I find there is a new bonus dimension to dating in your 40s: men have more cash and don’t shy away from taking you to restaurants. For this I am grateful as even if the date doesn’t lead to anything else, at least I have material for this review. Aren’t I just the embodiment of the glass half-full philosophy?
The Cherwell Boathouse is an institution in Oxford and though I had been there during the day, I had never visited it at night. If I had known, I would have come sooner and it will now be where I take everyone who wants to dine out during the summer months. The candlelit room with a view over the punts and the river Cherwell conjured up images of a posh picnic by moonlight while reminding me of long and happy family dinners taken outside on holiday. The Cherwell Boathouse is a happy place with a cheerful atmosphere that sets it apart from other restaurants in Oxford.
Being enchanted by the place, I crossed my fingers under the table for the food. I needn’t have worry. There is always something slightly wrong in a three course meal and I am easily disappointed but try as I might, I couldn’t find anything I didn’t like there.
I chose a gazpacho for starters. It was a little bit richer than its Spanish counterparts but then everything is in Oxford. I can honestly say this is the best gazpacho I’ve had out of Spain and I’d like to think that even now, almost two month later, I can still recall the tanginess of the garlic amidst the pepper and cucumber flavour. Fantastique!
To follow, I had a pan fried halibut fillet with ratatouille and again it hit the right note. The French have an expression to say the flavours are making you glow. We say “ça explose en bouche” or “it explodes in your mouth” though I’m suddenly unsure of the kind of image this conveys over here…Let’s say the flavours danced a perfectly orchestrated ballet where all worked together, complementing each other to perfection. Everything was also super fresh, which was the cherry on the cake.
As for the dessert I had in the restaurant, it was smooth and tough at the same time. The textures completed each other very well in a teasing sort of way, a point of bitterness overpowering the sugar, crunchiness over softness, temptation winning it all. In a word, this was the perfect chocolate tart.
Despite prices being on the high side, the meal was really good value and I can only advise anyone to taste for themselves. As I returned to the place more recently in daylight to take pictures, I realised they have an autumn menu out. Now all I need is another date. Any takers?