Entertaining one’s grandparents is always tricky. So much must be borne in mind: will the place serve sherry at Granny’s preferred lukewarm temperature? Can a Zimmer frame fit through the front door? Will someone drone off into a story about the war while ordering? What will we do about Grandad pissing himself every five minutes? It was thus with trepidation that I booked a table with two of my oldest surviving relatives. Eventually I settled for the hack-ridden, OUCA-favoured, ChCh and Oriel staple Ma Belle. I had only been once before: a delightfully long, boozy lunch with the lady of the hour in Michaelmas one Tuesday afternoon, and fancied a return. I was not disappointed. It’s a wonderfully clattery French bistro, with fine house plonk but rather dodgy baguettes. Everyone began with salad: a chicken liver pâté for me; a goat’s cheese and a smoked chicken for the fogies, all served with delicate vinaigrette and the predictable paprika garnish. Delicious but for the flavourless tomatoes in the salads. It being the Sabbath and all I chose pork, while the geriatrics both chose to dribble into Coquilles St. Jacques. They assured me this was delicious but I must say it looked rather dodgy: you simply can’t serve the delicate flesh of scallops in a cloying, textureless mashed potato. My pork was really excellent: slowly fried in butter and moistened by a herby béchamel, again served with a mash fluffed with cream, chives and an onion gravy. A superb marriage of flavours, if a little cluttered. Both courses went well with a crisp Muscadet. Best of all, Grandad didn’t piss himself till after coffee, and even then nobody seemed to mind.
ARCHIVE: 2nd Week TT 2003


For Cherwell, maintaining editorial independence is vital. We are run entirely by and for students. To ensure independence, we receive no funding from the University and are reliant on obtaining other income, such as advertisements. Due to the current global situation, such sources are being limited significantly and we anticipate a tough time ahead – for us and fellow student journalists across the country.

So, if you can, please consider donating. We really appreciate any support you’re able to provide; it’ll all go towards helping with our running costs. Even if you can't support us monetarily, please consider sharing articles with friends, families, colleagues - it all helps!

Thank you!