There’s something about The Victoria in Oxshott that will catch your eye. Maybe it’s the way she looks, dressed in reddish tones and chestnut leather. Or the way her warm glow makes you feel instantly at home. She’s sophisticated but doesn’t take herself too seriously, loves vintage photos and has a wild sense of fun.
The point of difference here is the five star food and drink from this community pub from Matt Larcombe, former head chef of The Crown at Bray, and Simon King of Igniting Hospitality. Sommelier Michael Engelmann, previously of The Modern in New York and Rockpool in Sydney makes a serious play with his approachable wine list, showcasing small, lesser-known wine producers and up and coming stars of the future, appealing to both champagne snoots and pet nat chuggers.
Snacks are also streets ahead of your usual pub offering, including the likes of plump beer battered oysters with seaweed mayonnaise and sweet and salty mouthfuls of Devils on horseback. The food in general is deeply familiar and fortunately portions are generous and the flavours vibrant and assured.
Something as simple and universally loved as a beef tartare is elegantly mounted and playfully punctuated with sharp pops of horseradish and hen's egg. The smoked Loch Duart salmon, avocado and caper berries is refreshing and pretty as a picture.
There are hints of Heston's empire such as the much-lauded and deservedly famous triple-cooked chips. Two portions were ordered to accompany the big boy, a HG Walter salt chamber aged rib-eye with roasted onion and Bordelaise sauce. The steak, as promised, cut like butter. The Bordelaise sauce was one of the best I've tasted. High claims indeed, but claims that are wholly fulfilled which neatly demonstrates the kind of rich-yet-unobtrusive flavour-mastery Larcombe wields.
While you can gorge yourself silly on snacks, bread and mains, the desserts deserve some attention too; rhubarb and custard but jacked up 10 notches. Beautiful to look at that even prompt the craning of heads and jealous sounds of ‘ooh, what’s that?’ as they are ferried around the room. My only wish is that I could pause time and just stay at The Victoria forever.
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Chatting Food Contributor: Erica Pilavaki
Growing up with the aroma of meat grilling over open coals, views of vine wrapped mountains and surrounded by the abundant seas of Cyprus, Erica has food and drink in her heart and soul. Contact Erica about London restaurant recommendations and the latest products in food and drink.
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