Looking to escape the city? We’ve found the place to book before everyone else does. Less than an hour from London, The Oxford Blue is Windsor’s latest gastro gem, set in a quiet corner of Old Windsor, giving foodies a taste of the country, just a train ride away from the capital’s buzz.
With renowned chef Steven Ellis – former sous chef of three-Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and Andrew Pern’s Michelin-starred Star Inn – at the helm, you know you’ll be in good hands. Rumours are surfacing the menu will be awarded a star before long, so book in now to beat the crowds. We paid a visit, and it more than delivered…
Tell us more… Windsor’s ticket to gourmet grub; The Oxford Blue is the epitome of fine dining, gastropub-style. Having previously worked under the banners of top chefs Jamie Oliver, Andrew Pern and Gordon Ramsay, chef and owner Steven Ellis has transformed this former 19th century gamekeeper’s cottage into a food lover’s paradise, boasting an inventive menu of traditional British classics that’s set to rival the London dining scene.
The vibe… With its flagstone flooring, tartan upholstery and local ales on tap, The Oxford Blue may masquerade as a traditional country pub, but it’s the food that’s drawing the crowds. The menu is sublime, with everything from pig’s trotters to posh pie and mash ready to satisfy hungry diners. The interior is a little swankier than you’d expect in a standard country inn – there are oxblood leather banquettes, tartan seating and statement wall panels – but it still retains a sense of laidback, rural charm.
The food… Championing locally sourced, fresh, seasonal produce, celebrated chef Steven Ellis has curated a mouthwatering menu “based on tradition and comfort, with a modern twist”. You’ll find familiar pub favourites including ploughman’s, onion soup and hake fish and chips, amongst a collection of fanciful plates including celeriac fondant, spelt risotto and game crouton with foie gras and bone marrow.
Our recommendations? Start with the braised suckling pig’s trotter – a show-stopping plate elegantly decorated with wafer-thin slices of apples, topped with a sticky roll of tender, salty stuffed trotter, quails egg and fried black pudding. Pinwheels of pork crackling are presented on a bespoken wooden wedge and freshly baked chunks of rustic cider bread are served up in paper with a generous dollop of homemade butter. The scallops are equally impressive – enveloped in a sharp sorrel velouté with cucumber pearls, lightly seared and generously meaty.
For mains, opt for the sirloin of beef with ale braised short rib, bone marrow and horseradish hollandaise – beef-fat chips are a must with this dish – or the fresh fisherman’s stew. Deep-fried venison bon bons make an excellent addition as a flavoursome amuse-bouche – don’t worry these come free – and if you’ve room, opt for the treacle tart with marscapone sorbet and the Yorkshire rhubarb bavarois, served with a shot of rhubarb-infused ginger beer.
What to drink… Start off with a Bolney Bubbly – a zesty English sparkling from the Bolney Estate in West Sussex – the perfect lunchtime tipple. If you’re ordering fish, opt for the Viognier – perfectly fruity with a hint of white peach and apricot. And for red, the spicy Côtes de Bordeaux is divine. The wine list is pretty impressive, but if you’re not a wine buff, the attentive waiting staff will be on hand to match the right grape to your menu choice.
Who goes… Serious foodies. With rumours that a Michelin star could be on the horizon, this Windsor watering hole attracts crowds who know a thing or two about gourmet grub. Expect Michelin quality fare in the fuss-free setting of a cosy country pub.
We’ll go back for… Steve’s seasonal tasting menu. Hosted upstairs in the intimate setting of the Wine Attic, Steve serves up a ‘nose to tail menu’, matched with accompanying wines, beers, teas or whiskey. Ultimate indulgence.
The Oxford Blue, 10 Crimp Hill, Old Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 2QY