Best Restaurant Guide for Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire
Updated: Mar 10
Karen and I were in Madeira in November 2022 and we were lucky with good sunny weather where this picture was taking having afternoon tea at Reid's Palace Hotel. We are both foodies and love to explore our local area for eateries both traditional and the quirky. My corporate and domestic clients give me up to date reviews of local places to eat and introduce me to ones that are very new or hidden away in the rural corners of the two counties.
Karen is a vegan macrobiotic health coach and we both are predominately vegans and love homely healthy cooked food made from first principles.
There are real challenges for many restaurants and pubs in 2023 with the high cost of heating their establishments and to acquire staff since Brexit. As a consequence, a number of local businesses that have been trading for many years have gone to the wall. The Mole and Chicken closed it's doors on 31 November 2022 but still provides accommodation and the restaurant in The Hundred in December of the same year. The Eight Bells in Long Crendon has also closed and the Pheasant in Brill is closed looking for new owners
However, two businesses have thrive and adapted since Covid and they are Philip Britten and Vegan Panjabi.
Philip Britten is a one-star Michelin chef from London who has relocated to a very beautiful location at the The Clock Pavilion of Wotton House. He provides cookery courses before the pandemic but now in addition, take away meals from his kitchen on three days a week, equivalent to one-star Michelin. You will need to email him so he can put you on his take away mailing list. Every email he sends out comes with some golden nuggets of information in how he chooses the seasonal ingredients and what he has seen in the market on that day.
You choose a time to collect and he cooks the meal to finish at that time so you can eat when you get it home and the food is affordable. Alternately, I have friends who live far away and they reheat it after getting home. They say the food still taste amazing but don’t tell Phillip you are doing that. Payment is prepaid by bank transfer and you will have to scan or photo your order and send it to him by email with your collection time. The email he sends out has the menu, prices and order form attached so it's relatively a simple process.
The Clock Pavilion
Tel: 07973 551485
Bal of V-Giyan - Vegan Panjabi has set up one of the most innovative Indian vegan companies to come out of the UK in recent times with great customer service, a fantastic website and a man who has real heart at the core of his business. The food is ordered in the morning and delivered to your door later in the afternoon and in our case, the shed in our garden if we are away. Delivery is free in most of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire but you will have to call and confirm that they deliver to you. For peak times on Fridays and weekends, it is recommended to book two days in advance.
The food is precooked the same day and only needs heating up before plating and is very healthy. We all know that cooking from first principles and using quality ingredients is important for any meal and that’s no different with vegan food too. Vegan Panjabi has a five-star rating with Trustpilot https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/veganpunjabi.delivery
V-Giyan: Vegan Punjabi Food Delivery
Unit A, Upper Campsfield Road
The Straight Mile
Tel: 01869 354713
If you would like to find out more about Karen and her macrobiotic vegan coaching then see her website: https://www.getfeelfantastic.com/macrobiotic
I have produced a best restaurant guide for nearly twenty one years for Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire from sampling the food in the past myself or getting up to date reviews from my clients in the area. I have a corporate client base who are fed up with the food in their hotels, that they are quite simply prepared to travel for something a little different. I would recommend that you look at TripAdvisor to get the most recent reviews before you make your way to any restaurant.
The Yurt at Nicholsons is located in North Aston near Bicester in a garden centre and is in the Michelin guide. It is only open for breakfast, brunch and lunch from Tuesday to Saturday. Breakfast before 11.45am and Lunch at 12 noon. Last orders are 2.30pm. You need to book beforehand and I suspect that it gets very popular on Saturday and in the summer. We visited it recently on a Wednesday which was quiet
Karen and I consider this venue as the best brunch we have had with homemade American pancakes especially the fruit one more so than the banana one. The avocado, smoke salmon and scrambled eggs on sourdough was simply the best we have tasted.
There is a cosy atmosphere with the stove especially as we visited it on a cold day and I love the geometry and earthiness of the yurt which also adds to the ambience. Still the most expensive brunch in the area but well worth the visit. They are being accessed for a Michelin star which is for their luncheons only. You are not allowed to take dogs inside but the outdoor seating around the yurt is dog friendly
The Yurt at Nicholsons
Tel: 01869 340342
The Wandering Kitchen at Wet n Wild is a lovely casual eatery, dog friendly and is on the edge of a lake. You can walk the dogs around the lake and have a meal here afterwards. We prefer to eat outside especially on a sunny day. The food is freshly prepared and organic and they cater for vegetarians and vegans too. Their vegan burger is very good.
The Wandering Kitchen
Tel: 01865 343568
The Swan Inn in Islip has a restaurant called Cygnet and is a rising star. It's only a matter of time before it gets it's star and then the prices will rise accordingly. Its reminds me of The Nut Tree at Murcott when the chef moved from The Goose at Britwell Salome and then they got their one star in a year.
My clients from Islip mentioned to me last year that Paul Welburn was going to move there and were raving about his track record at Oxford Kitchen which had a star. They had tried his food there and were waiting for him to come to their village. The wait is over and the reviews on TripAdvisor could not be any better. I still have not been there yet but will try his vegan options as soon as possible. I've only been here as a set location for Midsomer Murders on one of my tours
I've put a link to TripAdvisor so you can see the food photos and recent reviews for yourself
The Swan Inn
1 Lower Street
Tel: 01865 849959
The Tipi at Preston Bissett Nurseries is both dog and cyclist friendly with a casual and warm ambience. I love the use of wood for the floors and the tables to make it cosy and homely. Affordable food is available with an organic eye for detail and comes with vegan and vegetarian options.
There are sofas to the rear which makes it ideal if you want to grab a coffee and chat with friends. They are also events scheduled throughout the year which includes horticultural classes and special Tipi events such as the Solstice Supper Club on the 23 June which is my kind of event. Next time I plan to sit next to the wood burner as the smell of the wood burning and the fire as both soporific and comforting on a winter's day.
The Tipi at Preston Bissett
Preston Bissett Nurseries
Tel; 01280 848038
We have been coming here since it opened last year with the new managers Brandon an Matteo who have done an an amazing job. The pub has gone through a transformation inside with a blend of the contemporary and the traditional which seems to fit well. Modern twist on traditional gastropub fare together with some very good vegan and vegetarian options.
This is a prime example on how the community can get involved with the village pub and bring something different and authentic from her own culture to the village. It reminds me of The Trades Club in Hebden Bridge which has a national reputation for a music venue and did the same thing. It became a creative hub for the local community inviting the local community to share their culinary delights whilst having an existing main menu.
They do provide a takeaway service too and the fish and chips I had on the day shown in the picture above was also provided as a takeaway in a box, what a great idea. They provide other food on their menu in the same format.
The Chandos Arms
8 The Turnpike
Tel: 01844 396179
We both live in the village called Brill and is sometimes called Brill on the hill which is known for its windmill and the natural beauty of the adjacent landscape. The Pheasant pub is temporarily closed as it's about to have new owners. The Pheasant pub is located near the windmill and has a raised decking outside so you can see the windmill whilst you eat.
It is also a dog friendly pub with dog bowls outside on the decking and you can take your dog inside by prior arrangement if you wish to eat under cover.
It has a traditional pub menu with good selection of Sunday roasts including nut roast for the vegans or vegetarians.
The village and windmill has been used as a set locations for many Midsomer Murder episodes and I have toured many clients here from all over the world.
39 Windmill Street
Tel: 01844 239370
I've had the best and worst meal in the Pointer and it still has mixed reviews looking at the TripAdvisor comments. Its all depends on the chef and management but it still has a London following from good reviews in the Times and other national periodicals about 4 years ago.
The prices reflect this clientele which can be a source of disappointment with the level of service and food. I've only included it in this guide because I have had one of the best meals here about 6 years ago, I prefer to eat in the bar as its more casual. The Pointer also has its own quality butchers and I would recommend the homemade bread which comes in Friday and Saturday mornings.
27 Church Street
Tel: 01844 238339
The pub closed it doors for the last time on 31 December 2022 and is for sale. I have heard that it will be bought by a local company and will open later this year. The accommodation run by The Mole and Chicken is still available next door. I have been coming here for nearly 30 years and seen many incarnations over those years but each time a new owner comes, there is an upgrade in the food and service. Suzanne has owned the gastro pub for 9 years and I've seen an addition of outdoor decking and an update to it's country feel inside, casual but comfortable.
No dogs inside but there are dog bowls on the decking outside and the staff have water available to top up. I like to make a beeline to the sofa next to the inglenook fireplace and take drinks before the meal especially on chilly nights, the fire is so soporific.
My preference is to eat lunch outside in summer but you need to get here at 12 noon to guarantee a place as is so popular as you can't reserve the seating here. I've shown in the video how beautiful this place is with sheep in the adjacent field and the undulated landscape of the local countryside,
The Mole and Chicken
Tel: 01844 617745
The kitchen closed it doors on 01 November 2022 but still offers drinks. The Hundred at Ashendon is in a very rural location but has a local pub feel about with traditional table and chairs in the bar area.
The fireplace is always an attraction to me and I remember they had a special brew from Chiltern Brewer called Foxtrot Oscar.
The Hundred of Ashendon
Tel: 01296 651296
Many of my corporate clients absolutely love this place because the food is European and you have the eccentricity of the Belgian chef Frederick looking after you, we call him the mad Belgian chef. The quality of the food is always great and the atmosphere intimate. He has been here for nearly 30 years and may join you with a glass of wine at your table and have a conversation. He has always something interesting to say but if you are looking for a quiet romantic dinner for two, than this maybe not the right place for you.
Tel: 01844 747422
Hartwell House has a lot of history as part of the house was built for King Louis XXVII in exile and has a beautiful ornate staircase with French figurines and one of Winston Churchill expressing the true British sense of humour from the craftsman.
If you look at the video on the homepage, you can see the beauty of the building and the grounds around it. I took my mum for afternoon tea here and simply love the reception room adjacent the to the entrance with it's large fireplace and stately paintings. Its comfortable and relaxing without being ostentatious.
The standard of the food is high with the current chef previously working at one and three star Michelin restaurants in London. However, HS2 is under construction and will be routed at the edge of the grounds.
Bucks HP17 8NR
Tel: 01296 747444
The restaurant has a good reputation for fish dishes and I've been here about a year ago treated from one of my clients who is about to become a centenarian. I can confirm that the service and quality of food is very good.
The room from the entrance is similar to a large living room with a bar ahead of you and a number of sofas to relax in. I always like this idea of pre-drinks here before being invited to the dining area by the serving staff.
I can see that over the last few months, this establishment has received more five star rating than any local local eatery with the exception of Le Manior aux Quat'Saisons. That's a testament to the consistency of the food and service and one that I can vouch for in the last 12 years.
The Angel Restaurant
47 Bicester Road
Tel: 01844 208260
Many of my friends who live in Thame can't be more supportive of this place but I have had average service at this place on two occasions. I always feel a little cramped here as they seem to cram in the covers. I had business networking here in the past and the it seems better when there are less people here.
29-30 High Street
Tel: 01844 214340
The Black Horse in Thame was an traditional town pub until Raymond Blanc took over it three years ago and made it a French brasserie which has become very popular. It has a warm and friendly feel and you can tell that the staff are well trained.
Traditional french fare and if I was a meat eater, then this would be my go to restaurant in Thame
The Black Horse
Tel: 01844 219050
What's Cooking is my go to place for a full English breakfast in Thame because it's fresh and uses organic ingredients wither you are a meat eater or vegan as I am. It has the best coffee in town which includes alternative milks but you have to pay a premium for a quality product. £4 for squeezed orange juice is an example.
I love their sourdough bread which is always fresh with their own homemade soups such cream of watercress or french onion or minted pea and leek soup. They do have vegan options for lunch including wild mushroom stroganoff, butternut squash and mushroom lasagne. You can add yourself to their mailing list and they will send out a lunch menu to you everyday.
The eatery is primarily a deli with a shop front selling amazing cakes and artisan products and has a small eating area at the back. It gets full easily during peak times as there are limited tables available and it can be a little cramped. On a sunny day, you can eat al fresco which is my preference and see the world go by
Tel: 01844 212209
I have been going to the Nut Tree since it first opened in February 2007 and since Mike left the Goose at Britwell Salome. I remember how good the food was at the Goose so I tried the food in Murcott and it wasn't long before Mike got his one star Michelin at this establishment.
Imogen, his partner is great at front of house serving the tasting menu in the conservatory at the back and great skill in silver service. I love the laid back and unpretentiousness of the whole affair.
In recent months, many of my clients still rave about the food and how relaxed and comfortable they feel coming here. It's a one star Michelin eatery that's been consistent for 14 years at the Nut Tree.
Nut Tree Inn
Tel: 01865 331253
This is family friendly eatery which has a farm shop, cafe and farm animals. The children love to play outside in the rear garden, There are animals nearby to keep the children amused.
The farmers breakfast was always a favourite of mine with it's hardy portions and organic ingredients, including the meat supplied by their own butchery. I found the staff to very friendly when they started the business but I can see that to maintain the quality of service and product can be challenging.
I haven't tried it for a couple of years
Orchard View Farm
Tel: 01844 273387
I first met Antoine Chretiens whilst driving clients on a Midsomer Murder tour of the area and really like his infectious hospitality. We popped into the Swan in Tetsworth and my American clients were introduced to their first cream teas complete with newly bakes scones and an impromptu explanation of french patisserie and scones.
He has moved to the old Plough in Great Haseley and set up La Table d'Alix which has become the most fashionable place to visit amongst my clients in the last two years. It maybe pricey but you get great French food and I am sure that its a rising star for the Michelin guide.
It has the most 32 five star ratings with TripAdvisor before reaching a four star review which shows why my clients consider this as the number one eatery in the area.
La table d'Alix at the Plough
Tel: 01844 279283
The Sir Charles Napier gained a Michelin star in 2012 but lost it in 2018 and subsequently was fined for breaching health and safety rules. It still has a good reputation as my clients who are part of the local shooting community still prefer to come here.
I have been here a number of times and have had some lovely food here but I stop coming after I heard the owner talking in a condescending way to the people on the adjacent table. There is no excuse as this gives such a poor outlook to customers who can hear and see what was going on in this establishment.
As a word of warning, on icy days it important to take Chinnor Hill slowly especially as you get onto Sprigs Alley, the black ice is unforgiving.
Sir Charles Napier
Tel: 01494 483011
La Manior aux Quat'Saisons is nearly a thousand year old manor house and is the main restaurant for the famous chef Raymond Blanc, many of my clients who are chefs themselves call him the chef's chef. This is a Michelin two star eatery which has kept its status for nearly 35 years and especially an amazing feat considering the amount of covers in one sitting.
For me the gold standard for food is French cuisine where the passion for food is in every part of French living. You feel that passion when you come here as the waiters, sommeliers, reception staff want to impart their knowledge and give you the best possible experience.
I have been here a number of times and love having lunch here so I can walk around the Zen, English and the herb gardens. Having pre-lunch drinks near the croquet lawn and then lunch in the conservatory.
La Manior aux Quat'Saisons
Tel: 01844 278881
Before you move to the next listing, take a few minutes to see some of the gallery photos in this place as what you see on the outside is not really what you see on the inside. Its the most visited place for my foreign tourists because I know there's nothing like it anywhere else in the world.
I came here over twenty five years ago when it had a fish tank for a cistern in the gents toilets. You would see live fish fall down as you flushed the toilet and the fish would rise again on the next fill. The local authority caught wind of this and put an instant stop to it but never the less became a signature to some more interesting aspects to outrageousness and sometimes outlandish eccentricity.
The hotel reception inside is leather cladded Travelmaster London double-decker bus where you step up to check-in. A life size bear is surreptitious located in the ceiling of the eatery which I can assure is not alive but you would have to approach the bar first and look up to see it.
I love eating inside next to the fireplace as it's cosy and warm and I can people watch as they approach the bar. The food is expensive but you can get Groupon vouchers for many set meals which make it affordable.
They work on volume and allocate a certain time to your table so I would recommend that you come at off peak times so they give you good customer service. Recent reviews on TripAdvisor have shown some very poor experiences. I would also offer cash as a tip as on the last few occasions, the tip has gone to the owner.
The Crazy Bear
Tel: 0203 9944555
To be honest, I have only been here once but the service and the food was fabulous. I'm more of a casual diner so the ambience sits well with me. They have great reviews recently and one that had a poor meal 15 years ago but had a great experience recently. It's shows that you when you read my reviews, you can see that poor ones rarely are overturned because you never give a second chance. The only one that contradicts that is The Pointer in Brill, initially having the worst meal and then talking to the manager, the new chef provided one of the best meals I ever had.
Home Sweet Home
Its in a very rural location but still has a pub feel to it until you reach the dining area which is contemporary which is a great contrast. I've been here twice about 5 years ago and found the food to be great and not overly presented.
Paul Clerehugh has run the place since 1989 and has a smallholding nearby. He sources most of his food locally and once provided Kate Winslet banger and mash on her wedding day.
You can tell how good it is if Heston Blumenthal, Jamie Oliver, Anthony Worrall-Thompson & Marco Pierre-White have been here.
There are some great walks around Stoke Row which you may like to do and work up an appetite before your meal.
Henley on Thames
Tel: 01491 681048
Sitting next to the River Thames in Benson watching the rivercraft go by is relaxing and in sunny weather, a great place to meet friends. I came here when it first started in the end unit as a small venture but now has extended to all the units available.
It includes new decking and outdoor seating and can get very busy on sunny days, The car park is limited and you could wait some time to find a space. I would recommend that you come here early for lunch because there's nothing more annoying than driving 40 minutes to get somewhere and waiting for another 20 minutes to find a parking space.
Some of the food is homemade but the food can take a long time to come when the place is very busy. You would come here more the location, then the food.
Tel: 01491 833732
I first came to this place about 27 years ago and it still has the charm now as it did all those years ago. Sitting on the edge of the River Thames, you can see sit and have pre-meal drinks on picnic tables before going in for your meal. In fact you can hire a riverboat from them and take your drinks on board driving yourself along the river. The river is rustic in this area so you feel removed from worldly existence which is sometimes needed when life becomes hectic.
Its not changed that much in those 27 years and has a reputation for BBQ food. I like to have my meal in the conservatory overlooking the river as the rest of the place has no view of the river. You can book this area beforehand but you may have book way in advance to guarantee this space.
I remember the calves liver and bacon with the locally sourced black pudding from a Wallingford butchers which was its signature dish all those years ago. Last time I was here I had the pan fried seabass, crushed potatoes, lemon butter, cockle popcorn, sea vegetables which was very good.
The Ferryman's cottage which is part of the Beetle and Wedge was also used in an episode of Midsomer Murders
Beetle and Wedge
My client who lived a few yards from here would always buy me a lemon tart from here in a box and give it to me when I picked her up. She said is was the best lemon tart she had ever tasted and I totally agreed with her. Like everything in life, when you get a great experience, you want to find out more. Gatineau is located in Summertown and has al fresco eating and I would recommend the mille feuille pistache.
They only provide home deliveries in Oxford with their online shop
You will not lose weight here but having a pit-stop with coffee and cake is a great place to experience in Oxford.
Gatineau Artisan Patisserie
209 Banbury Road
One of my clients simply rave about this restaurant because they give consistency in quality french food and wines. Mains are £16-£33 so you can eat affordably too.
7 South Parade
Tel: 01865 311166
Cost : £££
It's one of me favourite eateries in the area as it's affordable and very low key. I have taken Indian clients who reside in India whilst on tour here and they say to me that it's just like home. They provide meat dishes but South Indian food is mainly, vegetarian with no garlic. You can also have food suitable for vegans too but check with the staff beforehand.
This place is the only eatery I know that provides dosa with their food with the exception of Saravanaa Bhavan in Southall, near Heathrow airport.
Parking is always a challenge here but you can park for 20 minutes in the drop down area of the train station but remember to get the ticket which is enough time to pick up your take away. You can try to park in Thomas Street for free for 2 hours but failing that, try the station car park nearby in the multi-storey for the first hour at £3
25 Park End Street
Tel: 01865 791197
The Milk Shed has a reputation for quality ingredients where you can ask for the food to be changed to your particular requirement, vegan, vegetarian or gluten free. My friend Amanda who worked here part-time introduced me to this eatery and so I know the staff are always friendly and accommodating. The daily menus are posted on their Facebook and Instagram accounts so have a look before you go and make sure that they can accommodate your needs.
Their ice cream is to die for!
They have an indoor eating area but you can eat alfresco should the weather be fine.
The Milk Shed
I last came here with clients from St Louis in Missouri on 27 December 2021 which was at the height of the omicron virus on a Cotswolds tour which included my favourite village called Bibury. The next village to Bibury in Barnsley where the Village Pub is located. It has fresh produce taken from the vegetable garden at Barnsley House who own this pub and my clients love the real ale taster menu.
The Village Pub is located in Gloucestershire but so close to the Oxfordshire border that I just had to include it. There is ample parking behind the pub and the entrance is from this car park through the outdoor area.
5 quarter pint ales are placed on a wooden server with some great explanation from the bar tender. If you come from a country that relies on Budweiser, than this is a real treat for you. The inside of the pub has an open wood fire which is inviting on chilly days and an area outside for eating al fresco on warmer days. Outside heaters are provided and good table service to add to your experience.
In the pass I have treated my clients to Pimms, English cream teas, and sticky toffee pudding here.
Tel: 01285 740421
The Muddy Duck is closed for refurbishment but will be opening around March 2022. You will have to look at their Facebook to get an update.
I have been here a couple of times but never could book a dinner as it's always fully booked. The lunch here was good but a little underwhelming for the reputation. Its in the Michelin guide.
The Muddy Duck
The George and Dragon is a traditional English pub with a warm and inviting interior that includes a fireplace in the dining area. You can eat in the bar with its slightly eclectic interior which just adds to the appeal. There is car parking at the rear and entry into the pub from the car park.
I had Sunday roast here and the smoked haddock which have both been good
The George and Dragon
1 Thorpe Road
I'm planning to set up a vegan only restaurant list as Karen and I are predominantly vegans which will including Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire and London.
I set up my first restaurant list around 20 years ago when many of my corporate clients wanted to try new places outside their hotel and my tour clients wanted to have breakfast, lunch or dinner whilst on tour. My local clients in Bucks and Oxon gave me some very good up to date recommendations which I then subsequently tried for myself.
Please feel free to email me for recommendations and comments to email@example.com
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