Note: When we went to review The Folly it was prior to lockdown, so expect some changes for safe distancing.
As you approach The Folly’s almost, ‘blink and you miss it’ subtle entrance off of St Aldates, you’ll walk under an archway adorned with fairy lights – a sweet, decorative touch that runs all the way through the restaurant.
Walking down the stone steps into The Folly, you’re greeted by a fresh, clean interior. The roof and side windows give it a light and airy feel, along with its shabby chic décor.
We met the lovely and welcoming staff at The Folly, who showed us to our lovely river view table. When we were given the menus, little did I know we were having the 7-course tasting menu – result!
On with the food review
We had sliced bread with salted butter and herbed butter to start. We tried to avoid the classic mistake of filling up before the real stuff came out, but it was the softest, lightest bread I’d ever had. It had arrived warm, too – a simple pleasure so many places forget.
The tasting menu, usually taking around 2-2.5 hours to complete, costs £59pp with a £29pp wine pairing option. As we only had two hours parking, the staff did a great job of bringing our food quickly enough to accommodate.
First up, the appetisers
Pork belly topped with crackling, which came with a red cabbage puree, smoked leek emulsion and a fancy popcorn twist. The pork pulled apart perfectly and contrasted the crunchy, crispiness of the crackling. Together? The most successful marriage I’ve ever witnessed! Plus, the purees added a perfect amount of flavour to accompany the dish.
The scallops, our first starter, aren’t something I’d usually pick even as a seafood lover. I also don’t actually like black pudding, so the crunchy black pudding crumb didn’t really do it for me. I was also pretty occupied eying up the pretty plate!
The next course, however, was possibly my top dish. It was an amalgamation of two of my foodie favourites – juicy sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella. Merged into a crispy, deep-fried arancini ball, served with parmesan, basil mayonnaise and rocket. It’s a wonder that I managed to get a picture of the gooey inside mid-bite… (Salivating whilst writing).
I’d brought my mum with me, who made a good point that there were no issues with food temperature; all of the dishes came out hot as opposed to lukewarm. We also eyed up the afternoon teas we saw being devoured around us – a great Mother’s Day idea and something I’d like to come back and try.
After our palate cleanser – lemon sorbet on a meringue crumb, topped with cucumber – we were ready to take on the main courses. I’m not sure my tight jeans agreed with me, though.
Bring on the mains
The first, pan-fried sea bass with curried white beans, was super flavourful with a nice Asian kick. The fish was cooked perfectly with a crispy, tasty skin.
I realised by this point that the tasting menu is good value for all you get, but wished I’d worn more of an elasticated waistband…
The final main of pan-roasted guinea fowl, with little potato bonbon’s and seasonal veg, was cooked perfectly. However, it definitely could’ve had more of the jus to feel a little less dry.
It’s a Folly not to leave room for pud! (sorry)
The finale of the meal was a lemon and poppy seed sponge, with gin & tonic sorbet and lemon curd. After six courses, it was good to have a light, fluffy sponge with refreshing lemon. As a G&T lover, I thoroughly enjoyed it sorbet style, which was a first.
To say we left feeling full up is possibly an understatement; we practically waddled to the car and, once home, swapped our jeans for pyjama bottoms pronto.
This delicious, hard to fault meal, is one I’ve already recommended to others. Well-thought-out dishes enjoyed leisurely with a lovely view, makes for a great special occasion meal.
The Folly has a brand new summer menu with local suppliers, operating on weekends only and limited capacity for now. Whether just popping in for a drink or for food, don’t forget to book ahead!
Wheelchair access is available, through an alternative entrance around the side of the restaurant. When we visited to review The Folly, we parked on Whitehouse Road, which was available for two hours – similarly to the other backstreets of Oxford. The Westgate car park is your next best bet if driving to The Folly.
We dined as guests to review The Folly, all views remain our own.