Food

I’m in Oxford’s stuffiest taxi shouting apologies into my mobile. The driver is plodding along smoking interminable cigarillos, insisting on the windows being up, and asking me for the third time the name of the restaurant. I am sweating in the heat, I have just bought a new jumper I don’t like, I don’t know anything about the essay on narratology I have to do, and to cap it all I have to go to Summertown just to get a bite of lunch. But it’s the slap-spanking kind of day that demands, once I finally sit down and apologise again to my blonde companion and her daughter, a Manhattan before the starters. This arrives in a brimming glass sloshing a lonesome shred of lemon peel about, and doesn’t taste of very much except dulled booze. Our waiter forgets to take our menus once we’ve ordered, brings sparkling instead of still, and doesn’t understand what ‘blue’ means as an order for steak, but at least we’re on the terrace and in the sunshine. “If you’re reviewing this place you and I should share their mixed specialty starter plate for two,” suggests Blonde (her daughter isn’t eating due to GCSE stress but enjoys a packet of millions as we do). When this comes it is at best forgettable: bit of humous, some kind of salsa dip, pitta bread that goes cardboardy too quickly, an over-spiced sauce with crumbly mince, and a shredded iceberg and onion salad in the middle. My tuna steak, which is not rare despite specifically being advertised as such in the menu, comes in a watery ratatouille which overcomes its own delicate flavour. Blonde’s steak is clearly not a sirloin as the menu promised. On inspection it is probably a fore rib or classic French entrecôte, but the kitchen failing to notice this difference, or worse, to fob us off with an inferior cut, simply won’t do. Still, nice to be in the sunshine. Oliver JP Thring
ARCHIVE: 3rd Week TT 2003