so started with the chorizo sausage roll. Good pastry with the sweet, smoky chorizo filling. The potted rabbit wasn’t really my thing but Jacqui enjoyed it and I found the texture more enjoyable when paired with a crispbread.
The smoked beef carpaccio was good but not really as I expected, lacking in smokiness and resembling a medium rare roast beef rather than the wafer thin slices of raw meat I was looking forward to. Paired with the dill and mustard seed potato salad or the roasted onion wedges it was lovely, just not a carpaccio in the true sense of the word.
The Vasterbotten cheese was a good, mature, hard cheese with a texture like Cheddar but more of a Parmesan pungency. That, with the scandi slaw was very good!
Having worked our way through all this plus the additional gravadlax, we were slightly regretting ordering main courses as well! Jacqui had ordered the oven roast venison loin with lingonberry sauce, £18.95. This came sliced atop a bed of roasted beetroot, smoked red onion and with a finishing dollop of horseradish cream.
Jacqui’s face dropped a little when she registered the lack of potatoes on her plate but she admitted that they weren’t needed, the dish was more than filling enough without them. The venison was perfectly cooked, rich and gamey with the accompanying horseradish laced cream a perfect foil. So much so, that she recreated the dish at home and apparently “it turned out pretty bloody good!”
As mentioned previously, I’d ordered the house smoked meatballs, served with honey and mustard crushed new potatoes, sour hop cream sauce, lingonberry jam, pickled cucumber and red cabbage, £13.50. Unusually for me, the veggies were a clear winner in this meal. The meatballs were soft and after a couple, became a little texturally boring and the sour hop sauce was overwhelmingly strong, almost if it had been repeatedly reduced down. The potatoes were good, albeit heavy on the mustard. I found myself eating all the veg to cut through the overly heavy flavours on the rest of the plate and actually ended up leaving my food. Never happens. Never.
Even more stuffed after that, we agreed to share a dessert and at our waiter’s recommendation chose the white chocolate and pepparkakor (ginger snaps biscuit) cheesecake, adorned with raspberries and mint, £6.50. A whipped, creamy topping over a lightly pressed gingery crumb was a good finish, and was more than enough for us to round off the meal, along with two espressos.
I love the vibe of KuPP and what they offer and genuinely think I made a bad choice on that day rather than there being anything wrong. The service was excellent, the smorgasbord was really good, the salmon was amazing and I’d definitely return but would try something else, probably on the lighter side such as one of their open sandwiches, or even JT’s venison but not the meatballs.
We dined as guests of KuPP, but all opinions are our own.