Eat around the world in Bucks and Oxon
From the riverside Italian to the tiny Indian city eatery, travel via your tastebuds (and skip the airport misery) with these global restaurants on our doorstep. Bon appetit!
Don Giovanni, Goring
Yes, you really are sitting alongside the Thames and not a Venetian canal, though we’d forgive you for mistaking it, Aperol spritz in hand. This gorgeous riverside spot has unspoilt views across a Thames water meadow, many of the diners arrive by boat, and the home-made Italian food is super to boot. The pasta is excellent though fish dishes such as Branzino all’ Aqua Pazza – filleted sea bass backed in foil with red onion, cherry tomatoes, capers, garlic, white wine and herbs – are also top notch.
Don your fanciest frock and prepare for some lip-smacking and elegantly presented modern Italian food at this special occasion restaurant in Bucks. From the homemade bread (go easy as there’s so much more to come…) to the antipasti and primi and secondi plates, you’ll be spoilt for choice (though we’d recommend the grilled tiger prawns and scallops with tomato, garlic and chili, served with fresh mango and organic black rice. You get the picture?
Hidden away in Liston Court just off the main high street, this cool, relaxed venue has the feel of Italian cafe culture down, and the menu to match. The boards in particular slip down nicely with a chilled Chianti. Also open for brunch – that oh-so holiday meal, and it has a fully-stocked deli with charcuterie, cheese and meals you can take home.
Prelibato is a proper family run Italian serving hearty Italian dishes like ragu, stew and parmigiana. Leave room for dessert though – like the homemade cherry crostata. Also open for breakfast and drinks on nibbles on the pavement tables – otherwise known as aperitivo Milan style!
Love casual Italian food? Check out our guide to the best pizza restaurants in the area here
MIYA in Aylesbury
A stylish Japanese bar and grill in the middle of town, MIYA boasts not one but FOUR (count ’em) kitchens: the main kitchen, the Sushi counter, the Robata grill and Teppanyaki. The interiors are just as varied, with an opulent bar area for cocktails and a traditional dining table area where you’re seated on the floor.
Sushi-lovers should hotfoot it to tiny Taberu on the Cowley Road for a huge selection of options of sashimi, hand rolls, nigiri and more. Not a fish fan? No fear – the bento boxes, curry and udon dishes here are also excellent. The bad news? It’s takeaway only. Also check out the tiny Edamame on Oxford’s Holywell Street, which has been going 24 years selling katsu, curry, ramen and salads with sushi on certain nights. Expect to queue but it’s worth it.
Love raw? Here’s the 15 best sushi and Japanese restaurants in Oxon and Bucks.
A delicious blend of modern British and classic French cooking, Artichoke is a mainstay of Bucks fine dining and it’s no surprise to us that it has retained its Michelin star and three AA rosettes in 2022. Artichoke is ideal if you’re after a little Gallic haute cuisine – think roast English rose veal with cabbage puree, pickled cabbage, roast sweetbread, smoked almond… and the like. Treat yourself to a tasting menu and wine flight for a special occasion.
La Table d’Alix at The Haseley Plough, Great Haseley
Run by a French couple, Antoine and Camille Chretien (formerly of The Swan at Tetsworth), La Table d’Alix is a hidden gem with plenty of traditional dishes (think moules frites, Périgord duck breast, Dauphinois potatoes and more gourmet dishes such as wood roasted rib of veal or wild fresh Cornish turbot) and – naturellement – a wine list to match. It’s just a mile away to that other little French eaterie you may have heard of, below.
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Little Milton
This classic grande dame is the ultimate French fancy thanks to the punctilious approach of its chef patron, Raymond Blanc – you don’t retain two Michelin stars by resting on your laurels. Much of the produce comes from the hotel restaurant’s glorious walled gardens and the rest is the best that money can buy – Oscietra caviar, Cornish lobster and Mariage Freres teas. All that’s left is to tuck in.
Efes Wine & Tapas Bar, Little Chalfont
Expect a blend of Spanish tapas and Turkish mezze at this friendly bolthole in Little Chalfont – as well as a surprising selection of cocktails. The boards are perfect for sharing and you can’t go wrong with the padron peppers, tortilla and gamba pil pil (spicy prawns). It’s loved by locals and features in our Muddy best wine bars round-up – for good reason.
Reservations recommended at this buzzing Muddy Awards 2022 winner for Best Restaurant. Jazzy Spanish tiles, slick atmosphere, great grub – all the ingredients for a perfect tapas bar (read the Muddy review here). The signature dish is hand-cut 100% Acorn fed Iberian pork, and it’s extraordinary. You can also enjoy classic numbers like patatas bravas, black rice, and churros, as well as some more adventurous dishes like Boquerones with yuzu oil.
Cowley Road is on a roll when it comes to exotic dining with the likes of Sri Lankan The Coconut Tree, Caribbean Spiced Roots and Med tapas hotspot, Kazbar. But the one we keep returning to? Arbequina, a small, buzzy tapas bar hiding amazing food behind the veneer of an old chemist. (Its bar next door appears as an old watchmaker — v. cool). Various huge papers (including the New York Times?!) have stumbled over themselves singing Arbequina’s praises, but Muddy knew before it was popular. Tip: don’t overlook the onion tortilla.
Happy to share? Check out our round-up of the best small plates and tapas in Bucks & Oxon
Ole & Steen, Oxford
If you’re wondering what on earth everyday Scandi cuisine is, look no further than the Oxford outpost of this fabulous bakery and cast aside your diet when you walk through those doors. The smoked salmon roll with pickled cucumber, lemon and herb cream cheese is our fave, followed by a rye bread cookie (yes, really!) or the cutely named ‘Danish Social’ pastries in a variety of flavours that, conversely, you won’t want to share. There’s also salads, soups and open rye bread sandwiches if you want to go easy on the carbs.
This cool Muddy Award-winner (they’vbe only gone and clinched it again in 2022!) is one of my favourite cafe experiences (not least because you can also shop for gifts and homeware while you’re there). NORSK is open for breakfast and lunch, and the Norwegian-inspired menu changes weekly with specials like salmon and egg on rye or the irresistible cinnamon buns.
Cabbages & Condoms, Bicester
You won’t forget this restaurant in a hurry thanks to a) the name (find out who coined it on the website) and b) because of the food. When the other sibling restaurants are all in Thailand, you know you’re in for authentic – our faves include the tom kah gal soup, Thai fishcakes and the golden sacks (ahem…).
Crazy Bear, Stadhampton & Beaconsfield
Speaking of bonkers nights out, here’s another special occasion spot where you can expect the unexpected – swimming pool in the restaurant, double decker bus in the garden and zebra heads emerging out of the walls… Plus very good Thai food (you can’t beat the green Thai curry). If you’re in town, our Oxford fave, Oli’s Thai, has now closed, but you can get its same superb food to takeaway from it’s new incarnation as Elle’s Deli.
It may look unimpressive from the outside, but step inside this simple Turkish restaurant and you’ll be immediately hit with delicious smells. The menu features a host of Anatolian dishes, including mezze and traditional barbecue.
Antep Kitchen, Milton Keynes & Oxford
Now you know these guys are the real deal, as they’ve been nominated in multiple categories at the British Kebab Awards (there is such a thing). Before you start picturing greasy takeaways, the menu is beautifully varied, with chargrilled meat, fish and veggies served with couscous and delicious Turkish bread.
Radhuni, Princes Risborough
Your standard Friday night curry house, this is not. Instead, Radhuni is an award-winning Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant situated in Princes Risborough’s historic Old Library. There’s even a complimentary drinks trolley wheeled out at the end of your meal – yes please.
The Standard, Jericho
Good things come in small packages (and not always with fancy wrapping), and that’s certainly the case for this diddy Bengali and South Asian restaurant in the heart of Oxford’s Jericho. The menu isn’t extensive but is perfectly formed, and has lots of great veggie options including a superb veggie korma and lightly spiced aubergine. Also check out the nearby Gurkha Village Nepalese Restaurant and Bar in Kidlington for an alternative to Indian.
Taste Tibet, Oxford
This tiny Oxford takeaway on Magdalen Road started life as a Glasto food stall and has garnered quite the national fanbase after attracting rave reviews from The Guardian et al… (naturally we knew about them waaay before). A cookbook has ensued but fame hasn’t gone to their heads – chef owners Yashi Jampa and Julie Kleeman are still cooking their delicious dumplings, curries, noodles and bowls. Get there early to nab one of the few tables – no reservations here.
Prefer a staycation? Here’s a taste of modern British…
The Hundred of Ashendon, Aylesbury
This is the first solo venture of ex St John and Hand & Flowers chef, Matt Gill, who has held a Michelin Bib Gourmand since 2016 with dishes such as pickled mackerel, carrots, parsley and creme fraiche or witch sole, mussels, Jersey Royals and sea purslane. Warning – it’s running a reduced service until 18 Aug.
The Hand and Flowers, Marlow
Still the only pub in the UK with two Michelin stars, and still rocking it – Tom Kerridge stays on his toes with new dishes, whose names keep getting longer and longer – malt roasted pork tenderloin and cheek with cod’s roe, black Australian truffle, braised celery heart and smoked potato butter sauce anyone? The set lunch – £42 for two courses and £46.50 for three is the way to go if you don’t want to remortgage…
The Wild Rabbit, Kingham
A Cotswold pub with superb fine dining and Muddy Award 2022 winner for its fabulous bedrooms, The Wild Rabbit’s farm-to-table ethos means the seasonal menu is full of mouth-watering local fare such as Wootton Estate venison wellington and native lobster Thermidor.
The Nut Tree Inn, Murcott
A Michelin-starred pub on our doorstep? Don’t mind if we do! Food is served Tuesday to Saturday, and for an occasion you can’t go wrong with the fabulous tasting menus.
The Double Red Duke, Bampton
This gastro pub and rooms from the Country Creatures crew has created something of a buzz since its opening in lockdown. And with creative twists on British classics and seasonal ingredients like apple glazed bacon ribs, tamarind and fennel slaw or chalk stream trout, spicy tomato and lovage, it’s no surprise that you have to book well ahead.