Scores: 1 M*/ GFG 4
The Sir Charles Napier is a restaurant/ pub outside Chinnor in Oxfordshire. It is about 10minutes drive from Junction 5 or 6 on the M40 thus would suit anyone going to/ returning from the Bicester village outlets. Just be careful though as there are some proper single line country roads on the way!
The restaurant is well outside the town, being in a small hamlet; it has a good sized car park and is surrounded by fields at the rear. One of the best features of this restaurant are the gardens, these are beautifully designed and feature several areas to sit outside. There are also some unusual sculptures of animals throughout the gardens and the restaurant. Whether this actually is a pub or restaurant is open to interpretation but does not really matter. It does have a couple of draft beers available but I can’t imagine it gets much custom from people who are just drinking.
There were a few canapés served in the garden as we looked at the menu. The menu contained a lot of choice and deciding on a starter and a main was hard work as most of the dishes looked good. Diver caught scallops with mango chutney was a very good dish, featuring three large and well-cooked scallops with the sauce adding some tart sweetness. Another starter of seared sesame tuna, with crab was also nice with all the components being well cooked and seasoned, although this was almost like three separate dishes on one plate.
Turbot with onion bhagi was slightly weird concept; however, the piece of onion bhagi did add spice and texture to the fish. The fish itself was a very nice piece of turbot containing plenty of flavour, although if I was being critical I would say that it was just a touch overcooked on the outside. Grilled Cornish lobster with orange, lobster salad and citrus dressing was the dearest main course but it was also the biggest one we saw and had lots of prime meat in it. It was served as two separate dishes; a main plate contained large chunks of lobster on top of a rosti with some peas and leaves. A smaller bowel contained some more meat although with salad in a citrus dressing. This was a great dish, very well cooked lobster with a lovely complement of citrus flavours. A main of hake with chorizo and butterbean also looked good and I was informed that it tasted just as good as it looked.
A salted caramel, chocolate and peanut terrine with blackcurrant sorbet sounded like an unusual combination to me and it proved to be! Although the blackcurrant sorbet was lovely on its own, having a real depth of flavour, I found it did not go well with the caramel and peanut. Also we thought that the peanut slightly overpowered the terrine- as it left a slight sticking to the top of your month texture. Much better was an elderflower, yoghurt and raspberry parfait with salted caramel and hazelnuts. Here the fruit flavour was complemented by the elderflower and a sweetness from the salted caramel. While there was texture added from the base and the nuts, overall this was a well-balanced summery dish. I was also informed that strawberry eton mess with ice cream, and cherry and almond tart with stout ice cream were very good.
The Sir Charles Napier is not cheap with starters from £10 to £15 and most mains in the high £20s but the standard of food is high. The wine list also features some nice bottles including some fairly priced Burgundies. Overall it is a lovely place to spend a summer’s afternoon or evening.