Here at Bitten, we’ve been fans of St Giles’ Cafe ever since it’s much mentioned metamorphosis from a dark, dingy and nicotine stained greasy spoon to a cool, calm and chilled cafe. It was with baited breath that we heard the news that Baz, owner of St Giles Cafe, was taking over the White Hart in Wytham. There’s been so many occasions when we’ve had our hopes raised for some amazing food and then had them cruelly dashed that I was both hopeful and apprehensive, in fact I was bloody terrified!
On a cold wintry Sunday, just a few days after reopening, we ventured out for a roast dinner. Unlike Jacqui, I’d rather stay home for my Sunday dinner despite having to slave over a hot stove, baste joints of meat and peel masses of veg purely because I do a bloody good roast dinner. Most other places just don’t measure up to my Yorkies, crispy spuds and proper gravy so why would I spend a large sum of money to have a plate of mediocre food!?
However, having faith in Baz and an innate curiosity to see what he’d done with the Hart in less than two weeks, off we went. First off, the place looks good. Welcoming, warm and exactly what a country pub should look like, there are open fires, animal references dotted around, comfy chairs and banquettes and interesting light fittings that I coveted! We started off with a glass of fizz in honour of my husband’s birthday whilst we perused the menu. On Sundays, only the Sunday lunch menu is available, consisting of complimentary homemade bread with olive oil and balsamic to start then two courses for £21. I went for the obvious choice – roast sirloin of beef with Yorkshire pudding and homemade horseradish sauce. The beef was good, really good. Tender, flavoursome and with a good crust for that extra kick. Hubby went for the roast leg of Wytham farm lamb and oldest child had the slow roast Wytham pork loin. The lamb was soft and sweet and I didn’t get to try the pork as the boy snaffled it down fast and snarled at me when I requested a piece to try. There’s a warning right there – never come between a teenage boy and his Sunday roast!
The meats were accompanied by a seemingly endless array of vegetables. First up was a dish containing rosemary and orange buttered carrots, maple syrup and thyme roasted parsnips, buttered kale with bacon lardons, minted peas, and garlic and shallot fine beans. We’d made pretty healthy inroads to all that before the roast potatoes arrived! And then there was the cauliflower cheese… Loads of flavour, tons of butter but somehow not overly rich. All the flavours balanced together well and there was even an extra jug of gravy presented to us. The potatoes were as good as mine, hot, crispy and roughened on the outside while steaming and fluffy on the inside. And the Yorkies, the boy said they were better than mine and I would have to grudgingly agree that they’re certainly as good as.
Despite good-sized portions, we still managed room for dessert and here is my only complaint – they had almost run out of everything on the menu. The boy snaffled the last chocolate mousse, which could have been a tad fluffier, and the husband had a blood orange sorbet which I stole half of as it was so refreshing. We managed to walk out to the car without too much effort and went home for a traditional Sunday afternoon nap on the sofa, thoroughly replete and content.
The bill came in at just under sixty quid and frankly, it is a testament to my strength of will that I didn’t end up back there this last Sunday! I could happily go back there every week and never cook a roast ever again – it really is deserving of being named THE best roast in Oxford. Excellent food, a gorgeous location and fab staff. Book your table now!
Having been on the hunt for Oxfordshire’s best Sunday Lunch for some time, I think I can safely say we’ve finally found it. St Giles’ Cafe’s Mark Butcher is on to an absolute winner here in the White Hart in Wytham, if my recent visit was anything to go by. As Becca has already covered the pub and food in greater detail, I’ll tell you just why it was the best I’d had.
Firstly, every single ingredient on the plate tasted amazing. Not just great, AMAZING. I’m usually a two roast potato kind of gal, at a push. Here I had two, then two more, then I lost count – I just kept going back for more. I haven’t done that since my Nan was alive and cooking her amazing Sunday lunches.
Secondly, the crackling with my pork was cooked to perfection and expertly seasoned, as were all the other ingredients. That’s pretty bloody impressive.
And finally, the prices were all rather reasonable. We paid just under £50 for two adults and two children, including drinks and tip. Well worth every single penny.
The pub itself is warm and cozy, all old and full of character. The only downside? The food was incredibly rich. For food to taste that good it often involves a healthy dose of butter and oils, which it did. It isn’t an ‘eat every week’ kind of roast dinner – unless you do plenty of exercise to counterbalance – but hell it’s good, reeeealy good.
If you haven’t yet been, go. Or better still, steer clear to ensure we can always get a table there.