for Valentine's Day
Staring at a hippo’s buttocks: it must be love
Rating - 9/10, Matthew Norman
It happens exceedingly rarely when eating out, but with the Sir Charles Napier it was love at first sight, smell, sound and general feel. On entering the woodily beamed bar of this red-brick inn one freezing lunchtime a couple of years ago, we were so smitten by the scent of wood smoke, the warmth from two log fires, the sedate classical jazz and the reassuring sense that everything here was absolutely right, that my friend had declared “I love this place already” before he’d parked himself on a squishy sofa.
The ensuing meal was so impeccable... that I included the restaurant among five personal favourites in an introductory piece back in June. Aware that some of you may have been inspired to travel to a part of rural Oxfordshire remote enough to demand a top-of-the-range satnav device, terror presaged this overdue return.
Oxfordshire Restaurant of the Year
The Good Food Guide
'Joyous, seductive, romantic, addictive!' Superlatives come easily when talking about this instantly alluring gem high on a hill overlooking the Chiltern beechwoods. Everywhere there are sculptures - a black female nude reclines on the lawn, pigs and other animals inhabit the dining room - and the garden is a delight. Julie Griffiths runs the show with supreme style and good humor.
Top 10 Stylish Haunts - This is an old-fashioned inn that just happens to serve some of the best food in the county, as well as having the best grounds. The perfect halfway house between urban-floorboard gastropub and twee country ale house.
Tatler Restaurant Guide
Run by the charming Julie Griffiths
The Godfather of the gastro-pub revolution.
The Guardian - Matthew Fort
Lost in the trackless wastes of Oxfordshire, but well worth the search.
It’s possible some people might prefer the kitchen view to facing the naked lady whose private parts are right at eye level.
Napier was the man who, after relieving the siege of Sind, sent Queen Victoria a telegram reading simply ‘peccavi’ or I have sinned.
The Sunday Telegraph
The Sir Charles Napier has oodles of understated charisma.