A traditional pub with Michelin star British dishes made with blossoming seasonal ingredients. Different sections of the pub offering a space for a relaxed romantic candlelit dinner as well as space for large informal celebratory gather of families or friends. Lovely and efficient service from confident and friendly staff. Make sure to enjoy the home-made smoked salmon and freshly baked bread.
What is the food like?
Creative British dishes that regularly evolve with seasonality of ingredients. Chef Mike North has retained a Michelin star at Nut Tree Inn since 2008, he has to be doing something right. In the UK summer, artistically presented dishes like grilled beef and pan-fried halibut were accompanied by blossoming ingredients like courgette flower, courgette, tenderstem broccoli, Italian caesar’s mushroom, violet artichoke and lovage herb. In addition, they also produce home-made smoked salmon and freshly bake bread on location.
Tasting Menu available at £80 per person where you will get two starters, two mains, one dessert. Wine pairing to accompany the tasting menu available for an additional £55 per person.
How is the drinks selection?
A wine-lover’s heaven. Eighty choices of reds and fifty seven choices of whites as well as a range of champagne, rosè, sweet wine and fortified wines from the old and new world. Speaking of new, there is a bottle of white wine from Woodchester Valley vineyard (woodchestervalleyvineyard.co.uk), an hour drive away in South Cotswold.
Staying true as a local pub, there is a healthy selection of draught beers as well as their own Nut Tree IPA and Cider on tab.
What is the place like?
There are three different parts to Nut Tree Inn, each offering a different experience. It is set in a beautiful mid-15th century thatched roof country pub. There is an small intimate dining area at the front section of the building. Dark original exposed timber ceiling, exposed bricks, candlelight and white table cloth create a perfect setting for a romantic dinner.
Further into the pub is a larger dining area. This space is contemporary and brighter, but more unsettled with the Covid-related dress down. The slightly rugged marble floor and rendered walls and the random books on window-sill do not seems to work together.
Lastly, there are two spacious outdoor seating area. A large conventional beer garden complete with wooden picnic tables as well as a paved garden area lined with festoon lights and decked out with glass tabletop rattan furnitures to make the most of the British summer.
Who are the patrons?
Well-heeled couples from London in Oxford or Cotswold for holiday looking for a relaxed romantic meal. It’s casual but yet intimate setting at the front section offers a perfect setting for that. The informal beer garden attracts larger families or group of friends celebrating special occasions with a gastronomical meal but without the fuss.
Given its proximity to Bicester Village (15 minute drive), it is also popular with foreign shoppers seeking a true British Michelin-star pub experience after a hard day of retail therapy.
How was the service?
Lovely and efficient. The front of house staff are confident and friendly. You get a sense that it is an operation that is comfortable in their own skin. They know what they are doing and they do it well. Orders were taken swiftly, drinks and dishes were served on queue. Special request for lime wedges with sparking water was delivered without any confusion.
Is it child friendly?
Awaiting for confirmation from the restaurant as we missed asking while we were there.
Is it dog friendly?
Yes. Furry friends are welcome at the Nut Tree Inn’s outdoor area and beer garden.
One of the best for a Michelin-star dining experience. The tasting menu is priced at £80 per person with an additional £55 for accompanying wine flight. Main dishes from the a la carte menu ranges from £42 for beef fillet to £32 for a squash agnolotti (a crescent ravioli).
The restaurant only charges a 10% discretionary service charge for table of 6 and above.
See below for what my dining companions and I indulged in for this review (prices quoted include VAT):
2011 Château Gloria Saint-Julien
Beautifully aged for 10 years, this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon deep red full bodied red wine was a delight. It was intense on the nose with bold fragrant of blackberry. On the palate, the rich flavours of cherry, chocolate and coffee was dancing all over. The price tag reflects its unclassified status, but it sits shoulder to shoulder with it more established peers in St. Julien Bordeaux. £120
Potted Merryfield duck confit & duck liver mousse
An off-balanced dish. The gamey duck confit and creamy duck liver mousse overpowered the subtle cherry jelly. Indulgent duck fat toast was crunchy as pork crackling. £16
An Italian classic pairing of mild creamy mozzarella with sweet, juicy and mildly sour tomatoes. Chef North tuned up the basil component by also adding it in the form of pistou – basil blended with garlic and olive oil, as well as added a dash of the in-vogue luxurious fennel pollen, capers, a slice of raw onion, yellow pepper and pine nuts for good measure. A decent dish, but too subtle to make the headline. £15
Beef fillet from Aubrey Allen
Tender medium rate beef fillet served with tasty smoked potato puree, Italian caesar mushroom and crunchy tender stem broccoli. Unfortunately, on this occasion, the beef was bland and would have benefitted from a stronger accompanying sauce. £42
Fillet of Gigha Halibut
This plate is a celebration of in-season ingredients. The late summer braised coco bean puree was creamy, gently nutty and flowery and great complement to the delicate flavours of the halibut. Tempura-like stuffed courgette flower was crunchy and lightly stuffed with flavoursome pancetta and a sprinkling of cheese. The halibut was a touch overdone from perfection. £38
Pre-dessert of Lemon Meringue Pie
A cute decorated egg. Lemon meringue. Biscuit bits. sharp lemon flavours, but slightly fake. Happy popping candy. The spoon was also a touch clunky to get into the opening of the egg.
Valrhona Guanaja chocolate souffle
It wasn’t the deep rich finisher we hoped for. The chocolate sauce made from the Valrhona Guanaja 70% cocoa dark chocolate was a touch too creamy while the soufflé was too bland. The praline ice cream was also lacking depth and richness. £15