When an opportunity to visit The Bell in Hampton Poyle came along, there was no way I could say no. Opened in 2009, The Bell is both boutique hotel and quaint country pub, fusing traditional British inn with cosy, contemporary furnishings.
While the five-star hotel offers nine boutique rooms, the restaurant serves a typically British menu, including an A La Carte menu (featuring dishes like West Country haddock in beer batter, 8oz sirloin steak, and pan-fired sea trout). They also offer Sunday lunches, as well as a pizza menu with their open wood oven.
The Bell pride themselves in using fresh and locally sourced ingredients, which are switched up according to the season; something we love to see here at Bitten.
The interior of the restaurant embodies a real cosy feel, with log fires, dark oak décor, and mini fairy lights. Exposed beam-work and low ceilings give The Bell that cottage-esque vibe that’s so familiar in Oxfordshire, and city dwellers like me adore.
You’ll find a large car park out the front, with designated spots for disabled access. There are also no steps entering the restaurant – a plus for my nan who I took with me.
Inside, to your left, there’s an open kitchen so you can watch the chefs hard at work, preparing your dishes. Everything is cooked to order, meaning staff space out each order by about 20-25 minutes to keep dishes fresh and piping-hot.
To start, we nibbled on pitted mixed olives from Greece (not particularly a favourite of mine, but a must for both my mum and nan), plus grilled king prawns for the three of us to share. The prawns came skewered, on top of a garlic cheese flatbread with sweet chilli and garlic aioli dip.
Next up, we have the main dishes…
While the head chef at The Bell is British, he’s Italian by trade – something my Swiss-Italian nan picked up on when she ate her risotto – which, by the way, she wouldn’t stop raving about: “It’s perfectly al dente!”
In her spring risotto came asparagus, peas, broad beans, wild garlic and spinach, in a creamy sauce; the dish was light, packed with herby flavour and with, as my nan kept saying, “rice cooked to perfection.”
I opted for the 8oz steak frites, with salad, fries, and choice of béarnaise, peppercorn or garlic butter. I chose the latter option – because is there any better combo than garlic and butter?! It was a rump steak, automatically coming medium-rare unless you state otherwise, which was perfect with me. A deliciously juicy, plump steak, which paired perfectly with the creamy garlic butter.
Something you may not be aware of, is that The Bell now works with OX3 Greens, Oxford’s first ‘vertical farm’; OX3 Greens grow fresh produce indoors using a hydroponic growing system, which is continuously controlled to optimise growing conditions. Fancy, huh? They’re located within five miles of The Bell, meaning herbs arrive ultra-fresh. Plus, because they’re not grown outside, there are zero pesticides or preservatives used on these flavourful micro herbs!
My mum went for a Sunday roast, which is available from 12pm – 3.45pm every Sunday. After toying between meat options – Cotswold leg of lamb, aged rare roast sirloin of beef, or roast Cotswold porchetta – she opted for the porchetta. The porchetta came with a giant pig in blanket, apple and calvados puree, and pork crackling. All roasts also come with roasted potatoes, seasonal vegetables, cauliflower cheese and huge Yorkshire pudding – enough to feed the 5000!
With the roasts starting at £21.50, going up to £36 for a 50 day Himalayan dry-aged Cotes de boeuf for two people, it’s probably not the typical place for your weekly Sunday lunch – but ideal for a slightly more special occasion. The Bell also have a function room available to hire, which seats around 10 people.
Whilst we didn’t have room for dessert, I wished I did…
As the menu offers mouth-watering options such as Sicilian lemon posset and a traditional sticky toffee pudding. You’ll also find local cheeses paired with chutney and artisan crackers, like Oxfordshire blue. Not to mention a great selection of coffee and liqueurs!
Boasting locally sourced produce, prodigious portion sizes and a warm, homely atmosphere, it was a big thumbs up from us. Just be warned – you won’t get much signal inside, so you’ll have to save your Instagramming to after the meal!
11 Oxford Rd, Hampton Poyle, Kidlington OX5 2QD
We dined as guests of The Bell, all views remain our own