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When I was told the next review was Castle at Edgehill, I was delighted. People talk about it all the time – the food, the view, the refurbishment about two years ago. I was keen to see what all the fuss was about.
We booked for Sunday lunch figuring if there was a view to seen, better to see it during the day – and goodness me, I am glad we booked. The parking lot (handily located just across the street) was packed but there was still a spot or two just out front. Once inside, I saw the vast majority of tables across several rooms were also full up. The other thing I noticed once I was inside was the loveliness of the space itself. The castle-style architecture that gives the place its name can – if not decorated with care – end up dark and a bit stifling. Nothing dark and stifling here – light, space and a lovely atmosphere was in evidence everywhere.
The warm and friendly greeting was a great start to the visit and then we were shown to our table and the day got even better. We had scored a table for two next to the floor-to-ceiling windows and we feasted on the panoramic views along with our scrumptious meal.
Speaking of the food, we were both struck during the meal at how both the traditional fare, a typical Sunday roast or sticky toffee pudding, and more modern elements such as the presentation of the starters, were handled with equal skill. Some places do one thing or the other well. Castle at Edgehill impresses on both counts. So what did we have?
Smoked Venison served with celeriac coffee walnut & parsley: I know the point of this dish was the venison – and it was lovely, very lightly smoked as venison should be so you get both the smoke and the venison – but I was incredibly pleased with the shredded celeriac with walnuts that accompanied it. I’ve had celeriac before but never raw and made into this sort of delicately sweet and savoury tangle. It was crunchy and light and the perfect supporting note for the venison.
Smoked Mackerel pate, served with beetroot, sorrell and brown bread: Beautifully presented, the mackerel had a lovely texture and the fine ribbons of beetroot gave a welcome additional texture and added sweetness to the smoky, salty pate. I didn’t really get the promised horseradish, though a hint of it a couple of times showed what it would have been like – a little more would, for me, have been perfection. The bread was quite dense, adding another textural note to the meal, and the butter came with a sprinkle of sea salt which also added little hits throughout the course.
Carpenter’s Burger with cheese sauce, onions, tomato jam & double cooked skinny chips: I ordered the burger – or as they call it The Carpenter’s Burger. This is not because they got the recipe from one of the carpenters during the big refurb but because the meat comes from Carpenter’s Farm just down the road. Local suppliers is very much a thing with restaurants these days but when The Castle says local, they mean a mere 2 miles down the road. Now, I have strong views on burgers and if I find a burger lacking, I will not mince words. … Get it? Mince? Oh OK, I’ll stop with the comedy and stick to food.
I asked for the burger medium, ever so slightly leaning toward medium rare and that is PRECISELY what I go. I cannot tell you happy this made me. Nothing is more irritating than being told that an eatery will ONLY do burgers well done. I don’t know what cheeses are used in the cheese sauce but it was divine as were the onions. There was a tad too much of the onion and cheese mix to make eating the burger a tidy affair. But honestly, if I was that worried about tidiness, I’d have ordered something else. I don’t know that I would have called the chips skinny, but they were delicious so whatever they want to call them is fine by me and I fell in love with the tomato jam. This was not mere ketchup. This was very much tomato jam and it has inspired me to try something similar this summer at home.
Roast sirloin of beef, Yorkshire pudding, goose fat roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, broccoli gratin: When you order a traditional Sunday roast you don’t want innovation, you want tradition done right – and this was exactly right. The beef was medium to medium rare (I would have been happier with rare, but wouldn’t expect that from a pub meal), and perfectly tender, with the exterior fat perfectly roasted and tasty and, again, proper seasoning. The chef here really understands salt, and how it can add to a dish. The potatoes and veg were cooked perfectly, and the broccoli gratin something I wouldn’t have expected – but the flavour was lovely. Something to try at home. It was served with plenty of gravy, which again was done perfectly.
Sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel and vanilla ice cream, accompanied by parsnip and pecan: Before you say anything, I know I reviewed a sticky toffee pudding elsewhere but I do not care. I adore sticky toffee pudding and when the chance presents itself, I shall order it. Besides, it means I have plenty of versions to compare. This was lovely – the cake was moist, dark and dense without being stodgy (a balance that not many places can get right) and together with the lightly salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream was the perfect way to round out the meal.
Dark chocolate tart, pistachios, orange sorbet, orange cream: I drooled at the presentation. Then I ate, and I drooled even more. This was a dense chocolate tart, not too sweet, offset by the sharp, unsweetened sorbet and the sweeter orange cream, with perfect short-crust pastry and the slightly salty crunch of the pistachios. Quite simply one of the most glorious desserts I’ve ever eaten – I can’t praise it enough.
We were well looked after from the moment we walked in to the time we left. The service was friendly, attentive and quick despite how busy the restaurant was, and nothing was too much trouble. The food was delicious, abundant and beautifully presented. And the view that everyone keeps mentioning? Breathtaking! We spent the whole meal looking out through the picture window over the Civil War battlefield and across what must have been several counties.
In sum: our Sunday lunch at the Castle at Edgehill is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. To quote my husband, “Prince Rupert may have gotten to Edgehill first but I can pretty much guarantee he didn’t eat as well as I did.”
Banburyshire Info Food Critic
Review: 7th February 2016
Castle At Edgehill Website www.castleatedgehill.co.uk
Castle At Edgehill is set in a historic hilltop tower built in 1742, this stately pub with rooms is 4.9 miles from Farnborough Hall and 6.3 miles from the Heritage Motor Centre.
Address: Edge Hill (nr Ratley), Opp Edgehill Tower Turn, Banbury OX15 6DJ
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