The Cherwell Boathouse pretty much encompasses all the charming elements that have made Oxford such a destination. A gorgeous building dating back to 1904 located directly on the canal with exposed brick beams, tables adorned with crisp white table cloths, and twinkly fairy lights adding a touch of magic to the room.
We were the first in, for an early 12.30 lunch sitting. The staff were friendly and super relaxed, we instantly felt at home, settling into our seats with glasses of the local pale ale Oxbrew. It was Sunday which meant we could choose from the inviting Sunday lunch menu, which was a mix of unusual starters, Sunday roast and classic mains, all of which looked great.
I started with the Butternut squash & almond velouté, whilst my girlfriend opted for the Barbecue Galician octopus, with chorizo spiced butter beans, pickled baby onion and coriander. As soon as are plates were placed down we knew we were in for a real treat. The attention placed on aesthetics was undeniable; my soup, a fiery yellow colour, was served with the lightest coconut foam, whilst the parts of the octopus dish were expertly scattered about the plate to make it look like a mini piece of art. Even the crockery used was chosen to match the colours in the dish. The amazing food styling wasn’t deceiving, it really did taste as good as it looked, my velouté a warming creamy soup with almond undertones.
We were off to a good start, delicious starters which looked awesome, on to our mains. And they did not disappoint. Whilst my dinner date went for the traditional Sunday roast; Pork belly with apple sauce served with roast potatoes carrots, braised red cabbage, wilted greens and cauliflower cheese.
I went for the Stuffed portobello mushrooms, cep & Madeira purée, blue cheese, sweet potato, with a side of the roast vegetables (because it kind of feels wrong not to have roast vegetables with your Sunday dinner). Once again, the effort gone to make the dishes into foodie works of art was evident from the first glance. Sweet potato sliced like a giant smile next to mushrooms pilled with cheese topped off with green garnishing, placed purposely on a black plate, finished off with charcoal coloured puree, it all looked so thought out. It was delicious. Fleshy mushrooms are always a good vegi option for a main, especially when they are so fresh and pilled with cheese, and the sweet potato was cooked to perfection. Not your traditional version of a Sunday roast but I felt damn happy about my Sunday feast.
It was coming to that end of a delicious meal when you know you are completely full and shouldn’t carry on… But we couldn’t skip dessert.
My lady opted for nutty chou served with praliné ice cream, roasted banana and hazelnut brittle, which sounded pretty tempting, but I also spotted something that I’d always wanted to try but for some reason hadn’t. Pumpkin Pie. Served with spice latte ice cream, there was no way I was missing out on this opportunity, and also hedged my bets on her being a total babe and sharing hers with me either way. Both good choices but the pumpkin pie stole the show, a fluffy pie full of sugar and spice, with the latte ice cream the perfect balance of creamy indulgence. We said farewell to our lovely waiter, who had been totally charming and attentive throughout, and promised if we were ever in the area we were 1000% coming back.
The restaurant which had an empty bar us when we arrived, was now bustling with energy, with every table filled with happy diners.
A total must if you are ever in Oxford, the Cherwell Boathouse Is not just a beautiful building in a picturesque location, their food and drink offering is next to none. It’s no wonder they have gained the reputation as one of the top restaurants in Oxford, they totally deserved it.
Address: Cherwell Boathouse, Bardwell Road, Oxford, OX2 6ST
Written by Jordan Crowley