EAT: The Lemon Tree

The Lemon Tree
268 Woodstock Rd
(01865) 311936
Recently re-opened after refurbishment, The Lemon Tree appears to have regained its former reputation as one of Oxford’s best restaurants. While its location (a considerable way up Woodstock Road) means that it gets less attention than it might, everyone who has made the journey seems to have concluded that it was well worth the effort. Set in a beautiful north- Oxford villa, its décor is flawless. The walls are a warm Tuscan yellow, and the main dining area opens out onto an immaculate leafy patio garden where it is also possible to eat. But what about the food? The menu offered an almost bewildering choice and variety. To start, the black pudding on a bed of onion mash, despite sounding original, was unremarkable and slightly disappointing. The tomato and basil tart, however, was good and the scallops in butter sauce were exceptional. The mains similarly varied in quality. The garlic tiger prawns were pathetically small, but what made the dish truly bizarre was that it was served with what appeared to be gooseberries. The seared tuna on chickpea puree was very tasty, and the smoked haddock on spring onion mash was delicious. It was the dessert that redeemed the meal. The “chocolate pot” was a pot of warm chocolate sponge filled with hot, creamy chocolate sauce and served with white chocolate icecream. Certainly one of the best puddings I have had for a long time. Whilst sometimes over-ambitious with its culinary ideas and inconsistent in quality, The Lemon Tree’s choice of food, originality of dishes and excellent wine list should be applauded. But more than anything, it is its refreshingly individual ambience which makes it so special. It is quite simply a lovely place to eat, and certainly deserves its reputation as one of Oxford’s best restaurants.ARCHIVE: 3rd week TT 2004