Ashmolean Rooftop Restaurant, Oxford: July 2017
Who knew that the Ashmolean museum had such a great restaurant?
The Ashmolean Museum is the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology, founded in 1683. Whilst this is all very interesting I wasn’t convinced that the restaurant would hold up to much. We have all eaten at museum restaurants before; you know the type – scones and teacakes. So you can understand my surprise when the Ashmolean really delivered!
The rooftop restaurant has two main spaces, indoors and outdoors. Indoors was bright and spacious but the gem is the outdoor section. Whilst the views are not the best due to buildings in the way, it is certainly the sun trap that takes you away from the city. It was very sunny when I went and so was perfect – although book ahead if you want to sit outside as the tables with shade fill up fast! Although partially in the sun I was very pleased. The city was but a memory and the peacefulness that comes with rooftops certainly provided the rest bite needed after a busy morning shopping.
I went straight in for a main, it was lunch and although I wanted three courses I felt two would be enough in the heat. The menu showed a small selection of modern British cuisine – a promising start. Too much choice is a bad thing and I always wonder how much effect can go into creating too many dishes.
I decided on the Guinea fowl with broccoli, beetroot and smoked dressing. Flavours that we know work well together, so I was hoping for perfectly cooked game and intense depth to the smoked dressing.
The bird held its form whilst allowing my knife to slice it beautifully. That combined with the golden skin created the taste I was hoping for. Dare I say it, moist and tender – sorry I had to. Guinea fowl is one of those birds that can either overwhelm your taste buds or leave you needing to wash it down with your drink – and fast. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t the latter.
The broccoli was just right and the sweetness of the beetroot helped to cut through the richness of the Guinea fowl. The smoked dressing was just ok. I wanted to really have that smoked flavour wrap itself around my folk. It didn’t, and it fell slightly flat. This did not take from the overall quality of the dish, however.
For dessert I, without hesitation, chose the Eton Mess – and why not! When it arrived it looked just like summer and called me to try. My spoon felt no resistance. Was this a trick? Where was the meringue? I hunted and found small shards hidden amongst the cream. Although tasting as you would expect, there was far too much cream and not nearly enough meringue – this dessert is a definite sharing option. I challenge anyone to eat the entire dish without feeling that an angiogram should be your next appointment!
The service was slick and not intrusive. I would recommend this restaurant for a pre-theatre stop or for a spot of lunch with family. A thoroughly enjoyable experience in bliss surroundings.