5 Reasons to Drive to Oxfordshire
Spring has sprung. Escape the city, hit the road and head to the county of Oxfordshire for a first-class meal in the great outdoors. From country pubs to grand manors, there's a restaurant to suit every mood just over an hour away from London.
The Sir Charles Napier
Once upon a time this family-run restaurant in Chinnor, with a magical garden leading into the woods, was a well-guarded secret by those in the know. Several big awards later and the secret is out - although the charming space is still as intimate as always. Ingredients are all seasonal, fresh and whenever possible locally sourced so the menu changes regularly but includes anything from a beautifully presented cheddar soufflé to rack of spring Oxfordshire lamb with minted broad beans and wild garlic broth.
Sprigg's Alley, Chinnor, Oxon, OX39; 01494 483011
Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
Chef and owner Raymond Blanc's evergreen country hotel and restaurant is well worth the drive for the exceptional New French cuisine (fresh vegetables and herbs are grown in the two-acre kitchen garden), impeccable service and wine cellar with over 1,000 wines from around the world. Can't face the drive home? Check into the hotel - it'll cost you an arm and a leg but you're in for a night you'll never forget.
Church Rd., Great Milton, OX44 7PD; 01844 278881
The Chequers Inn
This Cotswolds hot spot is everything you want from a country pub - it's rustic, cosy, filled with locals and serves hearty British food with a sophisticated twist, as well as an excellent lineup of roast dishes and steaks. Creative desserts like salted caramel ice cream or chocolate fudge and cheesecake pot are particularly good.
Church Rd., Churchill, Oxfordshire, OX7 6NJ; 01608 659393
Modern English cuisine with a focus on locally sourced ingredients is what you'll find at this fun country hotel near Blenheim Palace. Expect anything from diver scallops to loin of Lighthorn lamb or wood pigeon with quince and truffles. Dinner is especially romantic when the 17th-century panelled room is dressed up with candles and music.
Market St., Woodstock, Oxfordshire, 0X20 1SX; 01993 812291
The Manor at Weston on the Green
The revamped Tudor manor house is now a smart country hotel (complete with a helipad) near the Cotswolds. The chef is a big fan of locally sourced and seasonal products, which he prepares for both the tasting and a la carte menu. They also offer an excellent traditional afternoon tea - perfect after a long day of discount shopping at nearby Bicester Village.
Northampton Rd., Oxfordshire, OX25 3QL; 01869 350621