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The Oxford Blue Pub – Old Windsor

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If you’re looking to enjoy fantastic food & drink with excellent friendly service in a relaxed atmosphere at a fabulous countryside location then look no further than the Oxford Blue Pub. This was a truly fantastic evening and one I’ll definitely be looking to repeat in the not too distant future.

So how did we hear about this place? I had seen it on Favourite Tables and then when a chef I know from a restaurant not to far away visited for Sunday Lunch and the pics looked great. So visited their website to see who the chef was plus take a look at the menu and all seemed good so with that in mind made a reservation and on a recent Saturday, we made the trip from east to west to see for ourselves.

We were lucky enough to find a B&B just a short walk away. We arrived on Saturday and the outside was impressive especially as it was all lit up. On entering we received a delightful welcome as we arrived early to sample one of the beers from the local breweries. While we were looking at the drinks we received our first nice surprise as two complimentary glasses of champagne from the chef arrived at the table.

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Also at this time out came some amazing Venison Bon Bon’s that were just little balls of heaven. We then followed this by enjoying an aperitif where I did get to try well a local beer which had to be the Oxford Blue Ale of course.

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While enjoying our drinks it gave us the chance to look around. As you enter the bar is on your immediate left. To the right is the main dining area with additional seating area straight ahead. We were seated in the main area at a table that overlooked the front and to which in daylight would give you the chance to look at the stunning views. Once seated it was time to look at the A la Carte menu which had some amazing game which is inspired by the area. Before our starters, we got to enjoy some delicious warm Sourdough Bread.

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Our first courses were a fantastic Braised Suckling Pigs Trotter with Black Pudding, Apple Carpaccio & Sauce Gribiche accompanied by three thin slices of crackling which not only tasted amazing but the apple really refreshed the palate. We also chose the amazing Shellfish Rarebit with Lobster, Scallop & Cockles which was rich and creamy but just heaven.  Before we had our mains we received our second delightful surprise as the chef sent us out a little extra course and fantastic it was to a beautiful Mushroom Tartlet with Truffle & Wild Mushroom Veloute.

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Now on to the main. courses which were also amazing and of course we chose two incredible game dishes, the Windsor Great Park Red Deer with a Braised Shoulder Croquet and a Caramelised Pear & Chicory Tart. The other dish was the Roast Crown of Woodcock with Confit Leg, King Oyster Mushroom & Spring Onion Spelt Risotto. These dishes were just sublime & enhanced as we also ordered the mixed green vegetables and the beef fat chips.  It was now time for a rest before moving on to desserts.

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This is where the amazing creations of Ami take over and we weren’t let down here either as each dessert was an absolute treat. The Rhubarb & Custard Mille Feuille did not only taste delicious but was a work of art. We also had the fabulous Banoffee Soufflé with Banana Ice Cream & Toffee Sauce as well as the Milk Chocolate, Salted Caramel & Malt Ice Cream. Both of these desserts were simply chocolate heaven.  We then finished with tea & coffee. With this came a thick slice of Salted Caramel Chocolate and a little hammer which you use to break the chocolate into pieces.

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So this brought an end to a fantastic evening well or so we thought as there was one final surprise in store. We were asked if we’d like to go into the kitchen as Head Chef and Owner Steven would like to meet us. This was an honour and gladly accepted as we also got to meet wife & pastry chef Ami. You could clearly see the passion for the area and the produce they use. We had the pleasure of telling him his food was amazing and matched by excellent friendly service from his team and to tell him we were looking forward to returning again soon. Then before leaving, we were given a glass of homemade Limoncello to truly finish the evening in style. This to me is a must visit so yes I would highly recommend making a reservation and I certainly can’t wait to return. Thank You to everyone at the Oxford Blue for a fantastic evening and wishing you All The Best for the future

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Cornerstone Hackney

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This was our fourth visit to Cornerstone so you might be wondering why we love it here so much. Well actually it’s very simple the fish dishes created by chef Tom Brown are amazing and the desserts by Kelly Cullen are delicious so when you match this along with the great friendly service the decision to keep coming back is very easy.

It was also, therefore, no surprise when they received yet another award meaning they are now the proud holders of 3 AA Rosettes. The surrounding area in Hackney Wick where the restaurant is situated is being developed all the time which surely can only benefit this place as well. It’s very easy to get to as its only a very short walk from the station and also close to the Olympic Village which in fact as it was a nice day is the route we took from Stratford. On our arrival we were given the usual friendly welcome just like our previous visits. Our table couldn’t have been better as it was right opposite the pass where Tom completes and makes sure each dish is perfect before it’s sent out. Our lunch started with a complimentary glass of bubbles courtesy of Tom. We were then given the menu which was full of fabulous new dishes to try as well as a couple of old favourites.

On our previous visits we’ve always ordered the entire menu so after deliberating if we could leave anything out only to remember how good they were before we decided to once again order everything. This decision brought a smile to the managers face as she remembered that we did this the last time.

We started with the most amazing Sourdough Toast with Netherend Farm Butter which was quickly followed by two selections of Oysters. The first is the original Pickled Oyster with Celery, Horseradish & Dill and the new Native Oyster with a Seaweed Hot Sauce.

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Once we finished the oysters we then ordered a fabulous bottle of Certosa an Italian Rose Wine from the Island of Capri which was a real delight and accompanied the remainder of the dishes nicely Next on the list was the first of stunning new dishes a fantastic Brill Tartare with Wild Garlic, Mushrooms & Egg Yolk. This was followed by Cured Gurnard with Grapes, Almonds & Sherry Vinegar. We finished this little section with a favourite the Mackerel Pate with Cider, Sea Purslane & heavenly Treacle Bread After enjoying a little break we were then treated to some fantastic St Austell Bay Mussels in a Cafe de Paris sauce just sublime especially when you come across a couple of beautiful Clams hidden at the bottom.

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Following this was another fabulous new dish of Fried Jerusalem Artichokes with Cod’s Roe & Hazelnuts before enjoying a couple of fabulous Hand Dived Scallops, Coral Butter & Lime a pure delight We then continued to another old favourite with a slight change the Potted Shrimp Crumpet now with Kohlrabi, Gherkins & Parsley but still amazing. This was followed by two more new dishes the first being a fabulous Roast Cornish Hake with Celeriac, Anchovy & Chilli. Then came the highlight of the day a truly stunning Whole Monkfish Tail with the famous Chicken Butter Sauce.

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If you come here even for just one dish then this is it.

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After enjoying the amazing dishes another rest was required. During this time manager then came over to ask if we’d like the cheese course or dessert. We looked at her and just smiled and she knew what was coming as we said you may now bring the rest. This is where the amazing Kelly Cullen takes over starting with a fabulous Cheese Course consisting of a Blue Cheese, Honey Cake, Figs & Walnuts a perfect combination. Now it was time for desserts and once again Kelly excelled herself with three absolute beauties. The first was a fantastic Sea Salt Praline Tart & Pecan simply amazing. The second was a stunning Pavlova with Rhubarb, Clotted Cream & Ginger. Then our last dessert was a fabulous Dark Chocolate Torte with Blood Orange & Creme Fraiche Ice Cream.

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We finished with a coffee and Petit Fours which brought to end another memorable lunch here at Cornerstone. Before we left it was nice to have a chat with Tom who really is such a nice person. I’d like to Thank Tom, Christian & Kelly for the amazing food plus thanks to the front of house team for their excellent service. Another plus is that the menu changes often which is great if you are local and are able to visit on a regular basis. So yes I would highly recommend a visit as you are really missing out if you haven’t been yet. I for one certainly won’t be leaving it too long before I return and try more of this restaurant’s amazing dishes 

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Haywards Restaurant – Epping

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For the last five years, I’ve been a frequent diner here at Haywards. This to me is an easy decision as for one it’s only half an hours drive away. The other reasons are is that the food is simply amazing which is matched by the fabulous service you receive from an excellent young team.

It’s not hard to see why this restaurant once again won Best Restaurant in Essex and now also has the well deserved honour of being a 2 AA Rosettes restaurant to which I’m sure in the future will increase. So as I said the food created by Chef Jahdre Hayward is fantastic and full of stunning flavours which without any doubt has been improving year by year. So what to expect in 2019 well if our first visit of this year is anything to go by then I would recommend booking a table now as you’ll be in for a treat. We arrived on Saturday for lunch and received our usual nice welcome before being shown to what I can now say is our regular table. While enjoying our pre-lunch drinks owner Amanda said that if it was ok with us Chef has created for us a Special Tasting Menu which would include all the new dishes.

A lunchtime Tasting Menu is something that they’re looking to introduce so please feel free to ask about its availability. Well, honestly how could we refuse so gladly accepted and couldn’t wait to see what he’d produced. We started first with some fabulous Granary Sourdough Bread before enjoying a Carrot & Ginger Veloute along with Paprika Crackers & Arancini Balls.

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Now it was time for our first course and wow it was outstanding a Foie Gras & Green Tea Ballotine with Salted Grapes & Pickled Apple a truly amazing way to begin. This was followed by a fantastic vegetarian dish a Roasted Cauliflower with Ricotta Dumplings, Capers, Pine Nuts & Raisins – just heaven.

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Now on to our next course and yes it was another dish full of flavour as we were treated to a Ham Hock Boudin, Jerusalem Artichoke Purée & Thyme Foam simply delicious. This heavenly dish led us on to our main course which consisted of a Pan Roasted Breast of Pheasant, Confit Leg & Caramelised Celeriac Purée with the added delight of Potato Dauphinois which is always amazing here.

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We now needed a short rest before moving on to desserts to which we were told there would be two. This was music to my ears as yes I love desserts. The first dessert was a divine Coconut Brûlée with Mango Sorbet & White Chocolate Aero. This was followed by a Pumpkin Tart with Nutmeg Ice Cream & Poached Clementines & Purée. We wondered if the Tart would be a bit savoury but it was nice & light and worked well with the nutmeg ice cream it was just delicious.

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We finished with a coffee and petit fours to bring to an end another fabulous lunch at Haywards and if this is what’s to come in 2019 then all diners are in for something special.

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I would highly recommend a visit so you can see for yourself why this restaurant gets the accolades it deserves. In Jahdre they have one of the best chefs around & under the guidance of Amanda & Anne the front of house team are so friendly and professional. So don’t delay and book a table today you will not be disappointed. I’ll probably be back in a couple of weeks for another fantastic visit 

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Restaurant Ynyshir’s Chef Patron Gareth Ward to Cook at The Twenty Six

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Chef Patron at Ynyshir Restaurant, Gareth Ward in a one-off event at The Twenty Six  

A “one night only” nine-course tasting menu event will take place on 17th September, at The Twenty Six in Tunbridge Wells.

Gareth’s menus at Ynyshir reflect seasonal availability of Welsh and British ingredients from both sea and land, including Dyfi Valley Welsh lamb, wild deer, duck and partridge, foraged sea herbs at Ynyslas beach and wild garlic in the Cumbrian mountains. Ynyshir is a Michelin star, four AA rosette restaurant with rooms, and is number 12 in The Good Food Guide 2018

Cooking at The Twenty Six, Gareth and his team will create a dining experience to showcase Ynyshir, that takes guests on a creative journey through Wales and the British Isles over a nine-course tasting menu

With only 26 places available for this exclusive culinary night, it’s certainly not one to be missed.
When: September 17th,  2017 – guests to arrive at 7.30 for drinks, to be seated for dinner at 8 pm. Served in one sitting for dinner on a long communal table to 26 guests
Tickets: £60 per person.  Reservations are open on www.thetwenty-six.co.uk or call The Twenty Six on 01892 544607 to book. A deposit will be taken at the time of booking.
Where: The Twenty Six, 15a Church Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 0RX

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